Dermatologist vs. Esthetician

A lot of people always ask me if they should see a dermatologist or continue seeing an esthetician.  My answer is always “it depends.”

Dermatologists are medical professionals who diagnose and treat skin disorders and diseases like eczema or skin cancer.  They can write prescriptions for medications needed to help treat these diseases.  Estheticans are also professionals who specialize in cosmetic skin treatments like facials, chemical peels, waxing, etc. We can not make a diagnosis or prescribe medicine, but instead suggest products that help maintain skin health.

A lot of people who see dermatologists actually don’t really need to.  Experiencing a few breakouts isn’t cause for a visit, especially if you only cleanse your face once a day, don’t moisturize and sleep in your makeup…..Ummmm obviously you’re going to break out.  Your face is full of mold and dirt!


Here are a few more differences:


All doctors, regardless of the type, have limited time.  Most patients get 10-15 minutes to spend with the doctor unless some sort of procedure is being performed.  Dermatologists can perform in office procedures for certain conditions.  Estheticians usually get a minimum of 60 minutes to perform treatments and talk to clients about their needs.

When I talk to my clients I really get to know them.  I ask about their personal life, not to be nosey, but to find out what kind of products would work best for them.  For example, I 6a010536b3f44b970b0162fd6f934b970d-200wiknow a lot of moms who have very little time to care for themselves because they’re raising a family.  They typically are the ones who don’t spend much time on themselves.  I wouldn’t recommend an elaborate 8-product regimen to someone like that.  I would recommend a few products that are super easy to use and don’t take much time to apply.

Product Recommendation

Product recommendation is probably the part of my job I enjoy the most.  That’s my time to educate people.  As an esthetician I study ingredients and which ones work best for different skin types.  I am constantly reading industry books.  Any time I look at a product I look at the ingredient list, just like when I buy food I examine the nutrition label.  Daily maintenance (how you take care of your skin at home) accounts for about 80% of the results you’ll see with skin care.  So making sure my clients understand how and when to use the right products is very important.

I’ve never personally seen a dermatologist, but from talking to a lot of clients and friends who have, they tend to recommend a lot of the same products to everyone:  usually Dove soap and either Cetaphil or Cerave.  First of all, I would not recommend anyone to use Dove soap on their face.  It’s way too drying and strips the face of it’s natural pH; way too harsh.  I find that dermatologists don’t necessarily recommend the best products for clients who have moderate or hardly any acne, outside of prescribing things like acne medication.  They know the acne medicine so that’s what they prescribe. What they don’t know is product knowledge.

I’ve seen clients who think they have the worse skin on the planet and seem to get me to tell them they have horrible acne when most of the time that’s not the case.  I refuse to recommend products that won’t be beneficial.  It’s a waste of money.  I feel dermatologists give in and prescribe acne medication to a lot of people who don’t need it.  But by asking the right questions about what the client is doing to their skin would reveal all they need are some good products, persistence, and patience.

Knowing what’s on the market

As an esthetician I am constantly studying new products.  Certain ingredients have been around for a while but marketers tend to heavily market certain ones.  For example, hyaluronic acid has been around since forever but once marketers started using it as a “buzz word” consumers became familiar with what it does (hydrate).  Same thing with charcoal.  Within the past year or 2 a lot of companies have used that particular ingredient in new products.  I like to know what is being marketed as the “current best thing” and the “next best thing.”  That way I’ll have an idea of what my clients have been exposed to and let them know how it works.


Obviously dermatologist’s main objective is not relaxation; it’s to correct skin diseases/conditions.  Estheticians do provide a level bigstock-Spa-Facial-Mask-Dayspa-12573125of relaxation with certain facial treatments.  During a facial I massage the arms, hands, neck, shoulders, and scalp if the client wants.  Also there is always soothing music playing, the client is laying down, and the atmosphere is set for nothing but relaxation.

I’m not saying I dislike dermatologists or they don’t know what they are doing.  Obviously they are doctors.  However, I disagree with the time they don’t or can’t spend with their patients because when those people come to me it makes my job ten times harder.  It’s hard to convince people that a dermatologist recommended a product that won’t be helpful.

Let me know what you guys think!  Have any of you ever been to a dermatologist?  Did they tell you to use bar soap?

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