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Become an Acne Specialist

By: Laura Cooksey
Posted: January 31, 2013, from the February 2013 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.
inflammed acne

It took four months to clear this client’s inflammed acne and pigmentation, using a combination of mandelic serum, vitamin A proprionate serum and benzoyl peroxide.

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Most esthetician training focuses on spa and anti-aging treatments. Very few, if any, cosmetology schools sufficiently address acne concerns. To learn more about this aspect of esthetics, search for training that will give you the tools you need to get results with your acne clients. As an acne specialist, you will be able to do the following.

  • Recognize the grade of acne you are seeing, and have the ability to discern what is not acne, such as folliculitis, staph infections and/or steatocystoma multiplex.
  • Understand the properties of the active ingredients you are utilizing and discern which ingredients to use for each acne and skin type.
  • Become familiar with comedogenic ingredients.
  • Develop a sound protocol of home care for acne clients, starting slowly and adjusting as the skin becomes accustomed to product use.
  • Know which type of treatment to provide for clients’ acne type and skin condition, and know how to do proper extractions during these treatments.
  • Have a working knowledge of what exacerbates acne and how lifestyle changes will help the acne client.
  • Understand what to do when an acne client’s progress stalls.
  • Track your client’s progress and know how to handle client compliance issues.

Many skin care professionals are seeking specialized training in order to help their acne clients. Online groups such as “Acne Specialists” on LinkedIn are wonderful resources for aspiring acne specialists looking for information and support. Veteran acne specialist estheticians and nurses are eager to share what works for their clients. Ingredients, protocols and difficult cases are discussed in a product-neutral environment.

Although acne can be a frustrating condition for both the esthetician and client, with the correct training, any esthetician can become an acne specialist and achieve high success rates with even the most acne-prone skin. And because clients frequently suffer with acne for years before finding effective treatment, being an acne specialist is one of the most rewarding jobs a person can have. Helping people to achieve and maintain clear skin is the best feeling in the world—and once skin care professionals garner a good reputation for helping acne-sufferers, their businesses thrive. Make sure your skin care facility does not miss out on the opportunity to get real results for your clients with acne.


1. EA Eady, M Gloor and JJ Leyden, Propionibacterium acnes resistance: A worldwide problem, Dermatology 206 1 54–56 (2003)