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Esthetics vs Cosmetology: What’s the Difference?

April 11th, 2020


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There are so many different paths to take in the beauty industry, and sometimes figuring out which is best for you can feel a little overwhelming. If you’re running into all the terminology and details of cosmetology, esthetics, and other beauty school courses and find yourself confused or lost, this is the article for you. Read on to break down the difference between cosmetology and esthetics programs, important things to know about obtaining a cosmetology license vs. an esthetician’s license, and how Tricoci University of Beauty Culture can help you turn your passion for either (or both!) into a meaningful career.

The Difference Between Cosmetology and Esthetics

Many students will be surprised to find that while cosmetology schools often offer both cosmetology programs and esthetics programs, the two only share a few curriculum points. At Tricoci, we believe in a thorough and well-rounded education that equips our students with business and industry knowledge that could be critical to their success. This means that our cosmetology students can learn some basics of skincare and anatomy that often go hand in hand with esthetics courses and our esthetics students can learn chemistry that go hand in hand with cosmetology courses. However, that’s about where the similarities end.

Cosmetology students spend their time focused on the chemistry of coloring, treating, cutting, and styling hair across a diverse range of hair types and textures. For a full in-depth understanding of what students in our cosmetology program learn, check out this blog that offers more details around the program.

Esthetics students, on the other hand, can learn about anatomy, the science of skin, and the chemistry and biology behind skincare, skin treatments, makeup artistry, and more. Learn more about what aspiring estheticians learn at Tricoci University of Beauty Culture here.

Cosmetology students and esthetic students can both pursue salon jobs after graduating and sitting for their licensure exam, but it is more common to see cosmetologists in salons and estheticians in spas.

Cosmetology License vs. Esthetician License

In a similar vein, cosmetologists and estheticians may perform their jobs in similar environments, but the services they offer and skills they bring to the table will differ.

Before you apply to a cosmetology school, consider the type of work you hope to do when you graduate. Ask yourself the following questions to determine whether cosmetology or esthetics is the right path for you:

  • What kind of work do I want to do after graduating?
  • Is skincare a passion?
  • Do I envision myself as a colorist or stylist?
  • Do I want to start my own salon or spa someday?
  • What work environment do I see myself being most successful in?

Once you’ve answered these questions, you will have a better idea of which course of study most closely aligns with your goals and passions. This is important to determine before deciding which course to take because the course you choose will determine which licensure exam you sit for.

A cosmetology license can allow you to perform services that fall under the umbrella of cosmetology based on your education and skills. An esthetician license can do the same for services and treatments covered in your esthetics program. It’s important to note that each state has its own licensing requirements and many cosmetology and esthetician license boards require continuing education hours to retain or renew your license. If you wish to practice in multiple states, you will be required to obtain a license in each state.

Cosmetology and Esthetician School at Tricoci University of Beauty Culture

For some students, answering the questions in the previous section leaves them torn between cosmetology and esthetics. Thankfully, there is no need to choose just one. While we always recommend that our students complete one program at a time to get the most out of their studies, the two fields of study complement each other very well. It’s not unusual for students with an interest in both to eventually pursue licensure in both cosmetology and esthetics.

At Tricoci University, we pride ourselves on providing the most comprehensive education we can, not only in your chosen area of focus, but also in how to navigate the beauty industry and become a successful businessperson within the industry as well. Whether your passions lie in cosmetology, esthetics, or you want to tackle the challenge of studying both, we’re here to help turn your passion into a career. Learn more today by filling out the form below.

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