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  • Writer's pictureHollywood Institute

A Comparison between Cosmetologists and Estheticians

For the uninitiated, many of the terms and labels used in the field of beauty care can be somewhat confusing. Further blurring the issue is that many specific skill sets are taught by cosmetology schools in Hollywood, FL, even though not everyone who graduates from a program at a cosmetology beauty school is a cosmetologist. While cosmetology school is a term that can be inclusive of many beauty disciplines, it’s sometimes hard to make sense out of the many labels that are used to classify those who work in beauty care professions.

One such point of confusion involves the positions of cosmetologists and estheticians. Some people may use the two terms interchangeably, but each role involves its own set of skills and responsibilities. Keep reading to learn more about the similarities and differences that exist between these two critical professions that fall beneath the beauty care umbrella.

The Definitions of Cosmetologists and Estheticians

Before we can fairly compare the two beauty care roles, we must first be able to define them. Cosmetology is perceived as the broader of the two terms. This discipline involves the application of heat, water, solutions, dyes, and reactive chemicals to treat, curl, or straighten hair. However, cosmetologists must also be trained in nail care, skin care, hair styling, makeup, and many other specific skills. Estheticians, however, are primarily focused on the skin. That focus can include skin care as well as makeup.


To become a licensed cosmetologist, a student must attend cosmetology school and demonstrate proficiency in all the above-mentioned skills related to the beauty industry. That can include many tasks that would be handled by an esthetician, but it goes well beyond that more focused role. In fact, most cosmetologists can serve as estheticians and have esthetician certifications, but the same isn’t true of estheticians. Most estheticians are licensed only in esthetics and aren’t certified to perform other tasks delegated to cosmetologists. Because a cosmetology license involves mastery of far more disciplines, the educational commitment is often greater. It’s not unusual for a cosmetologist to attend between 1,000 and 2,400 hours of instruction to receive a cosmetologist license, while the average esthetician needs only 600 hours to achieve licensure.

Areas of Focus Just because estheticians are certified to provide as wide a range of services doesn’t mean they’re less capable of providing excellent skin care and treatments. A cosmetologist must be a jack-of-all-trades in a sense, with a broad scope of skills. An esthetician, however, may have a narrower focus but often has a deeper level of expertise in skin care and related procedures than the average cosmetologist. Consider the differentiation between the two in medical terms. A cosmetologist is like a general practitioner who can treat many different conditions adequately, while an esthetician is more like a specialist who can perform in-depth, focused treatments on one area, such as a cardiologist or urologist. If you’ve never really understood the true difference between cosmetologists and estheticians, you’re not alone. Distinguishing between the two can be difficult if you don’t understand their various responsibilities, licensing requirements, and areas of focus. If you’re interested in a career as a cosmetologist or an esthetician, Hollywood Institute of Beauty Careers has a program for you. Call (954) 922-5505 to learn how to enroll.

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