Cosmetology Vs. Esthetics. What’s the Difference?

The beauty industry is vast and varied with careers ranging from barber to spa technician to the gold standard cosmetologist. Plus, all of these careers can come with specialities that vary greatly, too.

What a cosmetologist learns in Alabama could be vastly different from what they will learn in Minnesota.

With so many variations, attaining a career in beauty can feel slightly overwhelming!

Do not worry; it is simpler than you think. At The Salon Professional Academy(TSPA), Maplewood we are ready to help you cut through the confusion and find the career path that will help lead you to your own beautiful future.

Discover the difference between a career in cosmetology and esthetics and find out which one is right for you!


noun cos·me·tol·o·gy \ ˌkäz-mə-ˈtä-lə-jē \

The professional skill or practice of beautifying the face, hair, and skin.

woman  doing another womans hair

Have you always been obsessed with hair? Are you the friend everyone goes to for help before their big date? If you have dreamed of a future in cosmetology since you were a child, or if its a new love, gaining an education that will go beyond the basics is important for your future.

At The Salon Professional Academy, Maplewood we are committed to your future and to helping you develop the skill and knowledge you need to reach your dreams. Read more about our cosmetology program here.

Education Requirements

  • 1,550 hours of education and practical training. Broken up into 1,130 hours of practical skills and 420 hours of theory these hours are required to be completed by a students seeking a career in cosmetology.
  • Practical Skills Requirements Cosmetology is a skills based career, and because of this it is important to make sure that all future cosmetologists understand and are able to competently execute certain tasks.
    • Shampoo and Conditioning
    • Hair Design
    • Hair Shaping
    • Styling and Cutting
    • Chemical relaxing and waving
    • Makeup application
    • Waxing and non-electric hair removal
    • Care or skin and nails
    • Manicures and Pedicures
    • Facials
  • Theory Education Requirement Each cosmetology student must obtain a knowledge of certain topics as per the licensing division in Minnesota. Some of the topics that are required to be covered include:
    • Anatomy
    • Chemistry
    • Dermatology
    • Infection Control
    • Safety and Sanitation

Cosmetology is often regarded as an all-inclusive beauty education. And while that may not be completely true, in Minnesota an education in cosmetology goes beyond hair, delving into esthetics and nail technology. This inclusive education can help broaden your skills, and your career potential.

If you are more interested in focusing just on makeup, as well as the care of skin, then an education in esthetics might be for you.


noun aes·thet·ic \ ēs-ˈthe-tik , is-\

The branch of cosmetology that studies the principles of beauty, focused on physical appearance and care of the skin.

woman getting a facemask at a spa

Do you love helping your friends get fresh, beautiful skin? Are you often regarded as the one with all the secrets to skin problems and makeup? While an education in esthetics goes beyond the essentials in skin, it can help you develop the skills you need for a future full of fresh faces.

Education Requirements

  • 600 hours of education and practical training. These hours, to be split between practical and theory based training, are required to be completed by a students seeking a career in esthetics.
  • Practical Skills Requirements A career in esthetics focuses mainly on the skills that are required of the student in the workplace. Because of the hands on nature of this beauty based career, the student must learn and show ability in the following areas:
    • Skin Analysis
    • Temporary Hair Removal
    • Brow and Lash Tinting
    • Care and Health of Skin and Nails
    • Facials
    • Waxing and non-electric hair removal
  • Theory Education RequirementThe foundation to any beauty career is based on the knowledge of health, safety, and care of the body. These skills must be mastered, and will be tested as per the state licensing board in Minnesota.
    • Anatomy
    • Cosmetic Ingredients
    • Dermatology
    • Infection Control
    • Safety and Sanitation

If you are passionate about skin and are looking for an education that will get you working faster than a career in esthetics could be your perfect fit.

Which of these beautiful careers sound right for you?

woman getting her makeup done

If you are ready to explore where each of these beautiful career paths can take you we invite you to come in for a tour. Our admissions coordinator and friendly staff are ready to introduce you to our beautiful facility, and help you discover what future could await you.

Schedule your tour today.

For more information about our graduation rates, the median loan debt of students who completed the program and other information visit