Dermatologist Vs. Esthetician: The Difference Explained

Written by Ramona Sinha

Dermatologists and estheticians both love your skin and strive to keep it happy and healthy. Both are skin care specialists but with different scopes of practice. And while they both work towards addressing your skin-related issues, there are times when it really helps to reach out to either of them for specific concerns.

This article highlights the differences between estheticians and dermatologists to help you understand when you should reach out to one of them.

Dermatologists And Estheticians: The Key Differences

Who Is A Dermatologist?

Dermatologists are doctors who specialize in treating skin, hair, and nail issues. They have a medical school degree and undergo an internship and residency program before taking the final examination conducted by the American Board of Dermatology to become board-certified dermatologists. They may even pursue additional training in cosmetic dermatology, dermatopathology, and other subspecialties.

Dermatologists have in-depth knowledge of the skin and related issues like acne, skin lesions, rashes, skin cancer, hair loss, eczema, rosacea, dermatitis, fungal infections, and more. They prescribe medicines and perform treatments like laser therapy and cryotherapy, and non-invasive procedures, such as botox, micro-needling, chemical peels, and fillers. You should reach out to a dermatologist for medical emergencies.

When Should You See A Dermatologist?

Consult a dermatologist whenever a skin issue requires medical diagnosis and treatment. For instance, seek advice from the dermatologist if you have acne (moderate or severe), hyperpigmentation, or questions regarding sudden rashes, moles, bruises, and wounds. They can determine the causes and underlying reasons to provide proper diagnosis and suggest treatments.

You can consult a dermatologist to address complex skin care issues and conditions that may require long-term and extensive treatments and medications.

A dermatologist can evaluate the subtle changes in your skin and prevent any disease before it appears. Moreover, you will also get a complete skin assessment from the dermatologist, and they can suggest ways to care for your specific skin type and concerns.

Now, let’s understand who estheticians are and what they do.

Who Is An Esthetician?

Estheticians are of two types – medical estheticians and spa estheticians. Medical estheticians work in medical spas or at doctor’s offices and focus on medical skin care techniques. On the other hand, spa estheticians focus on relaxation techniques that may involve massage, aromatherapy, natural healing, herbal remedies, reflexology, and similar techniques.

Remember that the requirements of estheticians may differ as per the location. Generally, medical estheticians train in cosmetology schools and appear for an exam to get their license. Estheticians are trained for general skin care, including skin anatomy and physiology, infection control, safety guidelines, and skin care procedures.

They may also receive training for performing intensive medical-grade procedures like laser therapy, dermaplaning, and chemical peeling. In such cases, estheticians have to work under the supervision of dermatologists. They cannot prescribe medicines and treatments for serious skin issues and conditions.

Unlike dermatologists, estheticians focus on the skin surface and suggest long-term treatment plans and ways to keep your skin healthy. So, when should you visit an esthetician? Let’s find out.

When Should You See An Esthetician?

Reach out to a licensed esthetician if:

  • You want to understand your skin and its needs and are looking for advice on the best skin care products to set a skin care regimen.
  • You want to undergo facial sessions or body hair removal.
  • You want to undergo anti-aging skin and cosmetic procedures.
  • You are seeking facial extraction and chemical peeling procedures.
  • You want relaxation treatments like gua sha, facial yoga and reflexology, and similar esthetic therapies for skin and overall well-being.
  • You want to undergo routine maintenance procedures and treatments.

In other words, visit an esthetician for all the fun parts of a skin care routine and surface-level cosmetic procedures for maintaining healthy skin.

However, if you have a mole, pigmentation, rashes, and severe acne that has not been diagnosed, you should head straight to the dermatologist. It is crucial to understand the underlying issue, and if it is something serious before you seek treatments, cosmetic procedures, and quick fixes to get rid of them. For instance, what you consider as a harmless freckle or mole could be melanoma!

To Sum Up

Medical estheticians can help improve your skin’s appearance. However, they cannot offer in-depth treatment. On the other hand, dermatologists can help identify, treat, and heal skin and hair issues that require medical attention. Estheticians and dermatologists often work together and can refer you to each other. While both are licensed to care for your skin, they have different degrees and are not interchangeable.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can estheticians help with acne?

They can perform professional treatments to minimize inflammation. However, estheticians cannot prescribe medications or treat severe forms of acne.

Can estheticians work in a dermatology office?

Yes, medical estheticians work at a dermatologist’s office and assist them in delivering various skin care procedures.

Is it worth it to see an esthetician?

Yes, you will require the services of an esthetician because you may not be able to perform every cosmetic procedure on your own at home. Moreover, estheticians can help you analyze your skin and suggest products and procedures to keep it healthy.


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Ramona is a journalist-turned-content writer. She holds a Master’s degree in English Literature and has been writing for the digital world for over five years. She specializes in writing for Skin Care. She has done a certificate course titled ‘Dermatology: Trip To The Skin’, offered by Novosibirsk State University. She believes that beauty begins with a good skin care regimen and is on a mission to eliminate all toxins from her routine. She helps and guides readers in selecting products and ingredients specific to their skin type/issue. When Ramona is not working, her books and passion for music, good food, and traveling keep her busy.