Cosmetologist vs Esthetician

What's the Difference between Estheticians and Cosmetologists?

Put down the makeup brush and face scrub; this isn’t a battle royal of beauty professionals. However, that would be something to see. Instead, in this brief explanation, we wanted to explore the difference between the two professions and how it relates to the professional liability insurance available for both careers. 

Frequently, folks will use esthetician and cosmetologist interchangeably, but this is not precisely correct. While it is true that each profession works with clients to promote beauty, they are distinctly unique in treatments, operations, and the liabilities associated with each career path. Let’s take a good long look at these differences as we explain the difference between an esthetician and a cosmetologist. 

What is an Esthetician? 

Let’s start with the 10,000-foot view and explain what an esthetician does on a day-to-day basis. An esthetician’s primary focus is on ensuring the health and wellness of the skin and will also provide hair removal. Each day, an esthetician may use a number of spa treatments, skincare solutions, hair removal products, body waxing, and other instruments to create beautiful and healthy skin on the faces of their clients. 

The primary focus of an esthetician is on skincare and maintenance. While treating and beautifying skin for their clients, estheticians will sometimes use multiple tools, solutions, and products to enhance the health and aesthetic of their client’s skin. The end result of these treatments is hopefully radiant skin that is both healthy and beautiful. 

Estheticians and Liability

Unfortunately, while estheticians work closely with their clients to promote beauty, there are some inherent risks of injury or bodily harm. The daily use of different products and tools increases the possibility of burns, bad reactions, or other mishaps. If a client sustains an injury while under an esthetician's care, it could lead to a liability lawsuit or claim against them. 

Because there is a natural risk of liability involved in the line of beauty work, esthetician insurance has become an essential tool for every beauty professional. Providing protection from a professional, general, or product liability lawsuit is exactly what insurance for estheticians is intended to do. 

What is a Cosmetologist?

A cosmetologist will cover a wide range of areas that may include nails, hair, makeup, some light skincare, eyelashes, and eyebrows. Each day a cosmetologist will work with their clients to make them look their best with makeup and touch-ups. Some cosmetology tasks may include light hair removal, waxing, scalp/facial treatments, manicures, pedicures, and potentially some hair styling. 

A cosmetologist primarily focuses on the beautification process for their clients and giving them their best looks. They could be working with their customers in close proximity using a wide range of instruments, products, and equipment in their daily work. Because a licensed cosmetologist can provide a plethora of services, they often wear a good many hats over the course of their career. 

Potential Liabilities for Cosmetologists

With any occupation, there is a possibility that an accident or mishap may occur, and cosmetology is no different. As a beauty worker, each day presents an opportunity to use the skills you have learned to boost the confidence of your clients in their own appearance. However, there is always the risk that something could go wrong during treatment.

Some common professional liability claims against cosmetologists include cuts, burns, bad reactions, and puncture wounds. Let alone the ever-present potential of trips and falls. While you would certainly never intentionally cause a client harm, accidents can happen over the course of your career. 

Because the potential for liabilities exists, the need for cosmetologist insurance also exists. Cosmetologist insurance helps keep your finances protected should a client lobby a liability lawsuit against you for a professional, general, or product liability-related incident. If you face a liability lawsuit, cosmetology insurance could help cover the costs of the claim and legal defense fees, if necessary. 

Common Ground Between the Two

Though there are some distinct differences between a cosmetologist and an esthetician, there is a good deal of common ground, as well. Both work directly with their clients in the beauty industry, and both a cosmetologist and an esthetician will use a variety of tools and treatments in their line of work. 

Here are some specifics that may overlap between the two professions:

  • Skincare: Though it will be to different extents, both a cosmetologist and an esthetician will use different products, skincare treatments, or instruments on their clients. These treatments could be a facial mask, a scrub, or a light massage with a skincare product.

  • Hair removal: Licensed cosmetologists and estheticians can perform some level of hair removal. Typically, waxing is the most common practice, but threading could also be a method used in both professions.

  • Light massage techniques: Though neither are considered masseuses, each occupation can involve using some massage elements. A cosmetologist may massage a client's legs, feet, and hands, while an esthetician will likely massage the face and skin while applying a treatment.

  • Makeup application: Both cosmetologists and estheticians will apply makeup to their clients on a regular basis. Often, makeup application will involve close proximity to clients and using small instruments around the face. Both cosmetologists and estheticians have to have a steady hand in applying makeup, particularly around the eyes, nose, and mouth.

  • Hairstyling: Though it is not the primary focus of either profession, it is possible that hairstyling is a part of both an esthetician’s and cosmetologist’s work routine.

  • Hygenic standards: one common factor that may not immediately come to mind is the hygienic practices that both occupations have to keep up with. Throughout their careers, both cosmetologists and estheticians will need to keep their work area, instruments, and themselves sanitary for the safety of their clients. This entails the use of chemical cleaners and other agents to keep everything clean and healthy.

  • Knowledge of anatomy: Every beauty professional needs to have a basic understanding of human anatomy in order to perform their work. Because cosmetologists and estheticians perform waxing and skincare treatments and work directly with the bodies of their clients, they need to have a basic understanding of the anatomical workings.

  • Required licensing: Though it can vary by state requirements, both occupations are required to be licensed in order to continue practicing beauty work. Each field has its regulated licensing process that may include continuing educational units (CEUs) or other requirements.

  • The need for liability insurance: Both cosmetologists and estheticians could face potential liability claims over the course of their respective careers. Because each occupation involves working directly with the public, the possible liabilities make cosmetologist insurance and esthetician insurance essential for each profession. 

How Cosmetologists Differ from Estheticians

Now that we have covered how they are similar, let’s look at the difference between cosmetologists and estheticians. Each profession will have its own unique disciplines, practices, work environments, and licensing requirements. Though there is a good deal of overlapping techniques and knowledge, some of the key places they differ are:

  • Work environment: The first essential difference is that cosmetologists and estheticians are typically found in different places of business. A cosmetologist is generally going to work in a salon or beauty parlor, as these best suit their particular expertise. Whereas an esthetician will most likely work in a spa or health club.

  • Focus: While both are promoters of beauty, a cosmetologist will center on the presentation (nails, hair, makeup, etc.), whereas an esthetician will primarily focus on the health of the skin. Both still have a goal of beautification but will use different methods to achieve that goal for their clients. At the root of an esthetician’s work, they promote beauty through the skin's health outward, whereas a cosmetologist promotes beauty working on the outer layers of the body.

  • Instruments: Because cosmetologists focus primarily on the hair and nails side of beauty, they will have particular devices they use. These tools of their trade could be massage chairs, nail files, clippers, scissors, threading tools, and waxing components. An esthetician, on the other hand, is primarily concerned with the skin, so they will likely use exfoliating tools, lasers for hair removal, UV instruments, etc.

  • Products: The products that each occupation will use with their clients can vary vastly depending on the treatment. Cosmetologists will typically use more scrubs, gels, and nail polish while working with their clients. Estheticians, however, are likely to use products that are focused on the health of their client’s skin. A few common examples are masks, lotions, and rejuvenating creams.

  • Licensing: While both are required to have some form of licensing, estheticians will be authorized for different practices than cosmetologists. For example, while both may be permitted to perform waxing, an esthetician will often be required to have a license to perform laser hair removal, as well. 

Insurance for Cosmetologists and Estheticians

Though they are different in many ways, one critical common need for both occupations is to protect themselves with liability insurance. Check out the professional insurance policies for cosmetologists and estheticians and protect your beauty career today.