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What is the Difference between a Beauty Therapist and an Aesthetician?

So, we’ve recently written about the beauty industry’s shift towards aesthetics. This information has led to questions from prospective students about the differences between a beauty therapist and an aesthetician. Today’s blog will describe the job specification for each role, their similarities, differences and the qualifications needed to achieve them.

What is a Beauty Therapist? 

A Beauty Therapist is a professionally trained therapist specialising in delivering beauty treatments. To successfully qualify as a beauty therapist in the UK, you will have to learn a range of treatments covering the face and body, alongside the anatomy and physiology of the human body.

These treatments include, but are not limited to:

  • Waxing
  • Facials, including clarifying, toning and extracting
  • Massages
  • Nail Maintenance, Manicures and Pedicures

What is an Aesthetician?

For the purpose of this blog, we would like to clarify that we are referring to a non-medical aesthetician. A medical Aesthetician as the name implies would have some form of medical training, a Doctor or a Nurse, before moving to focus on the aesthetics side. An aesthetician needs to have in-depth anatomy and physiology knowledge, hence why there were only previously medically trained aestheticians. However, as times progressed, many training bodies realised the demand for anatomy and physiology training as a standalone.

A non-medical aesthetician would have no medical training but will have anatomy and physiology training. Therefore they would have a thorough insight into the human body and its inner workings, allowing them to safely work as an aesthetician.

As an aesthetician, you are essentially a skincare specialist. Working closely with your clients to understand their skin and its concerns before fixing and maintaining their skin. Treatments that aestheticians can offer are:

  • Chemical skin peels
  • Laser treatments (hair removal and resurfacing)
  • Microneedling
  • Fillers and injectibles

The Differences between a Beauty Therapist & Aesthetician

As a Beauty Therapist, you can cover a wider range of treatments concerning the face and body, as outlined further above. Beauty therapists will often work in salons and spas which are accessible to everyday clients. As they are offering a variety of treatments, beauty therapists will have a variety of clients.

Aestheticians, on the other hand, will usually focus on treatments concerning the face. The treatments offered by aestheticians are more complex, requiring more advanced training. Aestheticians are likely to work in clinics with expensive, high-grade equipment and treatments are a little pricier. Due to the bespoke treatments offered by aestheticians, their clients are willing to spend extra to reap the benefits.

Qualifications needed to become a Beauty Therapist?

In the UK, if you are looking to certify as a fully-qualified Beauty Therapist, you must achieve;

  • Level 2 Beauty Therapy Diploma
  • Level 3 Beauty Therapy Diploma

On the Level 2 qualification, you learn the basics needed to become a beauty therapist. The basics will cover skin analysis, cleansing and toning methods, facial massage and skin care. These are the foundations for most treatments, so they are mastered before you can move on to Level 3. However, due to the diverse nature of Beauty Therapy, Level 2 also teaches manicures, pedicures, waxing, eyelash and brow tinting.

During the Level 3 course, a Beauty Therapist will learn the more complicated treatments such as massages, facial and body electrotherapy, and head massages. The Level 3 Beauty Therapy Diploma also teaches students Anatomy & Physiology. As mentioned before, this is relevant for those offering treatments concerning the face and body. 

Once the training for Level 2 and 3 Beauty Therapy Diplomas has finished, students can join the beauty industry as qualified Beauty Therapists.

What Qualifications are Required to be an Aesthetician?

Compared to the diverse nature of the Beauty Therapy Diploma, those studying to become an aesthetician will focus mainly on facial aesthetics. Therefore to qualify as an Aesthetician in the UK, you need:

The Level 2 Facial and Skin Care course teaches students to complete thorough skin analysis, massage, steaming, exfoliation and moisturising. Students will also learn how to understand their client’s skin better to create tailor-made masks and treatments. To successfully understand the client’s skin concerns, students training to be an aesthetician will learn how to conduct client consultations. 

On Level 3 Facial Electrotherapy, students further their knowledge of advanced facial treatments. The treatments include electrical facials – facial electrotherapy:

  • Microcurrent (non-surgical facelift)
  • Faradic
  • High Frequency (direct and indirect)
  • Vacuum Suction (lymphatic drainage)
  • Galvanic (desincrustation and Iontophoresis)

These treatments are very advanced but are also the basis for most facials delivered via machines. Level 3 will cover Anatomy & Physiology also, which is necessary to move on to Level 4 Training.

Depending on the treatments you’d like to offer as an aesthetician would influence the Level 4 training you undergo. If you want to specialise in Laser, you train in Level 4 Laser & IPL. We will often recommend Laser & IPL training as the first stop for those interested in Aesthetics.

The Advanced Level 4 Laser & IPL Treatments Qualification

In the Level 4 Laser & IPL course at LSBM, students work with a professional laser therapist who will teach them how to use the industries leading laser machines. Laser is a popular choice for clients looking for a permanent solution to hair removal or for those looking to treat long-lasting skin concerns through laser skin rejuvenation. 

At LSBM, we recommend Laser & IPL due to the in-depth nature of the course. Level 4 learners receive their training on 2 leading laser & IPL machines covering various body parts. This training will prepare them for other advanced courses and further their Anatomy & Physiology knowledge. Hence why we recommend Laser & IPL to those starting their advanced aesthetic training journey.

So Beauty Therapy or Aesthetics?

Simply put, it depends on your passions and interest. Maybe you are more interested in offering clients manicures, pedicures and the odd facial. Maybe you want to offer massages and waxing. Then the Beauty Therapy route is more suitable for you. As a Beauty Therapist, you should be passionate about the various beauty treatments you can offer as there is no guarantee of what your client will want.

If you are solely interested in the facial side of beauty, then you should consider an aesthetician career. For most people, their face is a large part of their identity, so they’re willing to make it look the best. As an aesthetician, this is where you come in, working closely with clients to give them their dream skin. 

Regardless of the route you choose, here at The London School of Beauty & Make-Up, we can answer your questions and make your decision that bit easier. If you would like to talk to a member of staff about the best route for you, then give us a call on 020 3966 8690.

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