Estheticians and Dermatologists: How to know when to incorporate each to ensure skin “success”

When deciding whether or not you should see an esthetician or dermatologist for your skin problem or problems, take note that the division lines are becoming less distant. Most likely an appointment with an esthetician can lead to a recommendation to see a dermatologist and vice-versa when warranted.

Our skin can go through many changes and may not look very content at times. It can be frustrating figuring out the exact balance to give skin that “amazing glow,” and if necessary when to turn it over to an esthetician or dermatologist or both. Many of you have seen an esthetician for a facial or eyebrow wax. If you have had a skin check you may have seen a dermatologist. It is essential to know what each one does and whom you should see if a problem arises. Each may work together if necessary, to provide you with “optimal skin solutions” as how to maintain healthy, radiant, untroubled skin.

To make things crystal clear, let’s take a closer look at the qualifications of each one to make your decision uncomplicated. Which one you should visit can be cut and dry at times, in other instances; you may have both working in unison to provide for the best outcome possible. A well-trained esthetician will know when to encourage a client to enlist the expertise of a dermatologist. In turn, a dedicated well-rounded dermatologist will realize that great skin results need maintenance and a good regiment to ensure a lasting outcome.

A board-certified dermatologist needs the following qualifications:

  • A four-year undergraduate degree
  • A four-year medical school degree
  • One-year internship in a medical subject of their choice
  • Three-year dermatology residency program
  • Passing of a final exam through the American Board of Dermatology (ABD)

to become board certified

In addition to the above-mentioned qualifications, approximately 25% of dermatologists pursue additional training after their residency. This can take the form of fellowship programs in subspecialties such as cosmetic dermatology, pediatric dermatology, or dermatopathology.

Prior to 1991 certificates granted lasted a lifetime, after this date dermatologists have to participate in the ABD’s maintenance of certification program. This generally consists of continuing medical education, a series of self-assessment activities, and exercises around professional self-improvement. The maintenance of the certification program culminates in a major recertifying exam every 10 years. Interestingly enough, some dermatologists do not pursue board certification. One’s that do, it is a way for them to expound on their expertise and shows a commitment to practicing dermatology.

The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) serves to represent all practicing dermatologists who are “board-certified,” while those who are eligible to take the board exam can join as associates only. Their goal is to educate and integrate the profession. They function independently of the ABD, American Board of Dermatology.

Esthetician training and licensing qualifications differ from state to state and are as follows:

  • Completion of 300-1,000 hours of education at an esthetic school or school of cosmetology
  • Passing of a state written exam; practical exam usually completed at the approved licensing school
  • Regular renewal of license required
  • Continuing education needed in many states


Esthetician curriculum centers around skin-care basics, skin anatomy and physiology, safety and sanitation guidelines, infection control, and procedures such as facials and waxing. Some schools have a higher level of education and in few states offer “master esthetician certifications” which provides for more intensive procedures such as deeper chemical peels or ultrasound and laser procedures as well as advanced comprehensive training in dermatologic terminology and disorders, microcurrent facials, etc.


At our unique and forward-thinking school in Des Plaines, IL. “New Age Spa Institute,” we offer an intense advanced form of education. We are currently the only school in Illinois that is Internationally CIDESCO accredited which allows the esthetician to pursue education where they can work anywhere, even abroad. It is similar to a master’s program in an accredited college and highly acclaimed and revered.  Many of our instructors are CIDESCO Diploma Holders, which elevates our undergraduate education to a higher level as well.

When you should seek the expertise of a “Dermatologist”:

  • You notice a mole that is evolving; cancerous moles can be deadly
  • Severe acne lesions that are extremely inflamed, cystic acne that is scabbing or crusting
  • Anything of nature with persistent redness and scarring
  • Rashes, excessive dryness and sensitivity, brown spots
  • Anything suspicious that is not healing
  • Advanced modalities to achieve ageless skin that requires the skills and education licensing of a medical degree

For routine preservation, pampering, and age-related skin solutions the esthetician can help with the following

  • Soothing and calming skin in a relaxing environment
  • Extractions and maintenance of healthy skin
  • Mild to moderate acne conditions
  • Keeping skin hydrated and balanced for optimal functioning
  • Advanced modalities performed by a highly trained esthetician to restore proper skin function, help with age-related issues, etc.
  • Maintaining the integrity of the skin preventing future complications
  • Preserving healthy skin and encouraging skin support through routine treatments and application of products
  • Bridging the gap between aesthetics and dermatology if the esthetician sees something that needs further evaluation
  • Seeing if an acne or other situation needs prescription strength intervention through an appointment with a dermatologist


The esthetician is essential in guiding the client to the proper solution to their skincare concerns as most people may begin with the esthetician. If a problem cannot be resolved, then the client can step up to the next level of professional proficiency. In turn, the dermatologist can rely on estheticians within their practice or outside practice if one is not on hand to sustain healthy skin and correct skin imbalances averting further problems.


In conclusion, we have seen estheticians and dermatologists moving to a more central position in treating the skin as a whole unit to achieve flawless results. We are seeing a unification of the professions, as they have become partners in the treatment and facilitation of a maintenance program to achieve the best possible solution for a client’s skin. Whatever the outcome, the goal is to make the skin as happy as it can be!



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