Why Do Estheticians Do Skin Analysis?

Esthetician performing a skin analysis on a client

Skin is an esthetician’s canvas. Like artists, they need to understand their medium type, texture and characteristics to perform skin analysis. If coaxing the beauty out of any skin is an esthetician’s goal, then skin analysis is the key to creating a masterpiece.

What is Skin Analysis?

Skin analysis is the process of identifying a client’s skin type, advantages and flaws, so you can recommend the best treatments. You will take a medical history, understand what the client is doing for their current skin regimen and identify goals to improve their skin.

How Does an Esthetician Perform a Skin Analysis?

The skin analysis begins when a client walks through the door with a visual appraisal of their appearance, evaluating their cosmetics, and looking for clues about lifestyle habits that affect their complexion. An ivory-skinned client not wearing a wide-brimmed hat on a bright day may need to learn more about sun damage. Clients with acne wearing thick, oily foundation might benefit from lighter options. Experienced estheticians glean a lot from just a look.

The second stage of a skin analysis is typically a questionnaire. The goal is to learn about your client’s daily habits, their concerns and their skincare products. You’ll review each point together after. Topics may include:

General Health

Skin is the body’s largest organ, so if your client is unhealthy, it shows. Learning more about a client’s well-being gives you a good sense of how receptive they are to making lifestyle changes that would benefit their appearance.


Smoking starves skin of oxygen, accelerating its aging process and contributing to wrinkles. It can also yellow the skin, making it leathery and causing age spots.


You are what you eat. While much of skin’s quality is genetic, a diet rich in fruits and vegetables supports elasticity. Diets lacking in essential nutrients are often inflammatory and lead to redness or dryness.

Medical Conditions

Medical conditions can directly impact skin’s health. People with diabetes, for example, suffer from glycation, a process that impairs circulation and cellular regeneration. This can also make someone more susceptible to infection, so treatment precautions are a must.


Allergies are a common cause of redness and rashes. It’s also critical for you to know if your client has allergies, especially to sunscreen or other ingredients in skincare products.


Dozens of medications can exacerbate sun damage. Others may react with ingredients in skincare products. Estheticians need the full picture before they choose what to apply.

Hours Spent Outdoors

The amount of time your client spends outdoors can cause wrinkles. Knowing the reason behind why a client has wrinkles or other signs of again will change how you treat the issue. You should always take into account whether your client has leathery skin because of smoking or long-term exposure from working outside as this will affect treatment choice.

Skincare Routine

Using the wrong cleansers, scrubs and moisturizers for your skin type, or using the right products at the wrong consistency, can be irritating. Knowing what products clients use regularly helps you determine if they’re to blame for redness and what changes to recommend. It also offers insight into what types of treatments are a good fit for someone’s lifestyle.

The final step in skin analysis for an esthetician is a close-up examination. Technology is evolving, and today’s skincare specialists can choose from a wide range of equipment to refine their exam, from devices that measure sebum to 3D facial analyzers. But an esthetician’s primary tools remain touch, assessing texture with your fingers helps find subtle irregularities.

Magnifying lamps can make it easy to see the smallest irregularities that you might be feeling on a client’s skin. Equipped with cool bulbs that don’t distort skin tone, these lamps come in several configurations from stationary floor models to wheeled styles maneuverable around chairs during an examination. Some come with storage and vaporizers to make easy work of cleaning the client’s face.

What Does an Esthetician Look for During a Skin Analysis?

Skin rarely fits neatly into one category, but characteristics like skin type, texture, redness, rashes and clogged pores help guide treatment choices.

Skin Type

Skin type is genetic, but environmental factors can influence it. The four basic categories include normal, dry, oily and combination skin.

Normal – this skin is well-balanced, moisture and oil production are average, pores are refined, circulation is optimal, and blemishes are rare. Treatments are preventative, emphasizing products and lifestyle changes that prevent premature aging and enhance the look and feel of skin.

Dry – skin that is a frequent complaint. A result of genetic and environmental factors from pollution to extreme weather, dry skin lacks natural moisture and produces less protective sebum. Prone to redness from UV rays, a dry complexion looks dull and is less resilient. Fine wrinkles are exaggerated, and skin texture looks rough, leaving clients with fast-aging skin. Treatments focus on restoring the balance of moisture without causing greasy skin.

Oily – overactive sebaceous glands cause oily complexions. Called seborrhea, it leaves clients vulnerable to blemishes, including acne. It has a greasy feel and a shiny look over the forehead, chin and nose. Like dry skin, oiliness is influenced by genetics, but stress, hormonal changes and diet play a role. Treatments should reduce redness and irritation.

Combination Skin – the most common type of skin and requires special consideration. A blend of oily and dry areas, combination skin is characterized by excessive sebum in the T-zone, the forehead nose and chin while cheeks tend to be dry. Pores are often large and visible. Treatments are geared toward reducing pore size and balancing the look of dry and oily areas. It demands an individualized approach.

Some estheticians also consider sensitive skin, skin prone to inflammation, a distinct type. It requires careful handling and the mildest products.

Fitzpatrick Skin Type

The Fitzpatrick skin scale classifies skin’s sensitivity to sunlight based on someone’s genetic characteristics, according to DermNet NZ. It helps estheticians identify which clients are at the highest risk for sun damage to recommend products with the right SPF level.  There are six categories, differentiated by these genetic characteristics:

Type 1 — blonde or red hair, green or blue eyes, pale or freckled white skin that burns without tanning

Type 2 — blue eyes, pale complexion, burns easily, rarely tans

Type 3 — fair skin with brown eyes and brown hair, burns first and then tans

Type 4 — light brown skin, dark eyes, dark hair, skins burns first but tans readily

Type 5 — brown skin, eyes and hair, rarely burns, tans quickly

Type 6 — dark brown skin, hair and eyes, never burns, tan only deepens


Texture refers to the skin’s surface condition. Healthy skin texture is soft, elastic and feels tight under your fingers. Coarse skin feels less firm and is usually uneven due to dryness or rashes.

Feeling for texture is important because the epidermis can look smooth but have enough subtle imperfections to affect how it scatters light and dims the complexion’s luminosity.


Redness is a symptom of inflammation. Clients with chronic skin conditions that cause it, such as rosacea, may consult estheticians to lessen its effects. It can also be a clue to sensitivity and will help guide treatment choices.


Rashes can be reactive, an inflammatory response to environmental factors like air pollution. Or they can be symptoms of underlying conditions that require medical treatment.

Clogged Pores

Clogged pores are caused by a combination of excess sebum, dirt and dead epidermal cells. When darkened by oxidation, they’re called blackheads. If bacteria get trapped inside, and they get infected, pus forms and creates a whitehead. Each requires a different type of treatment, followed by a maintenance regimen that minimizes pore size and reduces surface sebum.

What is the Goal of a Skin Analysis?

The goal of skin analysis is to collect the information you need to improve the client’s appearance. The more you know, the better equipped you are to make recommendations.

How Does Someone Become an Esthetician?

Almost every state awards a license to estheticians. Most require a diploma or certificate in cosmetology or esthetics, but the number of mandatory credit hours varies. Some programs offer more training than others at a higher cost, but it’s only a good value if it applies to your career plans.

There are two types of esthetics practices to choose from, spa and medical. A spa esthetician offers services that promote relaxation while enhancing personal appearance. For example, combining a face and scalp massage with a detoxifying peel and cosmetic application for a special event. Medical estheticians work with physicians, such as dermatologists or cosmetic surgeons, complementing their work. For example, teaching corrective skincare and cosmetic techniques to patients with facial scars.

Both types of esthetician might want additional training. Spa estheticians often branch out into massage while medical estheticians might want additional training in microdermabrasion or electrolysis. Either way, getting a vocational school diploma is the fastest way to get out of the classroom and earning a paycheck. In only 5 months, you could be gaining practical experience while discovering where you want your career to go.

Final Thoughts

A doctor can’t diagnose illness without an examination, and estheticians can’t get the bottom of ailing skin without a complete skin analysis. It’s an essential skill for a successful practice.

If you have a passion for performing skin analysis and improving skin health, you could begin your career as an esthetician 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 an esthetician 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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