What treatments can and can’t a cosmetologist perform?

If you’re a cosmetologist, or are looking into becoming one, you’ve probably wondered about what treatments you can and can’t perform on your clients. And if you’ve looked it up, you’ve probably realized that there is a ton of confusion and lots of different answers out there.

Basically, the treatments you can perform largely depends on the regulations of the state you’re practicing in. Certain procedures are commonly limited to medical professionals, such as deep chemical peels and dermaplaning; while others, like waxing, are open to everyone.

Can a cosmetologist do chemical peels?

Chemical peels are acidic solutions that are applied to the face to dissolve the outermost layer of the skin. Over the next few days, skin will continue to peel, revealing the fresh, vibrant skin underneath!

That might sound a bit scary for some, but it’s actually a common procedure! In fact, way back in 1999, it was the most popular cosmetic procedure done. And it’s only increased in popularity since!

People get chemical peels for a variety of reasons. For one, they help unclog pores, reduce the appearance of wrinkles, and even out pigmentation. Not only that, but they also can heal deep acne scarring and improve rosacea, among other things!

With a growing number of people interested in this procedure and the long list of benefits, it’s no wonder why cosmetologists would be wondering if this technique is reserved for estheticians or the specially-licensed.

Are Chemical Peels Reserved Just for Estheticians?

 

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The answer is two-fold. For one, licensed cosmetologists can, in general, do whatever a licensed esthetician can. Most cosmetology schools cover the three basics: hair, skin, and nails. And if you are qualified and licensed, you should be able to practice in any of those areas.

However, just because you can doesn’t always mean you should. Be honest with yourself, did your courses cover in-depth skin care treatments, or did it just touch on the basics?

If you’ve been a hairstylist for 10 years and are looking to get into a skin care specialty that you haven’t practiced since beauty school, you might want to take a few refresher courses to make sure you know all the ins and outs.

Putting acid on someone’s face can (obviously) have negative effects if done improperly. So even if you’re technically licensed, make sure you feel confident and comfortable with the procedure. It will be more enjoyable for you and safer for your client.

State-by-state differences

The other consideration on whether or not a licensed cosmetologist can do chemical peels is state regulations.

The easiest way to find out what limitations your license has is by calling your state board and simply asking. They’ll be more than willing to answer any and all questions you might have!

As previously stated, most cosmetologists are licensed in skin care and can thus perform chemical peels. However, there are certain restrictions on what level of chemical peels you can perform, and special certification requirements necessary for estheticians and cosmetologists alike.

Chemical peel “levels”

There are three levels of chemical peels: light, moderate, and deep. The level of peel is consistent with the layers of skin they are working on as well as the type and strength of acid solution they are administering.

For example, a light peel is generally made up of AHAs or BHAs, depending on what they are treating. Light peels only remove the outermost layer of the skin and are the least abrasive. States such as California only allow light peels to be done by cosmetologists.

Moderate peels are made up of something called TCAs, which is a more aggressive treatment. It penetrates beyond the superficial down to the living layers of the skin. In states such as Washington, you must have a master esthetician license to perform moderate chemical peels.

Deep peels are generally only allowed to be done by medical professionals, like dermatologists or plastic surgeons, due to the potency of the acid and high risk potential.

Overall, licensed cosmetologists can generally perform light chemical peels in most states. However, always double check with your state board to ensure that you are in fact working within the legal regulations.

Can a cosmetologist do dermaplaning?

 

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Dermaplaning is a relatively new, yet surprisingly popular, procedure. It involves gently skimming a blade at an angle along the skin to remove hair, peach fuzz, and dead skin cells.

Dermaplaning claims to be one of the best at brightening skin, making it look more youthful, as well as lessening the appearance of deep acne scarring and uneven pockmarks. These benefits, however, are short lived, and the results tend to fade after about three weeks.

Dermaplaning is also commonly used in conjunction with other procedures, such as chemical peels or masks, because the following treatment can more easily penetrate the skin and enhance the results.

If you’re wondering if you, as a licensed cosmetologist, should perform this procedure, you should answer one question: did your school cover this topic? Because most basic programs don’t. If not, you will most likely need (and should take) formal training classes to be better prepared.

Do you need some cosmetology exam preparation? Take a free practice test!

As usual, different states have different requirements. States like Florida, Texas, and California don’t allow estheticians or cosmetologists to perform this treatment – only medical professionals.

States like Colorado, however, allow it to be practiced under the scope of a cosmetology license, but only if they complete training and receive a dermaplaning certificate first.

If you’re unsure of what your state restrictions are, be sure to check with your state board and ask about any extra licensing requirements that may be needed.

Can a cosmetologist do laser hair removal?

 

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Laser hair removal is an extremely popular procedure. Essentially what happens is a laser targets the hair follicles with highly concentrated light, heating them up to high temperatures and stunting their growth. The follicle absorbs the light and then gets destroyed.

The follicles will eventually fall out, but not immediately. Despite that, there are many benefits to this procedure, especially compared to shaving, plucking, and waxing. Some of those include:

  • Speed: the laser treats an area the size of a quarter every second, proving to be much quicker than shaving and painstakingly plucking.
  • Accuracy: the laser only targets the hair follicles, leaving the skin undamaged (although few people may have minor irritation).
  • Length of benefits: most clients can go months in between treatments, and generally after about four to seven treatments, the hair is removed permanently.

With such a long list of benefits, it is easy to see why it’s so popular, and why any cosmetologist or esthetician would like to add this to their repertoire.

Unfortunately, laser hair removal does not fall under the scope of practice for cosmetologists or estheticians in most cases. To make matters worse, this is one of those procedures whose restrictions gets really complicated, especially when you’re looking at it state-by-state.

For example, some states, like Virginia and New York, don’t have any formal law regarding laser treatments. Other states, like Florida, require additional “electrologist” courses and licensing. Still, states such as California prohibit anyone except medical professionals from performing such procedures.

How to get licensed as a laser hair removal technician

Regardless of whether or not there are mandatory requirements, you should consider taking extra training and getting licensed anyways.

Not only will this help your clients stay safe, but it will help you deliver proper, more professional-looking results. It will also help reassure your clients that you are well-educated and qualified to perform such procedures.

You want to find and enroll in an accredited laser training course, ideally one that offers hands-on training. Most courses only last for one to two weeks, but make sure the one you choose meets your state’s minimum requirements.

After your training, you may also need to get licensed. To do this, you will need to pass a written and practical examination, such as the NIC National Electrology exam. After you pass, you will officially be licensed!

Ultimately, it’s of the utmost importance to check with your state board and ask what other types of formal training and licensing are required. Remember, even if you get certified and licensed, you may still be restricted on how you can practice with it.

Can a cosmetologist do microdermabrasion?

Microdermabrasion is a popular and gentle exfoliating treatment. Due to its non-aggressive and quick nature, it’s most commonly performed in day spas within a series of other facial treatments.

Basically what happens during this procedure is a machine sprays tiny crystals on the skin, exfoliates with them, and then vacuums up the leftover crystals and dead skin cells. This is generally painless and quick, and most commonly done on the face and neck.

By essentially resurfacing the epidermis, it smoothes and brightens the skin, and improves skin tone (by increasing circulation). Even with its limitations (like aggravating severe acne), it still remains a staple in the average spa facial package.

As usual, whether or not you can offer this service to clients ultimately depends on state regulations. Most beauty schools do cover microdermabrasion in their basic training, so you’ll likely already be familiar with the procedure.

If you live in states like Texas, your basic cosmetologist or esthetician license will allow you to perform these procedures. However, states like Iowa require microdermabrasion certificates in addition to your license.

If you live in a state that does require specialized training and a certificate, don’t worry! Most courses only take one to two days, and provide both theory and hands-on training.

If you’re confused as to what your state requires, you can always call your state board and they will point you in the right direction.

Can a cosmetologist do waxing?

What Treatments Can Cosmetologists Do

Waxing – both body and facial – comprises a huge portion of the beauty industry. In fact, the hair removal industry grew 7.6% per year from 2010 to 2015. This increase could be due to a number of factors, such as more men getting treatments or new, cutting-edge technology.

Essentially, waxing involves using hard or soft wax (depending on the area to be treated) to quickly remove hair from the face or body. It is more cost effective than laser treatments, and the results last much longer than shaving. Plus, it’s easy to integrate into nearly any skin care regimen.

With such benefits, it’s obvious why it’s so popular. And with such growth, it’s no wonder why you’d want to get involved offering waxing to your clients! And the good news is, you can!

Yes, licensed cosmetologists can perform all types of waxing procedures, and that includes Brazilian waxing.

All cosmetology school courses cover waxing, including the rigorous sanitation standards and familiarizing you with the proper prepping and post-treatment requirements. As such, you’re licensed to perform this procedure on your clients.

There are, however, certain states where you can obtain a waxing license without going to beauty school. Those states are New York and Virginia, and they allow you to take a course and get licensed specifically in waxing.

Overall, though, your cosmetology or esthetician license should cover you for waxing any part of the body. If you’re unsure, however, it’s always best to contact your state board for the most up-to-date information.