"Beauty school" redirects here. For the band, see Beauty School (band). For the song by Deftones, see Diamond Eyes.
"Coiffeur" redirects here. Coiffeur may also refer to Hairdresser.
Cosmetology class in California, 1946

Cosmetology (from Greek κοσμητικός, kosmētikos, "beautifying";[1] and -λογία, -logia) is the study and application of beauty treatment. Branches of specialty includes hairstyling, skin care, cosmetics, manicures/pedicures, non permanent hair removal such as waxing and sugaring and permanent hair removal processes such as electrology and Intense Pulsed Light (IPL).

Cosmetology specialties


A cosmetologist is defined as a person who gives beauty treatments to skin and hair etc.[2] Cosmetologists can be expanded into multiple fields including cutting and chemically treating hair, chemical hair removal without a sharp blade, fashion trends, wigs, nails and skin care, skin and hair analysis; relaxation techniques including head, neck, scalp, hand and feet basic massage and aroma therapies; plus ability to expertly apply makeup applications to cover or promote and can expand into further specialties such as reflexology; theatrical applications; cosmetics and others as listed below. A cosmetologist is someone who is an expert in the care of hair and makeup as well as skincare and beauty products. They can also offer other services such as coloring, extensions, perms and straightening. Cosmetologists help their clients improve on or acquire a certain look by applying advance trending aesthetic applications. Hair stylists often style hair for weddings, proms, and other special events in addition to routine hair styling.

Hair colorist

A hair color specialist, aka hair colorist, specializes in the modification of natural hair color utilizing various application methods while using a colorant product from a professional company. In the US, some colorists are qualified through the American Board of Certified Hair Colorists. This designation is used to recognize colorists that have a greater level of competency in the industry though a written exam and a practical exam. A hair color specialist’s duties might include, but are not limited to, basic color applications like covering grey and lightening or darkening natural hair color. A color specialist also has the ability to perform corrective color applications and create special effects using foiling techniques or any other advanced color application methods.

Shampoo technician

A shampoo technician shampoos and conditions a client's hair in preparation for the hair stylist. This is generally an apprentice position and a first step for many just out of cosmetology school.


Estheticians (sometimes referred to as Aestheticians) are licensed professionals who are experts in maintaining and improving healthy skin.[3] An esthetician's general scope of practice is limited to the epidermis (the outer layer of skin).[4] Estheticians work in many different environments such as salons, med spas, day spas, skin care clinics, and private practices. Estheticians may also specialize in treatments such as microdermabrasion, microcurrent (also known as non-surgical "face lifts"), cosmetic electrotherapy treatments (galvanic current, high frequency), LED (light emitting diode) treatments, ultrasound/ultrasonic (low level), and mechanical massage (vacuum and g8 vibratory).[5][6] The esthetician may undergo special training for treatments such as laser hair removal, permanent makeup application, light chemical peels, eyelash extensions, and electrology. In the US, estheticians must be licensed in the state in which they are working and are governed by the cosmetology board requirements of that state. Estheticians must complete a minimum 300–1500 hours of training and pass both a written and hands-on exam in order to be licensed in a given state.[7] Utah, Virginia and Washington are the only states at this time to adopt the Master Esthetician License.[8] Additional post graduate training is sometimes required when specializing in areas such as medical esthetics (working in a doctor's office). Estheticians work under a dermatologist’s supervision only when employed by the dermatologist's practice. Estheticians treat a wide variety of skin issues that are cosmetic in nature, such as mild acne, hyperpigmentation, and aging skin; therefore, clients with skin disease and disorders are referred to a dermatologist or other medical professional. The word esthetician is an alternative spelling of aesthetician, a derivation of the word aesthetic, "beauty-related".[9]

Occupational hazards

Many chemicals in salon products pose potential health risks. Examples of hazardous chemicals found in common treatments (e.g. hair coloring, straightening, perms, relaxers, keratin treatments, Brazilian Blowouts, and nail treatments) include dibutyl phthalate, formaldehyde, lye (sodium hydroxide), ammonia, and coal tar. Allergies and dermatitis have forced approximately 20% of hairdressers to stop practicing their profession.[10]

Chemical exposures

Dibutyl phthalate

Dibutyl phthalate (DBP) is used in some nail enamels and hardeners. DBP is a plasticizer that is used because of its flexibility and film forming properties, making it an ideal ingredient in nail polishes. When a polish is applied, it dries to the nail as some of the other chemicals volatilize. DBP is a chemical that remains on the nail, making the polish less brittle and apt to crack. The chemical may not only be absorbed through the nail, but through the skin as well. When nail-polished hands are washed, small amounts of DBP can leach out of the polish and come into contact with the skin. The application of nail polish can also provide an opportunity for skin absorption.[11]


Formaldehyde is a colorless, strong smelling liquid that is highly volatile, making exposure to both workers and clients potentially unhealthy. Both the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) classify formaldehyde as a human carcinogen. Formaldehyde has been linked to nasal and lung cancer, with possible links to brain cancer and leukemia.[12]

Growing evidence reveals that various popular hair-smoothing treatments contain formaldehyde and release formaldehyde as a gas. Four laboratories in California, Oregon, and Canada, confirmed a popular hair straightening treatment, the Brazilian Blowout, contained between 4% and 12% formaldehyde. Oregon OSHA demonstrated that other keratin-based hair smoothing products also contain formaldehyde, with concentrations from 1% to 7%.[13]

Salon worker exposure to formaldehyde and related health effects

Formaldehyde may be present in hair smoothing solutions or as a vapor in the air. Stylists and clients may inhale formaldehyde as a gas or a vapor into the lungs and respiratory tract. Formaldehyde vapor can also make contact with mucous membranes in the eyes, nose, or throat. Formaldehyde solutions may be absorbed through the skin during the application process of liquid hair straighteners. Solutions of formaldehyde can release formaldehyde gas at room temperature and heating such solutions can speed up this process. Exposure often occurs when heat is applied to the treatment, via blow drying and flat ironing.[13][14]

Stylists and clients have reported acute health problems while using or after using certain hair smoothing treatments containing formaldehyde. Reported problems include nose-bleeds, burning eyes and throat, skin irritation and asthma attacks. Other symptoms related to formaldehyde exposure include watery eyes; runny nose; burning sensation or irritation in the eyes, nose, and throat; dry and sore throat; respiratory tract irritation; coughing; chest pain; shortness of breath; wheezing; loss of sense of smell; headaches; and fatigue.[15]

OSHA requirements regarding formaldehyde

OSHA requires manufacturers, importers, and distributors to identify formaldehyde on any product that contains more than 0.1% formaldehyde (as a gas or in a solution), or if the product can release formaldehyde at concentrations greater than 0.1 parts per million (ppm). Safety data sheets (SDS) must also accompany the product and kept on premises with the product at all times. The SDS must explain why a chemical in the product is hazardous, how it is harmful, how workers can protect themselves, and what they should do in an emergency.[16]

Salon owners and stylists are advised to look closely at the hair smoothing products they use (read product labels and SDS sheets) to see if they contain methylene glycol, formalin, methylene oxide, paraform, formic aldehyde, methanal, oxomethane, oxymethylene, or CAS Number 50-00-0. According to OSHA's Formaldehyde standard, a product containing any of these names should be treated as a product containing formaldehyde. OSHA’s Hazard Communication standard (Right to Know) states that salon owners and other employers' must have a SDS for products containing hazardous chemicals. If salon owners or other employers decide to use products that contain or release formaldehyde they are required to follow the guidelines in OSHA’s Formaldehyde standard.[16]

Cosmetology careers

In the United States, whether planning to study cosmetology or specialize in a specific area, each state has different requirements that must be fulfilled before obtaining a license.

For example, the State of Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulations requires each candidate to complete their hours through a licensed cosmetology school program where new skills are taught and learned such as hair coloring, styling, hair cutting and the usage of hazardous chemicals. After completing the minimum hours to obtain a state license, an online examination is required and is submitted via mail with other supported documentation.[17] Bureau of Labor Statics states that the median salary for a liscened cosmetologist is $28,770 as of May 2015.[18] Illinois Metropolitan Division Areas, Chicago-Naperville-Arlington Heights has one of the highest employment rates with an annual rate of $27,750.[18] Being a licensed cosmetologist opens the door in becoming self-employed and working at High-End Salons such as Anthony Cristiano, Studio 110, Michael and Michael, and Mario Tricoci. As a licensed cosmetologist each has the option to choose which salon fits best to work in but a self-employed salon will bring more income as long as having the right business plan for it to succeed.Each candidate registering for a salon has to obtain a certificate of registration and present all required paper work with the FEIN,Federal employer identification number to Illinois Department of Labor.[17]

Notable cosmetologists


  1. "Cosmetic - Definition of cosmetic by Merriam-Webster". Retrieved 30 June 2015.
  2. "Definition of COSMETOLOGIST". Retrieved 2016-04-28.
  3. Schmaling, Susanne (2011). Miladys Aesthetician Series: Aging Skin. Clifton Park NY: Cengage Publishing. p. 4. ISBN 978-1-4354-9614-9.
  4. Milady Standards Fundamentals Esthetics
  5. Milady Standard Advanced Esthetics
  6. Professional BeautyTherapy 3rd Edition
  7. "About Membership". Retrieved 30 June 2015.
  8. "Washington State's New Licensing Law for Estheticians". Skin Inc. Retrieved 30 June 2015.
  9. "Aesthetic - Definition of aesthetic by Merriam-Webster". Retrieved 30 June 2015.
  10. Reducing chemical exposure is a continual career investment
  11. Environmental Working Group - Does a common chemical in nail polish pose risks to human health?
  12. United States Department of Labor – Safety and Health Topics – Formaldehyde
  13. 1 2 California Department of Public Health – Q&A: Brazilian Blowout and other hair smoothing salon treatments
  14. Oregon OSHA – Hazard Alert – Hair smooth products and formaldehyde
  15. Oregon OSHA and CROET - “Keratin-Based” Hair Smoothing Products And the Presence of Formaldehyde Archived November 22, 2010, at the Wayback Machine.
  16. 1 2 United States Department of Labor – Hazard Alert - Hair Smoothing Products That Could Release Formaldehyde
  17. 1 2 "State of Illinois | Department of Financial & Professional Regulation". Retrieved 2016-07-27.
  18. 1 2 "Hairdressers, Hairstylists, and Cosmetologists". Retrieved 2016-08-01.

External links

Look up cosmetology or coiffeur in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.
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