Searching For A New Esthetician? Here's What You Should Look For

Sometimes, serums, spot treatments, and at-home devices simply aren't enough to overcome your skin woes. That's where an esthetician comes in. Estheticians typically don't undergo the rigorous medical training of dermatologists, but they have the knowledge and specialized treatments to refresh dull, congested, or mildly irritated skin. And a trustworthy one can make all the difference for your complexion.

If you're looking for a reliable esthetician, it's important to first understand how they differ from other skin professionals. The terms "esthetician" and "aesthetician" are sometimes used interchangeably, though some people reserve "aesthetician" for clinical skincare providers who offer medical-grade treatments (per Indeed). You may also see titles like "facialist" being used in place of "esthetician." A dermatologist, on the other hand, is highly trained and able to diagnose skin conditions. According to Healthline, it's best to see a dermatologist first if you're dealing with issues such as rashes, eczema, or persistent acne.

Generally, an esthetician is equipped to handle skin maintenance and superficial concerns through facials, hair removal, exfoliating treatments, and other non-invasive procedures. However, not all estheticians are the same — nor will they all be a good fit — so it's vital to know what to look for when choosing one.

Your esthetician should have proper training

It might seem like anyone with a passion for skincare could learn how to perform facials or wax unwanted hair, but estheticians offering these and other services must be well-trained. While requirements can vary depending on location, a license is usually mandatory before facialists can legally work in salons and spas. To become licensed, aspiring estheticians must study at a cosmetology school. Then, they're required to pass an esthetics exam. "The first section is written, with the second being practical. The written portion of the exam really depends on the state, as each state's laws are different," Sharlena Hassani, a licensed esthetician and founder/CEO of Artisan of Skin, explained to InStyle. "Questions are rather diverse but generally will take into account state laws, safety and health issues, skin conditions and disorders, how to analyze ingredients and skin care procedures."

So how can you know if the esthetician you're eyeing has the right training? Check their website for information on their educational background, and don't hesitate to ask if they're licensed. Depending on where you live, you may also be able to look up their license validity on your state or country's cosmetology board website (a quick Google search should help you find it).

They offer the treatments you need

According to the American Esthetician Organization, estheticians are generally able to perform a variety of skin-boosting services, depending on their clients' needs. With that said, it doesn't hurt to seek out a professional who's known for targeting your specific skin concerns. If you notice bumps and whiteheads, you might have clogged pores (via Cleveland Clinic) and could use a hand from an esthetician who specializes in deep-cleaning facials. If you're struggling with hyperpigmentation or discoloration, look for an esthetician who offers the best microdermabrasion treatment in your town.

Note that there are also different types of estheticians. During your search, you may come across holistic estheticians, who view the skin as an extension of the rest of the body, medical estheticians, who work out of doctors' offices and are trained to provide intensive treatments, and other professional titles. Consider which most closely resembles the kind of approach and results you hope to achieve. If you're not sure what services or style to look for, consider going to a dermatologist first to rule out any diagnosable skin conditions. Then, they may be able to refer you to an esthetician suitable for your skin needs.

They have stellar reviews

A new esthetician may have just opened up shop in your area, or you might have stumbled upon a recent beauty school grad's profile on social media. However, you should wait to book an appointment until you have checked their reviews and track record. The last thing you want is to unwittingly become a guinea pig for an inexperienced newcomer.

If possible, find a recommendation from within your circle. "Word of mouth is always the best recommendation when searching for professional skin therapists," Holly Sherrard, Canadian education manager with The International Dermal Institute, revealed to SheKnows. A friend or family member may also be able to fill you in on which estheticians to avoid, based on their personal experience.

Online reviews and ratings are also a good way to gauge which estheticians may or may not be trustworthy, as well as local magazines and business directories. Additionally, look over a spa or esthetician's website for testimonials and, in some cases, "before" and "after" photos showcasing their work.

They're trustworthy and prioritize safety

You shouldn't trust just anyone with your skin, which is why it's crucial to build rapport before an esthetician starts working their magic on your face. One way to do this is by chatting with them before booking an appointment. "Especially if this is your first facial," Gabi Stephan, a holistic esthetician and makeup artist at Lena Rose Spa, told Apoterra. "Seeing an esthetician requires a lot of trust and comfort, so any good esthetician will be willing to talk to you ahead of time to make sure you are both on the same page," she added.

Your conversation can take place in online messages or in person, though the latter can be a better way to size up the safety practices of the spa or clinic. "When you first walk into her or his office, look around and pay attention," celebrity facialist Kát Rudu suggested to Mixed Makeup. "Is the room and the counter clean? Are the work materials in containers, such as the gauze, cotton, gloves, scissors?" These details can help you decide if the space is sanitary or not. If anything seems off, listen to your gut and find another business.

They schedule a consultation to get to know you better

You've found an esthetician who might be a good fit, so it's finally time to book a service, right? Not so fast. "The skin-care consultation is crucial," Madison Tran, a top general aesthetician at Clarins Skin Spa, shared with Refinery29. "The aesthetician needs to understand what your objectives and concerns are, and analyze your skin to make a customized approach that will achieve the best results." The consultation often happens first, before you schedule a standard appointment.

You might wonder if a consultation is a waste of time but know that it's actually an essential component of your skincare treatments. Without a thorough examination of your skin, an esthetician might not provide the services you need — which is why you should skip any practitioner that doesn't offer one. "A good facialist should perform an in-depth consultation before your treatment and listen to your concerns," Justine Masters, a licensed skin therapist and holistic facialist, told Beauty Daily. "They should never tell you what your concerns are. I usually get [clients] to list their top three concerns on my consultation forms." Masters also uses consultations to get to know more about a client's lifestyle habits, skincare routine, and any products that may cause irritation or an allergic reaction.

Their products fit your needs

Depending on your skin concerns, your esthetician will likely use special products and formulas to treat you. If you're already familiar with some facialist-approved brands, you may be able to find a product that matches your preferences. As Cecily J. Braden, an international spa educator and the founder of Beauty Secrets, told Apoterra, an esthetician who offers your favorite salon product lines may be more likely to be on the same wavelength. "It also will help with your home care because it's a product you know works for your skin," Braden added. "And you can establish a local resource to make sure you are choosing the products right for your skin type."

If you're not sure which brands you like, that's okay. Still, take note of which — and how many — brands and lines your esthetician offers. "If you see that your aesthetician is only using one skincare line, this is probably a bad sign. The options will be limited within your treatment if your provider is bound to only one product line," Dali Gandara, a SkinSpirit aesthetician, revealed to HuffPost. "It could also mean that they will be more motivated to push these products on you and sell you more than you need."

If your new esthetician is inflexible with product recommendations, or if they don't seem to personalize their treatments, consider finding another professional who can offer more skincare products to suit your needs.