Understanding Post-Graduate Aesthetic Education

Written by Denise Gaston

Have you ever taken a moment to digest all that you learned in aesthetic school – the myriad of chapters, the review questions, the workbook, and all the extra credit assignments that go along with it? And, yet, it is important to ask yourself this question, “have I learned everything?” The correct answer is a resounding “no,” of course.

Let’s take a look at the classic curriculum as it is presented at most aesthetic schools. Your instructors want you to learn the basics before heading on to more complex subjects, techniques, machines, and the like. Their purpose is to make sure you can service a client while keeping client safety in mind and practicing infection control and proper sanitation. “The basics” include learning a classic facial massage, how to perform a basic facial, full body waxing, the art of makeup, how to sanitize and disinfect properly, what to do in case of blood exposure, how to handle a client who may react to an ingredient, the differences and nuances of the five skin types, how to address common skin conditions, and how to retail effectively to ensure you are sending your clients home with products that will complement what you have done in the treatment room. In a nutshell, aesthetic school prepares you for what comes next.

The bigger question is, “what is the difference between what I’ve learned already and continuing education classes versus advanced education classes?”  Put simply, each has its place in your career and you will more than likely take advantage of each of them as you grow in the industry. For those who live in a state where you are required to get a specific number or Continuing Education Units (CEUs), you will be required to seek out approved providers in your state who offer classes that satisfy the requirements to renew your professional license. Yes, you will have to pay for these classes, but the good news is that you may be able to take advantage of these classes at one of the many industry tradeshows; this way, you earn your CEUs along with attending the show, a true win-win situation.

The upside to living in a state that requires CEUs is that it will keep you learning. As the saying goes, “learners are earners.”

What about advanced classes? If you happen to live in a state where CEUs aren’t required, that does not mean that once you get your license that is it. You must be self-motivated, driven, and have a passion for the craft. You have to say to yourself that you are going to take advantage of every possible opportunity you have to advance your knowledge and education. There are nearly as many advanced classes as there are product lines, so it is up to you to find them. A good place to start would be on social media, professional skin care companies’ websites, and, of course, via other aestheticians.

You will have to fork over some cash to sit under the tutelage of those who have paid to become experts in their field and are now sharing their knowledge, wisdom, and time so you can learn what they already know. I like to tell students “get over it.” You are investing in yourself and that is the best investment you can make. In our industry, knowledge is power and the more you know, the more you grow. A professional will create value when they decide that they must take their career to the next level by learning more. Not only does this create value, it also shows your community, employer, clients, family, and friends that you are in this for the long haul and it is not a phase that you’ll grow out of. It all begins with taking what you learned in aesthetic school seriously and thoroughly understanding that having your license does not mean you know it all. On the contrary, your professional license grants you the privilege to go out and learn more – much more – whether by way of continuing education mandated by your state licensing authority or by advanced classes being offered by seasoned professionals, tradeshows, skin care companies, equipment companies, aesthetic schools who offer extra classes on the days they are closed, or online classes.

Now that you have a better understanding of the differences, go out there a find a class or two – maybe three. You will never regret it.

Denise Gaston 2019Denise Gaston is a proud CIDESCO diplomat, licensed aesthetician since 1989, certified clinical aesthetician, and is NCEA certified. Gaston has served as the northern California trainer for Repêchage Skincare and as an aesthetics instructor for Miss Marty’s Hair Academy and C.I.D.E.S.C.O. Institute. She is a former spa owner, having had a private practice for 10 years. Gaston is currently the vice president and director of aesthetics at Fremont Beauty College. She is a reviewer for Milady’s Standard Cosmetology Textbook 2008 Edition; Milady Standard Esthetics: Fundamentals, 11th Edition; and Milady Standard Esthetics: Advanced, 2nd Edition. Gaston also serves as a subject matter expert for the California State Board of Barbering and Cosmetology.

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