Cosmetology or Esthetics – Which is the Right Education for Your Eyelash Extensions Career?

Are you looking to become a beauty industry professional? Do you want to make your clients look amazing with luscious eyelash extensions? If you’re considering your education options, this article is for you!

Our Professional Lash and Brow Artists’ Industry Survey 2016 results show us that 74% of those who responded are licensed beauty industry professionals. 25% are Cosmetologists, 41% are Estheticians and 8% hold both qualifications. 26% of those who responded were not licensed.

There are certain areas that do not require any formal licensing to perform lash extension services. Our friends in Canada do not need to be licensed, and other countries around the globe have similar rules. In the U.S. most states require some sort of licensing and in order to obtain a license you must first get an education. You might be wondering what type of education you should pursue. On that note, let’s explore two types of beauty education – cosmetology and esthetics.

Cosmetologist Vs Esthetician Graph

Source: 2016 Professional Lash & Brows Artists’ Industry Survey.

A Career in Cosmetology

Maybe you are trying to decide how much time to invest in your education and don’t know where to start. As someone who has been to cosmetology school I have a few insights to share. So let’s dig into this and figure out if a cosmetology career is the right fit for you.

When making the decision about my own beauty education, it was an easy choice. I was always interested in hair but I also had a fascination with makeup, lashes, brows, nails and basically everything beauty. I wanted to be able to perform any service under the beauty umbrella, so I signed up for a course in cosmetology.

Once you complete your cosmetology course, you have so many options. You can move freely between services as needed. It’s a one stop for your clients if you are able to do everything. But you can also pick and choose the areas you enjoy the most and leave out those you don’t. Working as a qualified beauty professional, it wasn’t long before I discovered a few things that didn’t exactly thrill me –  mainly waxing. The messiness of waxing wasn’t for me and I found myself limiting my waxing services to the neck up. This cut back the amount of waxing I had to do on any given day.

Eyebrow services are another area that you might like to specialise in as a cosmetologist. I truly envy those salon professionals who are so meticulous at planning, strategizing and creating that flawless face framing brow. Brows require precision, perfect balance and a keen eye for the exact shape.

Whilst brows rely on technique, nails call for a little more creativity. I was surprised by my attraction to nails and really dove in full steam. Doing the same haircuts and color over and over got a bit boring for me so I became involved in the nail side of the business. I quickly realised just how much clients were into their fortnightly manicure. I had a lot of fun and particularly enjoyed the ease of the service. Unlike hair, if you mess up a nail you can just start over, which means you get to skip all the tears and trauma.

After several years of hair and nails, I became involved in skincare. Again I was surprised by how much I loved performing facials, body treatments and all things skin related. I even completed a Cosmetology Instructors Program and became a cosmetology instructor in Arizona. Now, going that far may not be for you, but I am all about education. As a cosmetologist I’ve been able to experience all that the salon industry has to offer.

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Specialising in Esthetics 

If hair and nails aren’t your thing, then you may find you prefer the slower pace of esthetics. It is more of a warm and nurturing experience. Whilst we can inflict a little discomfort when applying intensive skin treatments, on the whole, the aim is to get our clients as relaxed as possible before they are steamed, creamed and massaged all the way to heaven.

Esthetics is a much shorter program, with very specific protocols and treatments. Estheticians in most localities are restricted to the following; the removal of hair, by waxing or tweezing; performing facial services, with or without the use of machines; makeup and eyelash extension services. Some states also have a license just for lash artists, which may be a good fit for those who are not interested in any other aspect of the beauty industry. 

If you love using machines, like galvanic current, micro-current, microdermabrasion and ultrasonic or any other equipment, then esthetics is certainly the area of specialisation for you. In Cosmetology, you spend a very brief time on these subjects but not enough to become proficient. So, if you have no interest in hair and nails and prefer skincare, then the shorter esthetics course is absolutely the way to go. 

Making the Right Choice

However, you must be certain that esthetics is for you because it is hard to drop everything and go back to school if you change your mind later on. Unfortunately, most states will not give you any credit for the schooling you did in esthetics to go toward a full cosmetology license. Those hours will be lost. A full cosmetology course does take almost double the hours to start with, but you will never have to retrain to perform these services.

Under the Cosmetology umbrella you are already licensed to perform all services. You can always take additional training (like the Gladlash Training Academy) to upgrade your skills and even if you have to practice this skill for a time before you become proficient, you won’t have to spend 600-800 hours going back for a different license.

In all courses, you will learn about diseases and disorders of the hair and skin. Nails will be covered in manicuring or cosmetology. You will learn about bacteriology, sanitation and sterilization as well as chemicals and chemical compounds and how to use them safely. Many people don’t realize the extensive training beauticians undergo to keep the community safe from disease and cross contamination.

Cosmetology Vs Esthetics

So, before you decide which way to go, ask yourself a few questions.

  1. How serious are you? 1200 to 2000 hours of serious for Cosmetology? 600-800 for Esthetics?
  2. What is your interest level in hair, nails and skin care?
  3. Is there any service that you just won’t want to do? Like I said, waxing is not my forte but other people shudder at the idea of giving a pedicure. The smell of a perm solution can be off putting for some.

You should take your time and check out a few reputable schools by observing the classes, educators and curriculum for a few hours before you commit. Be an informed consumer before you choose a program.

Once you’ve decided, make sure you jump in and do it. Beauty changes lives – for customers and industry professionals alike.


Maryann Matykowski

Maryann has an accomplished, 30+ year background in the beauty industry. As a cosmetologist she opened her first salon in ’83. Maryann has specialized as an educator since 2006, and is now Master Trainer/Training and Education Coordinator here at Glad Lash Academy. Maryann knows what it takes to create successful salon businesses and is here to share her experience with you.

Disclaimer! Opinions expressed on the Glad Lash Blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Glad Lash Inc. Content is provided for informational purposes only and should not be considered professional advice. You should always seek professional advice before making decisions that could affect your business or clients.

11 thoughts on “Cosmetology or Esthetics – Which is the Right Education for Your Eyelash Extensions Career?”

  1. Shari says:

    i just love you Mary Ann! i look forward to your blogs!!

  2. V.G. says:

    Great info. Thank you!!!

  3. Ben says:

    Cosmetology course is best and having very huge scope, thanks for the information. Nice blog!

  4. cheaplash says:

    Nice info. in this time any opportunity in cosmetic field

  5. Ashta India says:

    Wow, thanks for this super-detailed post

  6. Sabrina says:

    Amazing work. This is something really helpful. Thanks for sharing in such detailed manner.

    1. Maryann Matykowski says:

      Hi Sabrina,

      I’m glad it helped, you’re very welcome. Thanks for reading!

  7. Ville A says:

    Hi Maryann,
    My mother has worked withing the beauty field through whole of her life and now my sister is considering moving in to the business as well. I wonder if there is a possibility for her to be trained by our mother for the license? This would make everyone’s live so much easier.

    1. Maryann Matykowski says:

      Hello Ville,

      It’s great, keeping it all in the family! Every State has different requirements. My State allows an apprentice program. Check with your governing body for Cosmetology or Esthetics and see if your state allows this. It’s a good way to get the training in. Best of luck.

  8. Sylvia Ballard says:

    Hi Maryann,
    Thank you for the information. My State does not require a license to become an Eyelash Technician. Do school require license before you can attend training? I am co-owner of a barbershop and work with a licensed Master Barber. We would like to introduce eyelash services to bring in more female clients.

    1. Maryann Matykowski says:

      Hi Sylvia,

      If your State does not require a license, then you can get trained to become a Lash Artist. May I suggest that you go to the Artist Directory by GladGirl and look for a local Trainer. We have amazing and very talented Trainers ready to get you going! Best of Luck on your journey.

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