Dermatologist Vs. Esthetician: Who Has The Best Approach For Treating Acne?


Having acne whether severe or mild is certainly frustrating to deal with, but luckily there are many trusted skin professionals out there who specialize in treating this skin condition. The two most common professionals that people reach out to for this condition are estheticians like myself, and dermatologists, but the technique for each can be quite different. So who should you see to get rid of your acne? The answer really lies in which you think is the best fit for your personal belief system. Let me explain.

Recently, I had a first-time client who I gave a skin treatment to and she told me that she had battled terrible cystic acne in the chin and jawline area (those hard, sore, infected bumps under the skin that linger for weeks), and then came across this blog post that talked about how eating too much dairy might be the cause of cystic acne. So, as someone who gets a lot of dairy in her diet, she decided to follow my advice and cut it out for two weeks to see if there would be improvement. Sure enough, she didn’t get any new cysts at all. She had been on antibiotics several times in the past and while this did give some improvement, as soon as she went off of the pills, it would come right back. She was absolutely ecstatic that cutting out dairy (even though she loves cheese and yogurt) cured her of acne cysts. A few months later, she went to see her dermatologist to get her annual skin cancer screening check and mentioned to him that she had cut out dairy and her cysts completely disappeared for which he replied, “No, that can’t be, foods have no effect on your skin, that’s just a myth.” She certainly didn’t believe this, so she shared this story with me and it got me thinking about how completely different the approach can be that as an esthetician, I take when treating acne clients versus a dermatologist.

A traditional dermatologist has the ability to prescribe medications for treating not only acne, but many other skin conditions. Their world revolves so much around handing out prescriptions that they don’t necessarily have to research other non-prescription alternatives since they do know that pills will undoubtedly do the trick. Prescription medications can certainly work, and there are times when I will refer a client to get on prescriptions to support what I’m doing to treat their skin. However, they are often just a Band-Aid for an underlying issue for which I believe should be explored. (Note: Some dermatologists do offer other non-prescription options so not all rely exclusively on medications.)

An esthetician can’t rely on a quick fix of prescription medication so we have no choice but to take an investigative approach for treating acne and other skin conditions. Being an esthetician with 25 years of hands-on experience working with clients, I can tell you that I have a lot of alternatives for blemishes that my clients have had tremendous success with. (Choose your skin type here to get acne products recommended and read up on all of my acne tips here.)
So, just like estheticians which take an investigative approach to treating acne, I highly suggest you do the same. There are many options available for getting clearer skin and there is no right or wrong answer. It’s very important to do research and get all the facts to determine what the best option is for you. Your body is yours and you have the freedom to decide what goes in it and on it.

If you’re battling with severe acne breakouts, I suggest you schedule a consultation with:

-A licensed esthetician to discuss options for topical skin care products and professional treatments such as salicylic acid chemical peels, deep pore cleansing and exfoliating facials. (To schedule an appointment for a consultation with a Renée Rouleau Skin Care esthetician in Dallas or Plano, Texas, click here. To consult with me personally, click here.)

-A dermatologist to discuss medical options.

-A gynecologist to look at possible hormonal issues, particularly for those with adult acne.

Between the three, you should be able to determine which approach is best for you.

Which skin care products are best for you? See our nine skin types or take the Skin Type Quiz and get products recommended.

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Renée Rouleau

Celebrity Esthetician & Skincare Expert
As an esthetician trained in cosmetic chemistry, Renée Rouleau has spent 30 years researching skin, educating her audience, and building an award-winning line of products. Trusted by celebrities, editors, bloggers, and skincare obsessives around the globe, her vast real-world knowledge and constant research are why Marie Claire calls her “the most passionate skin practitioner we know.”