What Do Estheticians Even Do?

Sad but true: in my former career life, I always used to dread that awkward moment at the party when someone inevitably asks "What do you do?" I didn't like talking about not using my journalism degree, or the fact that I worked at a mall. I didn't like what I did and I didn't feel like it was worth talking about.

These conversations changed the day I enrolled in esthetics school. When I finally found a career that I was proud of and passionate about, I couldn't wait to talk about it. But in spite of my personal enthusiasm when I tell people I'm an esthetician, a lot of people still give me a bit of a blank stare or a polite nod. There seems to be a lot of confusion about what estheticians are and aren't. What we do and don't do. So in case you've ever wondered what an esthetician actually does, I'm here to demystify it a little.

I think most people think of estheticians as glorified beauticians, whereas other people see us as boring medical professionals on par with say a dermatologist. (I once had a client tell me that she dreaded the esthetician like the dentist, until she started seeing me.) Yet others, see us as being pampering types, similar to massage therapists. The truth is that estheticians can be all of those things. For me personally, I think I fall somewhere neatly in the middle of all that. That's one of the things I love about my job. I get to be different things to different people.

What is an esthetician?

Esthetics is a gloriously diverse field. Some estheticians choose to specialize in one particular treatment or modality, whereas others may offer a diverse spread of treatments. Estheticians work in settings as au natural as an organic beachfront spa or as high tech as a medical office. Some work as part of a team of practitioners, while many others are solo business owners.

We are licensed professionals. The hourly requirement varies state to state. In Colorado the requirement is 600 hours. I attended the School of Botanical and Medical Aesthetics in Downtown Denver, which I chose for its balanced curriculum. I learned as much about holistic practices - massage, aromatherapy, etc. - as I did about the medical and scientific components of skin care. You can take a more detailed peek at the school's curriculum here, if you're curious.

In order to graduate, I completed 350 hours of class work and study. This was followed by another 250 clinical hours logged in the school's clinic as well as a hands-on internship. I then had to submit all of my work to the licensure department and pass a practical exam, largely based around sanitation practices. (Super important when you are touching people's faces and bodies all day!) Once a student has passed their practical, they may then sign up for the written exam. The written exam is a quiz covering everything from the anatomy of skin cells to makeup application techniques.

What do estheticians do? Upon passing your state boards, you are then officially licensed and legal to practice in your state. Again, it varies state to state but most estheticians at baseline are within their scope of practice to perform the following - facial treatments, light body treatments (such as hand massage, neck and scalp rub, lymph massage), body and face waxing, brow and lash tinting, skin analysis and makeup application.

Most estheticians then acquire additional training in advanced modalities in order to better serve their clientele. I was lucky that my school included the additional certification for chemical peels, microdermabrasion or dermaplaning. Other practices that require additional training would be specialties like eyelash extensions, laser treatments, microblading, micro current, sugaring, spray tanning, etc. All fall under what estheticians are legally allowed to perform.

Strangely, this is another place where state law varies. In some states dermaplaning is illegal (those poor people just living with their fuzzy faces!) In Colorado we aren't allowed to double exfoliate a client, whereas other states don't have this rule. Other treatments like a deep peel or injectables (Botox, Juviderm) usually require medical supervision or an RN license.

Hopefully this gives you a better idea of the knowledge base. Now. What does that mean for you? Why do you need an esthetician in your life? What do clients come to me for?

What does i {heart} skin do?

The basic answer is facial treatments. My service menu is elsewhere on this site, but that's the simplest answer.

The more complicated answer? Many estheticians think of themselves as being skin therapists. I definitely do! To me, my job is about making people both look and feel better, by treating and healing the skin. And I do this in ways both practical and abstract. When my clients are happy with their results, I'm happy. It's really about your individual goals and how I can best help you reach those goals.

Sometimes it's about a client just relaxing and getting pampered (falling asleep on my treatment table is not uncommon and always encouraged). Sometimes it's about choosing the right combination of enzymes in a facial to soothe a client's acne flare up. Sometimes it's about playing detective and helping someone get to the bottom of a persistent skin issue. Sometimes it's about helping someone change things they don't like about their skin such as dryness, wrinkles or brown spots. Sometimes it's about helping someone fine tune their daily lifestyle choices and home care regime in order to get the most out of their skin care investments. Some days it's about asking the questions. Some days it's about answering them. On a good day, it's all of the above and more.

When I created i {heart} skin, I thought a lot about the obstacles that keep us from having great skin every single day and I wanted to provide solutions for those obstacles. Be it too many options, lack of information, time, budget or fear of high pressure sales pitches. I don't just want my clients to feel superficially good for an hour on my table. My passion as an esthetician and my mission at i {heart} skin is to help you feel good about your skin all day, every day.

About the blog:

This is a blog about everyday skin health. As an esthetician I strive to provide comprehensive skin care advice and knowledge to anyone who wants to know more.

Read on and please don't hesitate to reach out! I love educating people about their skin and am always happy to respond to questions.

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