Dermatologist vs. Esthetician: Who Has the Best Approach for Treating Acne?

a woman getting skincare on her face by a Renee Rouleau specialist

Breakouts, whether severe or mild, are certainly frustrating to deal with. Luckily, though, there are many trusted skin professionals out there who specialize in treating this condition. The two most common professionals that people reach out to are estheticians like myself and dermatologists. But who should you see for your skin and how do their approaches differ? The answer really lies in what you think is the best fit for you. Let me explain.

Recently, I had a first-time client who told me that she had battled terrible cystic breakouts in the chin and jawline area (those hard, sore, infected bumps that linger under the skin for weeks). She came across this blog post that talked about how dairy might exacerbate cystic breakouts. She decided to follow my advice and cut out dairy for two weeks to see if there would be an improvement. Sure enough, she didn’t get any new breakouts. She had been on antibiotics several times in the past and while this did offer some improvement, the breakouts would come right back after she stopped taking them. She was absolutely ecstatic.

A few months later, she went to see her dermatologist for her annual skin check. She mentioned that she had cut out dairy and her breakouts completely disappeared. He replied, “No, that can’t be. Foods have no effect on your skin.” She shared this with me and it got me thinking about how completely different an esthetician’s and a dermatologist’s approach can be.

A Dermatologist’s Approach

A traditional dermatologist has the ability to prescribe medications to treat breakouts and other skin conditions. Prescription medications can certainly work, and there are times when I will refer a client to consult a dermatologist for one. However, they don’t always address the underlying cause of the issue.

Note: dermatologists do offer non-prescription options as well. They don’t necessarily rely exclusively on medications.

An Esthetician’s Approach

An esthetician takes an investigative approach. Being an esthetician with over 30 years of hands-on experience, I can tell you that I have a lot of alternatives for blemishes that my clients have had tremendous success with.
So, just like estheticians who 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.

Which Professionals to Seek Help From

If you’re struggling with severe breakouts, I recommend you schedule a consultation with the following professionals:

  • A Licensed Esthetician: This is helpful to discuss skincare products and professional treatments, such as chemical peels and deep pore-cleansing facials.
  • A Dermatologist: This is helpful to discuss medical options.
  • A Gynecologist: This is helpful to discuss and identify possible hormonal issues, particularly if you have adult acne.
Between the three, you should be able to determine which approach is best for you.

Disclaimer: Content found on and, including text, images, audio, or other formats were created for informational purposes only. The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website or blog.

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