What is a Licensed Cosmetologist?

Matt Brady

A licensed cosmetologist is able to provide a wide array of beauty services. Generally, today’s cosmetology schools provide licensing for full cosmetology, covering the three major beauty disciplines: hair, skin, nails. Students may also have the option to train for only one particular discipline. Licensed cosmetologists, on average, study for about a year before receiving their license. Licenses aren't only acquired for the credibility which they confer, but because they're often mandated by local or regional governments in order for a person to practice cosmetology. Licenses are required in large part because many cosmetological practices involve the use of sharp objects, hot products and chemicals that necessitate the need for safety training.

Artificial fingernails applied by a cosmetologist.
Artificial fingernails applied by a cosmetologist.

A licensed cosmetologist usually goes to school in the region they intend to initially work in, as a result of licenses being very region-specific. If a licensed cosmetologist wishes to take their work to another region or country, they may have to undergo more training, not because they aren't proficient at their trade, but because licensure requirements change from region to region. There are some international cosmetology schools, however, which turn out licensed cosmetologists approved for work in multiple countries.

A licensed cosmetologist who specializes in hair will do more than just give haircuts.
A licensed cosmetologist who specializes in hair will do more than just give haircuts.

The average licensed cosmetologist is skilled in a number of beauty disciplines. Although most licenses approve work in the areas of hair, skin and nails, cosmetologists often concentrate their work efforts on one particular discipline. Others, however, establish themselves as capable of providing multiple services. It all depends on what a particular licensed cosmetologist believes will best suit their lifestyle and business.

A licensed cosmetologist who specializes in hair is responsible for a number of hair services. Hair stylists don't only cut hair, they style it with layering, coloring, and other conditioning and chemical hair treatments. Keeping up with trends, both older and emerging, requires constant practice and study. Some stylists also provide shampooing services. Hair stylists may also assist clients in need of toupees, wigs and extensions.

Licensed cosmetologists specializing in skin care are called aestheticians or skin care specialists. Skin care specialists provide a number of skin-related services, such as massaging, chemical peels, facials, microdermabrasion, and hair removal. They also use different products to help moisturize and treat skin specific to the client. Due to the chemical, and even electrical, elements involved in their work, skin care specialists typically undergo rigorous safety training before receiving licenses.

A licensed cosmetologist can also specialize in nail treatment. Nail technicians provide popular nail services, such as manicures and pedicures. Nail technicians provide artificial nail applications as well as natural nail maintenance, cuticle care, and help clients maintain healthy hands and feet.

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