Types of Cosmetologists

Strictly speaking, a ‘cosmetologist’ is a type of professional who is educated and experienced in caring for skin. This includes scalp and facial skin. Generally, however, cosmetology schools teach students the skills necessary to become a professional in any field related to cosmetology: barbering, styling, shampooing, cosmetics, manicures, pedicures, electrolysis, waxing, and a number of other specialties.

Students attending cosmetology or beauty school can major in a specific aspect of the cosmetology career genre or choose to become the type of cosmetologist who majors in general studies. Most cosmetology students become hair dressers or skin care specialists.

According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS), anyone graduating from a cosmetology school may be trained to perform the following tasks:

  • Inspect hair, face, and scalp, to recommend treatment
  • Discuss hairstyle options
  • Wash, color, and condition hair
  • Cut or trim, dry, and style hair
  • Receive payments from clients
  • Clean and sanitize all tools and work areas

Hairdressers and Hairstylists

Hairdressers are professional cosmetologists who specialize in all things related to hair and styling. Their job includes conditioning, hair treatments, coloring, haircuts, permanents, special event styling (proms or weddings, for example), and many other related services. They may also administer scalp treatments and coloring for eyebrows.


Barbers are a type of cosmetologist that primarily perform haircuts, shampoo, and styling for traditionally male hair styles. Individuals with a short hairstyle may visit a barbering specialist. Most barbers are also ‘hairstylists’, meaning they perform these services for all types of hair styles. Some barbers are specially trained in facial hair care, as well. (Such as beard trimming and shaving.)

Shampoo Specialists

A shampoo specialist is a person who primarily provides shampoo and conditioning services to clients prior to a haircut performed by a hairdresser or barber.

Manicurists and Pedicurists

These professionals are a type of cosmetologist that performs services on fingernails and toenails, as well as the surrounding cuticles and skin. They are typically trained in a cosmetology school, where they learn to condition, trim, file, paint, and treat natural nails and encourage the healthy growth of natural nails. They are also trained in the application and care of artificial nails; including acrylics, overlays, wraps, and plastic nail applications.


Electrology is a special type of cosmetology skill that involves the removal of hair. By using an electrical current, a professional can remove hair and cause permanent damage to the hair follicle, preventing new hair from growing in its place. This type of cosmetologist must undergo advanced training and testing in order to perform the service.

Esthetician (or Aesthetician)

An esthetician focuses on skin care. This includes moisturizing treatments and exfoliation with facial masks and other products. Skin massages, wax hair removal, eye brow and lash trimming in a salon setting are generally performed by a licensed esthetician. This is a type of cosmetologists who carries advanced training about skin types and skin composition to aid in healthy skin care for their clients. They are well-versed in skin conditions and skin treatments.