Aah, who doesn’t love a relaxing day of pampering at the spa? Luxury and beauty treatments, such as facials, can rejuvenate our skin and boost our self-esteem, but there’s more to this area of care. Like dermatologists, aestheticians can provide safe and effective solutions to heal acne, mild breakouts, aging concerns, dry skin or sensitivity. So, when should you seek a medical opinion from a doctor vs. the expertise of a trained aesthetician?
Dermatology vs. Aesthetics
Both dermatologists and aestheticians are skin care specialists, who must complete training and pass exams in order to perform skin care services.
Dermatologists are medical practitioners. When you visit a board-certified dermatologist, you can be assured of a few things: They have four years of undergrad education, four years of medical school and up to four years of in-field experience in a residency program, all of which prepared them to pass the board certification exams.
Aestheticians are certified clinicians for a host of skin conditions. They are also required to pass licensing exams, but their training and education requirements vary by state. Aesthetic treatment options are less invasive and exclude prescription products, but they may not be enough to heal certain skin problems.
When I was struggling with skin issues, I saw a dermatologist first. I was immediately “diagnosed” with adult acne, a generalized finding since it was obvious! I was put on a very serious regimen of prescription drugs that did not improve my skin and, instead, messed with my body in other harmful ways.
The source of my skin issues was of less interest to my dermatologist than my aesthetician. For me, that was key in determining the right solution for me. I learned I needed to rule out the external factors. My aesthetician required I inventory every product I used on my skin — even my lifestyle habits. This is when I started reading labels, and I haven’t stopped!
What You Can Do
As my aesthetician and I discussed my “life” and everything that encompassed, obvious triggers started to unfold. Still today, I adhere to the philosophy of educating myself and looking outside the box when it comes to caring for my skin and body. You can adopt this approach, too, by considering the external factors you can control, and then how to minimize the effects of the ones you can’t control. Pay close attention to:
- What you eat most of the time — not all of the time, because we all deserve a plate of gooey nachos on occasion!
- What ingredients are in your personal care products and use those with labels with words you can pronounce. (Google the ones you can’t and keep that list to a minimum.)
- Your water intake — I force myself to drink lots of water, sometimes adding a touch of agave nectar to make it a sweet treat.
- Your sunscreen regime — Now, I apply sunscreen daily and wish I had that rule of thumb 20 years ago!
Finding a Qualified Aesthetician
If you decide to see an aesthetician first — or if you’re like me and have already visited a dermatologist with no luck — doing a bit of research to find a qualified specialist will be necessary. It is important to know their level of certification, years of industry experience and their basic ideology in solving the skin problems that plague you.
Make sure they aren’t structured just to sell products. If they are, ask a few questions about the line they support and dig a bit deeper with Dr. Google. Study the true “active” ingredients. Medical-grade product lines may be needed to support the treatment of aging and cystic acne, for example.
Ask for referrals. Repeat customers can provide you with an important history of how the aesthetician addresses skin care concerns and attempts to fix them.
Ask if they work closely with a dermatologist in the area. Be leery of any aesthetician who believes their role is absolute when it comes to caring for your skin — same goes for dermatologists. These two people, when properly aligned, can provide amazing results for your skin.