How to Become a Nurse Esthetician

Nurse estheticians are vital members of many medical or salon and spa teams. They provide services most other esthetics professionals can't, allowing their employers to promote their facilities in unique ways.

If you're a nurse who wants to specialize in this field or an esthetician hoping to advance your career, this guide is here to help you find your path.

What Is a Nurse Esthetician?

A nurse esthetician is a registered nurse who performs advanced, non-surgical cosmetic procedures. Because of their medical background, a nurse esthetician has skills and competencies beyond those of a traditional esthetician. They may also be called esthetic nurses, aesthetic nurses, or cosmetic nurses.

A nurse esthetician isn't required to have an esthetician license.

What Does a Nurse Esthetician Do?

Nurse estheticians perform a wide range of cosmetic treatments for skin. These treatments may include Botox, dermal fillers, microdermabrasion, tattoo removal, laser treatments, and more.

Additionally, nurse estheticians address the psychological aspects of skin health and appearance and provide education to help clients address any challenges.

Importantly, nurse estheticians often work with doctors who treat patients who have gone through traumatic physical experiences, like burns or cancer treatments. They can help these patients learn to care for their skin's new needs, both in terms of health and beauty. Not only can they help patients stay healthy physically, but they can also help them on the path to becoming confident in their appearances again.

Nurse estheticians may work with patients in a clinic or with clients in a salon or spa. Some nurse estheticians may choose to work as independent contractors, seeing patients in a setting they determine.

How Is a Nurse Esthetician Different from an Esthetician?

The most basic difference between estheticians and nurse estheticians is education. Nurse estheticians need formal medical training, such as an ADN or BSN. Your training and education in nursing provide a foundation in the fields of anatomy, physiology, biology, mental health, nursing practice, and pharmacology, as well as in clinical experience.

Estheticians are licensed to work on the skin, performing skin care services such as massage, skin conditioning, superficial chemical peels, body treatments, and hair removal. Nurse estheticians are medical professionals who may perform many of the same tasks as estheticians but have additional training to perform specialized treatments and work in medical facilities.

READ MORE: Esthetician school and student resources

How Is a Nurse Esthetician Different from a Medical Esthetician?

Nurse estheticians are registered nurses (RNs) who perform esthetic services. Some employers may hire LPNs or LVNs as nurse estheticians, but RNs are generally preferred. Meanwhile, medical estheticians, like standard estheticians, have an esthetics license but don't have a nursing degree.

A medical esthetician, also called a paramedical esthetician, can perform near-medical skin services in a clinical or salon setting. They have some basic medical training, perform non-invasive procedures and are bound by state licensing laws.

The biggest question people considering medical esthetician vs. nurse esthetician careers often ask is: Can estheticians perform Botox? Botox can only be done by licensed medical professionals, like doctors, nurses, dentists, physician assistants, and nurse estheticians. Medical estheticians don't fall into this category, so they may not provide Botox treatments. The types and levels of medical training you need to perform Botox procedures vary by state, so check with your state’s medical board.

Steps to Becoming a Nurse Esthetician

  1. Obtain your two-year Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) or four-year Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). A bachelor’s is preferred by many top employers hiring RNs.
  2. Take and pass the NCLEX-RN exam to become licensed in your state.
  3. Work in the nursing field to gain experience. Those who wish to undertake the next step of certification need at least 1,000 hours of practice within the core specialties over the previous two years. You may wish to work in a position related to your interest in esthetics. This could include dermatology, plastic surgery, oncology, mental health, or trauma wards.
  4. Although there is no required certification to work as a nurse in the field of esthetics, registered nurses may choose to obtain a Certified Aesthetic Nurse Specialist (CANS) certification through the Plastic Surgical Nursing Certification Board (PSNCB). This certification requires renewal every three years.

Remember, you aren't required to go to esthetician school and get an esthetician license along with earning your nursing degree to become a nurse esthetician. However, becoming a nurse esthetician is not an uncommon path for experienced estheticians and other beauty professionals to take by going back to nursing school. The opposite is also true, with people often transitioning from nursing to beauty.

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