How Long is Skin Care School?

Woman at a skin care school

Interested in learning more about becoming a skin care specialist? Did you know that you can graduate with a degree in Esthiology in five months? If you attend full-time, you can be working in months, rather than years. What skin care school should you choose and what are the benefits of becoming a skin care specialist? These are all important questions to ask and we will try to answer them below.

Choosing a Skin Care School

Before enrolling in a skin care school, ensure the program suits your career goals and lifestyle. Attending skin care school is a big commitment. The right school or program is accredited to ensure it meets the requirements for licensure.

Online student testimonials also help when determining if a program suits you. See first-hand from actual attendees, and what graduates think whether the program’s reputation holds up. Visit the school in-person or sign up for a counseling session before enrollment. These are all great ways to help you choose a skin care school.

Benefits of Becoming a Skin Care Specialist

There are many benefits to becoming a skin care specialist. Having the opportunity to work with regulars helps to build lasting relationships and trust. Skin care specialists also help clients feel better, look their best, and build their confidence. Another benefit of this career path, is that it affords flexible hours since you typically work by appointment. From salons to doctor’s offices, skin care specialists have many diverse careers available in an upwardly mobile growing industry.

What Do You Learn in Skin Care School?

Skin care specialists typically enroll in a certificate or diploma program that requires less than a year to complete. The school prepares you for the required state licensing exam and eventual employment as a skin care specialist in salons, spas, dermatology clinics, and resorts. The number of training hours and licensing requirements vary by state. However, Esthiology programs must include hands-on experience utilizing mannequins, live models, or a combination of the two. Some of the courses you will take at a skin care school include:

Skin Care

Skin care classes teach common skin conditions and how to recommend routines or treatments. A combination of classroom, laboratory, and hands-on practice prepares you for performing spa treatments, including body wraps, scrubs, and massages. You will learn to use lighted mirrors, magnification tools, lotions, astringents, and other topical applications.

Anatomy and Physiology

These classes teach basic human anatomy and the skin’s physiology, including the circulatory, endocrine, respiratory, digestive, and muscular system’s functions. This course also focuses on the conditions and common disorders of the skin.

Makeup Application

You will explore color theory, identify skin types, and perform makeup applications, including how to properly apply concealer, foundation, blush, lip liner, lipstick, eye shadow, and eyeliner in a hands-on setting. Coursework also teaches the application of eyelash extensions.

Hair Removal

The temporary removal of facial or body hair commonly accompanies skincare treatments. A hair removal class teaches you hair removal techniques like wax, depilatory cream, and tweezing on the face, arms, underarm, legs, back, and bikini areas. You will replicate classroom demonstrations in labs and clinical practice.

Sanitation and Sterilization

In this course, students learn how to protect clients and meet state requirements regarding decontamination and infection control, including proper workstation sanitation and tool sterilization.

Salon Management

Salon Management class is usually one of the last Esthiology courses in a diploma program. It emphasizes sales, marketing, professional ethics, communication skills, building client relationships, and developing professional interpersonal skills. You will learn salon management as well as merchandising and selling retail products.

The Skin’s Layers

When you embark on your journey to become a skin care specialist, you will become familiar with the skin and all its layers. There are seven layers to the skin in all. The skin is the body’s largest organ, which maintains body temperature, prevents water loss, and serves as the initial line of defense against germs, UV light, chemicals, and injury. The first five layers together form a thick outer protective layer of the skin called the epidermis:

Layer #1: Stratum corneum – This layer is made of keratin and is the skin’s topmost layer. The stratum corneum’s thickness is different depending on its body location.

Layer #2: Stratum lucidum – This thin transparent layer is only present in the palms and sole’s thicker skin.

Layer #3: Stratum granulosum – The stratum granulosum secretes a chemical called glycolipids, which keeps the skin cells glued to each other.

Layer #4: Stratum spinosum – This layer, also known as the prickle cell layer, contains antigen-presenting dendritic cells that possess the ability to stimulate naïve T cells.

Layer #5: Stratum basale – also known as the stratum germinativum, this is the epidermis’s deepest layer. In this layer, the cells continuously produce keratinocytes, which play an essential role in making Vitamin D when exposed to sunlight. Keratinocytes also produce protein, keratin, and lipids, which contain protective properties. The stratum basale layer also contains melanocytes that produce melanin, a natural pigment responsible for skin color.

Layer #6: Dermis – The dermis is connected to the epidermis and made from collagen, which gives skin its flexibility and strength. This layer houses sweat glands, oil or sebaceous glands, hair follicles, muscles, nerve endings, blood vessels, and other dendritic cells.

Layer #7: Hypodermis – The hypodermis, known as the deepest skin layer, is also referred to as the subcutaneous fascia or subcutaneous layer and sits just below the dermis.

Varying Skin Thicknesses

All over the body, thickness of the skin varies significantly depending on its location. The palms of the hands and soles of the feet have the thickest degree of skin, vital to protection, as the epidermis contains an extra layer called the stratum lucidum, absent in other regions. The thinnest (0.05 mm thick) skin’s location is over the eyelids and behind the ears. Skin thickness differs among sexes, with males bearing the thicker skin due to testosterone stimulation. Age also determines the thickness of the skin with children and the extreme elderly having the thinnest.

Types of Skin

Each skin type contains a distinct set of characteristics and requires individual care. Skin gets classified by factors including hydration, sebaceous secretion, and sensitivity. Although changes in the skin occur with time, health, diet, genetics and weather also helps determine skin type. The five skin types you should know as a skin care specialist include:

Type #1: Normal Skin – The normal type displays a radiant complexion, very few imperfections, barely visible pores, and no severe sensitivity. A normal skin type shows a rosy glow, smooth texture, good elasticity, and no blemishes, flaky areas, or greasy patches.

Type #2: Sensitive Skin – easily irritated and more reactive than the normal skin type. This skin type’s appearance often presents itself as delicate, fragile, and red, accompanied by feelings of discomfort, tightness, or itching. Sensitive skin loses its protective function, creating a breeding ground for microorganisms, increasing the possibility of having an allergic reaction or infection.

Type #3: Dry Skin – In many cases, dry skin is caused by external factors like weather, low air humidity, or hot water, and is typically temporary. However, some people experience an extremely dry skin type condition or may have drier skin as a lifelong problem. This skin type is generally characterized by a tight, rough, itchy feel accompanied by an ashy gray color and small cracks.

Type #4: Oily Skin – has a perpetual shiny or greasy appearance. Oil becomes excessive because of an overproduction of sebum by sebaceous glands, usually determined by genetics. However, hormones play a big role in young people under 30 years old and are typically related to acne.

Type #5: Combination Skin – presents the characteristics of dry and oily skin. The oily area is on the forehead, nose, and chin, also known as the T-zone. In contrast, the cheeks remain in the normal to dry range.

Common Conditions of The Skin

Millions of Americans have common but severe skin disorders or conditions that require immediate attention. As a skin care specialist, you need to know how to identify any client’s skin changes that indicate common skin issues. Here are some common skin problems:


The most common skin problem in the United States is acne. This skin condition often appears on the neck, face, chest, shoulders, and upper back. Breakouts occur due to clogged pores from excess sebum and dead skin. Acne typically makes its debut during puberty and can last well into middle age.

Cold Sores

Many people between the ages of 14 and 49 carry the contagious herpes simplex virus, or HSV, the most common cold sore. Cold sores look like blisters on the lip or mouth, are not severe, and clear up within a few weeks. Carriers should avoid close contact with others during a cold sore breakout.


Rosacea is a disorder that starts with a tendency to blush or flush easily. Redness, dryness, sensitivity, and red bumps typically spread beyond the nose and cheek area to the chin, ears, forehead, chest, and back.


Eczema is typically long-lasting and characterized by dry, scaly patches on the skin. This skin condition, often appearing on the scalp, forehead, face, cheeks, and hands, is more common among children. Care for eczema consists of creams and antihistamines to relieve itchiness.


The most common of the psoriasis conditions is plaque psoriasis. Psoriasis causes the body to generate new skin cells within days that pile on the skin’s surface and create scaly patches. Plaques most often appear on the elbows, lower back, knees, and scalp.

Final Thoughts

A doctor can’t diagnose illness without an examination, and skin care specialists can’t get to the bottom of ailing skin without a complete skin analysis. It’s an essential skill for a successful practice. Now that you know how long it takes to graduate from skin care school, are you ready to learn more?

If you have a passion for performing skin analysis and improving skin health, you could begin your career as a skin care specialist at the Minnesota School of Cosmetology (MSC).  Our Esthiology Diploma Program is designed to be completed in under 5 months (600 clock hours) with full-time enrollment.  Our esthiology diploma program has been developed by talented, caring, real-world professionals, many of whom still work in the field.  We give our Esthiology students experience in skincare, waxing, make-up, application of facials, and more.

Contact us today to learn more about becoming a skin care specialist and starting a rewarding career in the beauty industry.

*Completion time for this program is defined by 35 hours per week.

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