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What is the Difference Between a Cosmetologist and an Esthetician?

Cosmetologists and estheticians are similar in some ways but usually end up in different beauty careers. Knowing the differences between what they each learn in beauty school can help you decide which direction you want to go. Read more to learn the differences between these beautiful career types and which one might be right for you.

How Are They Similar?

Estheticians and cosmetologists share a working knowledge of how to perform some beauty services that are in demand at beauty salons and spas. In beauty school, they are both taught the theory and practice of a few beauty basics such as hygiene and sterilization practices, as well as anatomy. They also learn about hair, skin, and nail growth, how to keep these healthy, and how to beautify them with all sorts of services. Here is a list of what both cosmetologists and estheticians learn about in beauty school:

  • Anatomy
  • Hygiene and safety requirements
  • Skincare basics
  • Hair removal, including waxing
  • Makeup application

How Are They Different?

Esthetics and cosmetology licenses each allow you to perform certain skills in your beauty career. Defining what they are and where they work can help differentiate these two disciplines. Estheticians are typically found in spas while cosmetologists are commonly found working in beauty salons. While they share common ground, estheticians focus on skin care services while cosmetologists provide a wide variety of beauty services that are more focused around hair.

Because they share a foundation of the basics of beauty, you might find a cosmetologist in a spa providing a services that estheticians provide, such as brow tinting or makeup application. In order for this to happen, however, they must have specific training for these services and it must be included as part of their license. On the other hand, it is a rare to find an esthetician who regularly performs service that a cosmetologists does because of their focus on the services that are part of the regular spa experience, such as facials, waxing, and makeup application.

What is a Cosmetologist?

According to the Nevada Board of Cosmetology, a cosmetologist is a “licensed professional that provides hair, skin, and nail care treatment and services.” Cosmetologists have a 1600 hour study requirement and must pass the state exam in order to earn their cosmetology license. For more in-depth information about what a cosmetologist learns and where they can work, check out our blog “Defining Cosmetology“.

hairdresser styles a blonde woman's hair

What is an Esthetician?

An esthetician is defined as a licensed professional that provides skincare treatment and services, who must have 600 hours of study in the state of Nevada. Our students studying skin care in our esthiology program learn the practices of esthetics with an emphasis on using Aveda products with natural ingredients in a curriculum set by the Aveda Institute.

In addition to the basics list above, our esthiology students learn about analyzing and assessing skin conditions, facial and body treatments, waxing and tinting, and much more. Get the details about what you can learn in our esthiology program here.

female spa client has mud face mask applied to her face

Do People Study Both?

Can a beauty professional study and be licensed in both of these areas? Of course! The more you learn the more options you can have in your career. Studying and becoming licensed in both cosmetology and esthetics might come in handy if you want to pursue an instructor position, if you’d like to be a beauty school director, or even own a beauty school one day. The wonderful thing about the world of beauty is that you never stop learning and the opportunities can be limitless!

Need Help Choosing a Program?

Aveda Institute Las Vegas offers both cosmetology and esthiology courses that meet or exceed state requirements. We are dedicated to our students and their education so if you need help deciding between either of these programs, please contact us at (702) 459-2900. We look forward to helping you find the right fit for your career goals.


Aveda is a global industry leader that has a complete education system with dedicated programs for the latest techniques and trends in hairstyling and salon business development to make sure that you are always on top of your game in this industry.