What Are the Basics of Cosmetology?


Cosmetology is the professional trade of beautifying skin, hair, and nails, a creative options for those seeking secondary education. In order to work in the industry, cosmetologists must first be trained and licensed.

Hair Care

When it comes to hair beautification and treatments, cosmetologists learn proper techniques for shampooing, styling, hair cuts, and blowouts as well as more unique processes like hair design and hair braiding.Other forms of hair styling and treatments can include perms, chemical treatments, and hair straightening, all of which cosmetologists will be well versed in while earning their licenses. Cosmetologists will also learn the science behind bleaching, corrective coloring, highlights, and other advanced coloring methods, which they may use to change hair color, lighten or darker hair color, and cover gray hairs.With a focus on hair, cosmetologists can hold a number of different positions, like the following:

  • Hair stylist: Specializes in hair cuts and hair styling
  • Hair color specialist: Specializes in modification of natural hair color
  • Shampoo technician (apprentice position): Shampoos and conditions hair in preparation for hair stylist
  • Wedding & event stylist: Specializes in creating special hair styles, like up-dos, for event attendees
  • Film set stylist: Specializes in perfecting hair styles for actors

Skin Care

As for skin care and beautification, cosmetologists will perform facials, microdermabrasion, chemical peels,* makeup, permanent makeup, and eyelash extensions.

During their education, some cosmetologists may learn techniques for hair removal like waxing, tweezing, and sugaring.* Cosmetologists will learn proper action for special treatments like LED treatments, ultrasound/ultrasonic treatments, and mechanical massage.

*Some of services may require training and licensing in addition to a cosmetology license.

Positions for cosmetologists specializing in skin care may include:

  • Makeup artist: Specializes in application of makeup
  • Aesthetician (expert in maintaining/improving skin): Practice area generally limited to epidermis, or the outer layer of skin, typically work in medical settings*
  • Estheticians: A licensed skin specialists, who is trained to analyze and cleanse skin through a variety of techniques, found in spas and salons*

*Not all cosmetology programs cover all of the aforementioned skills. Some specialties require additional training and licensing.

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Nail Care

Cosmetologists who focus on nail care will learn proper techniques for manicures and pedicures. They’ll also be up to date with various polishes like gel, acrylic, silk and SNS [1], the dipping powder.*

Popular positions for cosmetologists interested in nail care include:

  • Nail technician: Specializes in nail and toenail treatment

*Not all cosmetology programs cover all of the aforementioned skills. Some specialties require additional training and licensing.

Cosmetology Is a Trade

While cosmetology may be viewed as a creative field, it is a trade which requires training at a secondary education institution and a license. Luckily, trade school offers short training timelines. The MTI Cosmetology Program, for example, offers 13-, 16-, 17-month programs.*

To learn more about why cosmetology is considered a trade, read “Why Is Cosmetology Considered a Trade?

*Not all programs and courses are available at all campuses. 13-, 16-, and 17-month programs are available at the Moline, IL campus. 13- and 16-month programs are available at the Springfield, MO campus.

What to Expect from a Cosmetology Career

So now that you know the basics of cosmetology, what can you expect from a cosmetology career?

  • While cosmetology is a trade industry, this field allows for creativity and expression. You’ll continuously be learning new hair dying techniques and new makeup styles as trends evolve.
  • Fulfilling position. Working in cosmetology means you’ll get to help others look and feel their best, which means you’ll leave your job feeling great about what you do.

If you’re interested in learning more about a career if cosmetology, read “What Are the Pros and Cons of Going to School for Cosmetology?

What to Expect from Cosmetology School

Cosmetology will typically teach the skills needed to pass licensing exams and train students in the treatment of hair, skin, and nails for entry-level cosmetology careers.

MTI’s Cosmetology Program provides students with both theory and skills training in basic hair cutting, hair styling, and hair coloring in addition to skin care and nail care education. The program offers 13, 16 or 17-month courses with both evening and daytime classes available.*

To learn more about the cosmetology industry, read “Is Cosmetology School Worth It in 2018?

The field of cosmetology can be fun and rewarding!

To find out more about MTI Cosmetology Program at the Springfield, MO and Moline (Quad Cities), IL campuses,* contact the Admissions Team.

*Not all programs and courses are available at all campuses. Cosmetology Program hour options vary per campus. Contact your local campus for more information.