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What's the Difference Between a Dermatologist and an Esthetician?

Updated: Oct 3, 2021

If you’re asking yourself if you should visit a dermatologist or an esthetician, you probably have concerns about acne and or aging skin. It’s common knowledge that Dermatologists have a medical degree and are in fact doctors. Estheticians, however, are licensed by their states after completing a range of 250-1600 hours and passing State Board exams.

Although both practices treat the skin, their skills and philosophy are considerably different. Let’s discuss the differences between the two respective practices and answer the question, “Should I visit a dermatologist or an esthetician?”


According to the American Board of Dermatology (ABD) “A dermatologist is a physician who is trained to evaluate and treat children and adults with benign and malignant disorders of the skin, hair, nails and adjacent mucous membranes.”

Dermatologists diagnose skin cancers, disorders, and diseases through a skin exam process. They manage contact dermatitis and inflammatory skin disorders such as acne, eczema, psoriasis, rashes, tinea versicolor, and rosacea. They interpret skin biopsies, identify moles, skin tags, warts, sebaceous hyperplasia, etc. Surgical techniques to remove moles, cysts, skin tags, and other unwanted lesions are also performed by dermatologists.

There is a range of dermatology specialties to include medical, surgical, pediatric, and cosmetic. Cosmetic Dermatologists help improve your appearance through surgery, medical-grade chemical peels, neurotoxins, dermal fillers, laser resurfacing, hair removal treatments, and spider vein removal.

Dermatologists can prescribe topical and oral medications that can treat acne, hyperpigmentation and aging skin.

Savvy dermatologists hire estheticians to better treat the skin of their patients and or prep the skin for surgical intervention.


An esthetician is a licensed skin care professional skilled in consultations, skin analysis, prescribing skincare products, developing a series of treatments to correct unwanted skin conditions such as acne, hyperpigmentation, fine lines, and wrinkles, and managing conditions like dehydration, redness, and sensitive skin.

Before treating said conditions, estheticians conduct a comprehensive consultation to determine the clients’ skin care goals and help identify the causes of skin concerns. Skincare routines, lifestyle, hygiene, and diet are also discussed because they play a key factor in the health of our skin. A hands-on skin analysis is also performed to identify and categorize common skin lesions and conditions.

Estheticians help improve the appearance of skin through chemical exfoliation, chemical peels, microdermabrasion, microcurrent, LED, dermaplaning, laser resurfacing, laser hair removal, and more. Other services to enhance facial features include eyelash and eyebrow tinting, eyelash extensions, eyelash lifts, facial and body waxing, and facial massage.

Estheticians prescribe skincare products and outline treatment plans to help their clients meet their skin care goals. They cannot diagnose or prescribe topical or oral medications.

You can find estheticians working with dermatologists, plastic surgeons, oncologists, and other physicians because they bring value to each practice.


Dermatologists diagnose skin conditions and treat them with prescription topical and oral medications. They can surgically remove unwanted lesions such as moles and even skin cancers. Cosmetic dermatologists treat aging skin and enhance features with the use of surgery, lasers, neurotoxins, and dermal fillers.

If you have a rash, infection, eczema, psoriasis, or rosacea, a dermatologist can help you. If you believe you may have skin cancer or are susceptible to skin cancer, a dermatologist can help you. If you have unwanted moles, warts, or skin tags, a dermatologist can help you. If you have spider veins or varicose veins, a dermatologist can help you. If you have hair loss or issues with your nails, a dermatologist can help you. If your esthetician has recommended that you visit a dermatologist, then visit one.

Estheticians build relationships with their clients and teach them how to treat and prevent unwanted skin conditions in any stage of life. With thorough consultations, skin analysis, and product knowledge, estheticians can solve commons skin issues and prioritize concerns. They help you achieve, manage, and guide you for the long haul.

If you’re suffering from acne, hyperpigmentation, or aging skin, an esthetician can help you. If the medications from your dermatologist did not work or were too aggressive, an esthetician can help you. If you’re confused about what skincare products you should be using, an esthetician can help you. If you’ve decided to take better care of your skin and want to prevent premature aging, an esthetician can help you. If you’re preparing for a big event like a wedding, photoshoot, reunion, or date night, an esthetician can help you. If you want to simply relax, renew, rejuvenate, an esthetician can help you.


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