Can a Licensed Esthetician Treat Acne?

Can a licensed esthetician treat acne? In some cases, yes. Estheticians specialize in cosmetic, rather than medical, skincare treatments. While they can't prescribe acne medications or treat some of the more serious forms of acne, they can help you care for your skin and perform professional treatments.

Woman getting a facial
  John Burke / Getty Images

If you have cystic acne or severe acne, it is likely that you will need prescription medications and you will need to see a dermatologist. As a physician, a dermatologist is able to prescribe topical or systemic medications. They are also able to carry out procedures such as chemical peel, laser therapy, drainage and extractions that estheticians cannot do or are limited in doing in certain states.

What an Esthetician Can Do to Keep Your Skin Clear

Here's a rundown of what your esthetician can do for you that may help keep acne breakouts at bay:

  • Estheticians perform facial treatments. Facials include deep cleansing, exfoliation, facial steams, massage, and more. These treatments can help clear out your pores and remove dead skin.
  • Estheticians can do extractions. Extracting, or cleaning out, non-inflamed pore blockages will help your skin feel smoother and can help stop inflamed pimples from forming. She won't be able to treat any inflamed pores, just as you shouldn't squeeze inflamed pimples at home.
  • Estheticians can advise on the proper care of your skin. Your esthetician can give you great skincare tips, plus answer your most burning questions (like whether it's okay to skip your nightly cleansing). You may want to prepare a list of questions in advance so you can make the most of your time with her and use her knowledge and expertise.
  • Estheticians can recommend appropriate skincare products for your skin type. Not sure which cleanser is right for you? Want to sample a few moisturizers before buying? Your esthetician can help in these situations. They can also suggest effective over-the-counter acne treatments for you to try. This is also a time when you might want to ask about specific products or types of products that interest you and get her opinion. Be sure to tell her about any prescription products you are taking so she can take those into account.
  • Estheticians can perform certain specialty procedures. Professional treatments like microdermabrasion and light chemical peels can be done by your esthetician (in most states). Be sure to give your medical history to the esthetician, especially if you have diabetes or another condition that might delay healing, you are allergic to any chemicals or products, or you are taking any medications that may affect your skin. You may want to discuss plans for procedures with your healthcare provider in advance if you have concerns.

Seeing an Esthetician

A licensed esthetician can be a great partner to help you get clearer skin, although there are some things an esthetician can't do. If you're ready to start seeing an esthetician, call your local salon or medi-spa, ask for referrals, and check out the esthetician's credentials before your appointment. Some estheticians may say they are acne specialists, but there is no official credential for that area.

3 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. What Can Clear Severe Acne?. American Academy of Dermatology Association.

  2. How to Get Rid of Blackheads. Cleveland Clinic. January 2020.

  3. What Skincare Specialists Do. Bureau of Labor Statistics September 2019.

Additional Reading
  • Acne. American Academy of Dermatology.

  • Gerson J, DAngelo J, Deitz S, Lotz S. Milady Standard Esthetics: Fundamentals. Clifton Park, NY: Cengage Learning; 2013.

By Angela Palmer
Angela Palmer is a licensed esthetician specializing in acne treatment.