Dermatologist vs. Esthetician: What's the Difference?
We all should want to take proper care of our skin, but sometimes we need a little guidance. If interested in trying a professional skin treatment, visiting a skin expert is likely on your to-do list. If so, you may be trying to decipher between visiting a dermatologist or esthetician, which brings us to the big question: what’s the difference between a dermatologist and esthetician?
As it turns out, there are quite a few. To get to the bottom of the dermatologist vs. esthetician debate—including who to visit when—we tapped both types of skin experts respectively. Below, Dr. Arash Akhavan (board-certified dermatologist, founder of Dermatology & Laser Group, and Skincare.com consultant) and Mimi Luzon (celebrity esthetician and creator of her own skincare line) explain the key differences between a dermatologist and an esthetician.
WHAT IS A DERMATOLOGIST?
In the broadest of terms, a dermatologist is basically a doctor who focuses on the health of your skin. But according to Dr. Akhavan, there is much more to being a dermatologist than just looking at your skin with a microscope. “A board-certified dermatologist is a fully licensed physician who has completed countless hours of schooling and real-world training in all medical fields with an emphasis on dermatology training,” he explains. Dermatologists have devoted an incredible amount of time to studying the ins and outs of skin and how it works, making them experts at giving your body’s largest organ the proper regimens and treatments needed to help address your concerns, whether it be pesky acne, scars, hyperpigmentation, eczema, and more.
WHAT IS AN ESTHETICIAN?
An esthetician is also a skin care professional, but they are not licensed doctors. However, not having a medical degree doesn’t mean they aren’t knowledgeable about how to properly take care of your skin. “Today’s estheticians know how to combine the right ingredients with the correct advanced technology,” says Luzon. “This combination brings an outstanding result as far as visibly improving skin texture, wrinkles, depth, skin tone and, most importantly, helping clients achieve glowing, vibrant-looking skin.”
According to Luzon, estheticians focus on improving the overall look and texture of skin, such as restoring skin radiance for skin that looks dull and lackluster. “An esthetician is taking care of specific skin problems, but also the look and feel of the skin,” Luzon says. According to Luzon, many women she meets are primarily concerned with improving the look of tired, dull-looking skin. “The esthetician’s fundamental goal is to create glowing, radiant, and healthy-looking skin, something that can be achieved regardless of chronological age,” she says.
WHO SHOULD YOU VISIT?
This one is tough, since there is some overlap between what a dermatologist can help you with and what an esthetician can help you with. Ultimately, the choice is yours. That said, the choice doesn’t necessarily have to be one or the other. If you are looking to achieve the best results for your skin, you should plan to visit both a dermatologist and an esthetician, according to Luzon.
If you don’t have time in your schedule to visit both, consider your key skin concerns. Do they have to do with the overall look and vibrancy of your skin? Consider visiting an esthetician. “The estheticians most valuable asset is their trained hands, there is no substitute for it,” Luzon says. If your skin concerns are deeper than the surface, Dr. Akhavan suggests making an appointment with your dermatologist. “A dermatologist is the most qualified individual to address all skin-related matters, whether they are disease related or aesthetic concerns,” he says.
HOW OFTEN SHOULD YOU VISIT?
This is another personal question, as it can depend on the severity of your skin concerns. If your dermatologist is not prescribing you medication or putting you on a specific skin care regimen, make sure to visit at least once per year for a full body skin check. During this visit, your dermatologist can scan all areas of your skin for any suspicious-looking moles or lesions. For all other concerns—whether it be cystic acne or dark spots—visit your dermatologist as directed with your treatment plan.
As for visiting an esthetician, Luzon noted that it’s all based on the type of treatments you’re seeking from them. “I believe in a treatment routine,” she says. “It is essential to build a treatment plan that contains a solution to a client’s skin concerns. A treatment routine is usually six treatments with 21-30 days between treatments. After six months, the plan should be altered to fit the season and the client’s current skin condition. There are also expedited plans clients use before an important event where the client comes in once a week. I always send my clients home with products tailored to their individual skin needs so they may continue the routine at home. The treatment should be performed 50 percent with the esthetician and 50 percent at home.”
Dr. Akhavan notes that many estheticians work under the supervision of dermatologists, so in some instances, you can easily make an appointment with both at the same office.