Careers in cosmetology

Last Updated 07 July 2010, 10:19 IST
Careers in cosmetology

We live in times where being well-groomed, stylish and youthful is valued. From teenagers to uber sexual men, a visit to a salon for a regular dose of pampering is the norm. Such lifestyle choices have made cosmetology a promising career option.
Cosmetology is the study and application of beauty treatments. It brings together basic techniques like hair styling and manicures to salon-specific routines like facials, hair treatments etc.

Medical cosmetology, the more intensive side of cosmetology, largely deals with skin care. Problems like pimples, acne, wrinkles, dark spots, require medical expertise.
Treatments like botox and fillers are performed by medical cosmetologists or skin specialists.

Don’t confuse a cosmetologist with a dermatologist or a plastic surgeon. A cosmetologist deals with beauty in a non-surgical manner while a plastic surgeon corrects or restores any part of the human body through surgery.

Mumbai-based medical cosmetologist Dr Jamuna Pai has an MBBS degree and specialises in skin and beauty management. “The turning point came when I realised that I could combine my interests in the beauty business with my medical practice,” she says.

As you probably have inferred, there are two aspects of cosmetology:
General Cosmetology: Courses in this field equip students with skills required in salon treatments (hair styling,  manicures, facials, waxing etc). A certificate course in General Cosmetology is typically a one-year programme though some institutes offer a three-year programme. Specialised courses such as manicures, facials, or makeup art are usually of shorter duration, usually a six-month, short-term programme.

*VLCC Institute offers a diploma and advanced diploma courses in Cosmetology.
*Kosmoderma Institute in Bangalore offers a course in Cosmetic Dermatology.
*Schnell Hans Beauty School in Mumbai offers a diploma, an advanced diploma and certificate courses in hair dressing.

Medical Cosmetology: The basic requirement to practise medical cosmetology is a medical degree from any reputed medical college. But dermatologists, physicians, dentists with a diploma or master’s degree in dermatology, may also practise medical cosmetology.
Domain knowledge in science is essential as they work on skin, muscles, tissues and veins/ arteries. To perform an advanced cosmetic treatment, a degree in medicine is a must.

After completing an MBBS degree, candidates may undergo a training/ certification programme in order to become a specialist or a trainer.

Indian medical colleges, largely, do not offer these fellowship/ certificate programmes. The only institute that offers a 12-week certificate course in clinical cosmetology is the Indian Institute of Cosmetology in Mumbai.

Scope and career prospects
With a degree in General Cosmetology, one can work in a salon or a spa. Beauty therapists handle facials, clean-ups and hair styling. One can also explore the option of working as a nail technician (manicures/ pedicures/ nail art etc)

With a medical background and a cosmetology course, one can venture into more advanced treatments. Some of the more popular treatments are laser hair removal, anti-ageing treatments like botox, fillers, and skin rejuvenation treatments like chemical peels.

Those who already have a license/ certificate in skin treatment can work as  assistants in a skin clinic. Typically, their responsibilities would include helping doctors perform laser treatments, hair removal treatments, chemical peels and so on. This is an ideal start for those who are aspiring to start their own enterprise in the future.

Salary and perks
General cosmetologists can expect a starting salary of Rs 3,000 to Rs 7,000 until they find a foothold in the industry. They can earn up to Rs 50,000 a month once they have three years of experience. Remuneration from medical cosmetology begins at a higher scale.

 “A medical cosmetologist works with different skin types and age groups. You cannot always operate with a fixed and standard approach for all the skin types,” says Dr Jamuna Pai.

“Take pleasure in being able to enhance your client’s features. The challenge is in giving your patient realistic expectations and being able to live up to them,” says Dr Purnima Mhatre, Managing Director, Gorgeous Skin Care Clinics, Mumbai.
Keep abreast with latest trends
Research and science constantly throw up new techniques and treatments  to minimise signs of ageing. Medical cosmetologists can now perform non-invasive surgeries to reconstruct appearances. Needless to say, a smart approach to move forward in this line of work is to stay abreast with the latest developments that are happening elsewhere in the world.

 PG degree in Cosmetology
Anoo’s International Beauty School, in collaboration with Jawaharlal Nehru Technical University, Hyderabad (JNTU) is offering an MSc in Beauty Management. The two-year course will equip students with knowledge of skin, hair and nail aesthetics, and cosmetology, spa, aromatherapy treatments. Practical sessions will be conducted at the institute’s beauty and health care centres. Apart from the post graduate course, the institute also offers 30 short-term, diploma programmes under the same university. Students a bachelor’s degree in any discipline may apply before July 25, 2010. For details, e-mail:,

(Published 07 July 2010, 10:19 IST)

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