For a state-by-state guide to NCEA-certified estheticians, visit the NCEA Web site. Associated Skincare Professionals members have completed training from esthetician school and have met all of their state's requirements. They also have pledged to abide by the ASCP's Code of Ethics. That group also has a directory of its members.
Before you walk into your neighborhood spa and make an appointment, do your homework. Make sure the esthetician you're going to be visiting is trained and licensed (they should have their photo license posted where you can see it). Unfortunately, there aren't any industry-wide standards for estheticians. Licensing is done on a state-by-state basis, and the training requirements for each state vary significantly.
Currently, every state except Connecticut requires that estheticians be licensed to practice, but the amount of training needed to get that license can range from as little as 260 hours in Florida to 1,500 hours in Alabama [sources: BeautySchool.com, ASCP]. Two states -- Virginia and Utah -- have a tiered licensing process. After 600 hours of training, estheticians can become licensed. Once they reach 1,200 hours, they become master estheticians who can focus more on medical esthetics. Visit your state Board of Cosmetology's website to learn its requirements.
Which esthetician you visit will depend on what kind of service you want. "You have to consider the level of training for the procedure you're getting," says Meraglia. If your goal is to have a relaxing facial, going to a spa or salon is fine. But if you want a laser procedure or medical-grade chemical peel, you'll want to choose a medical esthetician who works with a doctor and who has had additional training in these procedures, she advises.