AskDefine | Define beautician

Dictionary Definition

beautician n : someone who works in a beauty parlor [syn: cosmetician]

User Contributed Dictionary



  1. A person whose occupation is to do hair styling, manicures, and other beauty treatments.

Extensive Definition

Cosmetology is the study and application of beauty treatment. Branches of specialty including hairstyling, skin care, cosmetics, manicures/pedicures, and electrology.

Titles of cosmetologists

Hair stylist

A hair stylist specializes in the styling of hair, including cutting, chemical perms (relaxers, curls, waves and color treatments,shampoos).

Shampoo technician

A shampoo technician shampooes and conditions a client's hair in preparation for the hair stylist. A shampoo tech may assist with rinsing permanent waves, and shampooing color and chemical relaxers out of the hair after processing. Shampoo techs are normally only employed by corporate or concept salons and large-volume beauty salons that are operated simultaneously. In some states, a shampoo tech must have a cosmetology permit. This is usually a temporary position, held by a person who is newly licensed with little or no experience.


A manicure is a cosmetic beauty treatment for the fingernails and/or hands. The word "manicure" derives from Latin: manus for hand, cura for "care". When performed on the feet, such a treatment is called a pedicure.
Many manicures start by soaking the hands or feet in a softening substance and the application of lotion. A common type of manicure involves shaping the nails and application of nail polish. A manicure may also include the application of artificial nail tips, acrylics or artificial nail gels. Some manicures can include the painting of pictures or designs on the nails or applying small decals or imitation jewels.
In many areas, manicurists are licensed and follow regulation. Since skin is manipulated and is sometimes trimmed, there is a certain risk of spreading infection when tools are used across many people and therefore sanitation is a serious issue.


An esthetician specializes in the study of skin care, including facial treatments, body wraps (relaxing treatments which involve hot linens, plastic sheets, and blankets), salt glows (an exfoliation treatment), waxing as a form of hair removal, and cosmetic make-up services. Some estheticians work with dermatologists to offer more services, including laser hair removal, laser skin resurfacing, microdermabrasion, and many types of chemical peels.
An esthetician can be licensed solely for that skill. An esthetician is not neccesarily licensed in cosmetology, but is typically well versed in knowledge of skin care.

Nail technician

A nail technician specializes in the art form and care of nails. This includes manicures, pedicures, acrylic nails, gel nails, nail wraps, un nails, etc. They are also knowledgeable in nail irregularities and diseases, and may be able to identify such problems. They do not treat diseases, and would typically refer a client to a physician.


An electrologist offers hair removal services with the use of an electrolysis machine. As opposed to the hair removal via waxing offered by an esthetician, hair removal via electrolysis is permanent. It has recently been argued that barbers are also cosmetologists who extend the hair stylist speciality with services especially for men, such as shaving.

Becoming a cosmetologist

In the United States of America, all states require barbers, cosmetologists, and most other personal appearance workers (with the exception of shampooers) to be licensed; however, qualifications for a licence vary by state. Generally, a person must have graduated from a state-licensed barber or cosmetology school and be at least 16 years old. A few states require applicants to pass a physical examination. Some states require graduation from high school, while others require as little as an eighth-grade education. In a few states, the completion of an apprenticeship can substitute for graduation from a school, but very few barbers or cosmetologists learn their skills this way. Applicants for a licence usually are required to pass a written test and demonstrate an ability to perform basic barbering or cosmetology services.
In most states, there is a legal distinction between barbers and cosmetologists, with different licensing requirements. These distinctions and requirements vary from state to state. In most states, cosmetology sanitation practices and ethical practices are governed by the state's health department and a Board of Cosmetology. These entities ensure public safety by regulating sanitation products and practices and licensing requirements. Consumer complaints are usually directed to these offices and investigated from there.
If someone were interested in studying cosmetology, they could take a general cosmetology course and graduate, being able to test to become licensed for all of the things listed above, or they could choose to study only to become a manicurist or cosmetician. There are private schools, and many vocational schools offer cosmetology to high school students. In addition, there are national organizations that provide educational and professional information.


Most cosmetologists are paid in one of three ways:
  • Commission: A percentage of the money made from the provision of services is given back to the cosmetologist as pay. Many paid this way are considered self-employed, and are responsible for taxes. The salon will provide overhead expenses such as products, lights, water, etc.
  • Booth rental: The cosmetologist "rents" a space in the salon, for a monthly fee. This type of pay is defined as self-employment and the cosmetologist is responsible for all products used (perms, colour etc.) as well as taxes. In many states, this form of payment is illegal, owing to the difficulty of regulating the individual cosmetologist both legally and business wise.
  • Hourly wage: Many corporate and small chains are going in this direction since it promotes a more controlled product by ensuring that employees are responsible for following company standards and policies.
Tips are another source of income. Skilled cosmetologists can often make a considerable portion of their income from tips from customers.

See also


beautician in Dutch: Schoonheidsspecialist
beautician in Polish: Kosmetologia
beautician in Portuguese: Cosmetologia
beautician in Russian: Косметология
beautician in Finnish: Kosmetologia
beautician in Swedish: Kosmetologi
beautician in Slovak: Kozmetika
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