Here Are the 10 Best Esthetician & Cosmetology Schools in the US

If you want to make your passion into your career, a college education might seem unnecessary. That’s especially true of those interested in careers in the beauty industry and becoming estheticians. Most likely learned how to do makeup from an older peer and gained extra experience through practice or viewing YouTube videos. If you have all that talent and experience, why should you go to college?  

Believe it or not, there are many reasons for estheticians to go to study at a formal school. While you might know a lot about skincare, you probably don’t know everything. Your style might work at your high school or hometown, but thousands of others across the country may have already done it. 

By going to a beauty school, you have the opportunity to participate in a vibrant community with other people who share your passions. You can learn from each other and challenge one another to do better. 

Finally, schools offer numerous networking opportunities, as you’ll get to know people who are in or will go on to be respected figures in the field. With these connections, you’ll have a better chance of getting the attention your work deserves. 

Convinced? Let’s take a look at the best esthetician and cosmetology schools in the nation. Most of these programs are part of independent beauty schools and require 600 hours of experience, but they offer all of those benefits already discussed. If you’re ready to hone your schools and meet others passionate about beauty, then read on! 


10. Xenon Academy

Founded by internationally acclaimed artist Xenon, Xenon Academy puts into practice his techniques and products that have become industry standards for generations of stylists. Partnering with Peels Salon Services, the school features all the tools and techniques needed to prepare students for successful careers in the beauty industry.

In addition to courses in barber techniques and beauty salon operation, Xenon Academy features an esthetics course. Building on student’s natural abilities to make people feel beautiful, the program gives them everything they need to help others reach their skincare goals. 

More importantly, the program teaches students everything they need to know about managing a spa. From client relationships to business fundamentals, students at Xenon learn about guest service training, social media marketing, and business management. All of these features give students the confidence they need to have a successful career of making clients relaxed and beautiful. 


9. Elizabeth Grady Schools

Established in 1975 to meet the need for quality education in esthetics, the Elizabeth Grady School remains a vital force in the beauty industry, graduating nearly two hundred students each year. 

The school’s esthetician program provides 600 hours of training, acquainting students with everything they need to succeed in the beauty industry. The school offers an experiential environment in which students learn by doing. 

As they gain hands-on skills, students put their theoretical understanding into practice. The school provides training in every aspect of esthetics, including skincare and waxing services, the art and technique for application of make-up, and the scientific foundations of skin, health, and wellness. Additionally, Elizabeth Grady Skills prepare students to become effective spa owners, providing them with the fundamentals of product knowledge, business operations, and sales. 


8. Ogle School 

Since 1973, the Ogle School has been training professionals who work in beauty salons across the world. They owe this success to an intricately designed curriculum, one that not only meets the needs of its students but emphasizes practical learning. 

From the start of the program, students gain real-world experience by working in the school’s on-campus salons across the country. By providing the community with low-cost services, students receive exposure to a diverse body of clients and have the opportunity to experiment while under the supervision of professionals. Additionally, students learn soft skills necessary for success, including communication, salesmanship, and people relations. 

With programs available during the day and the night, students have plenty of options for study. Whether attending classes full-time or working for part-time courses around their schedule, students at the Ogle School have opportunities to become beauty professionals. 


7. Aesthetic Science Institute 

As its name suggests, the Aesthetic Science Institute takes a decidedly academic approach to esthetics. In addition to classes in building and maintaining a business, ASI focuses on the art and theory of beauty. 

Nothing demonstrates this approach better than the advanced courses offered at ASI. Instead of merely repeating well-worn techniques that have been in place for decades, ASI allows students to push to the vanguard of the profession. With access to cutting-edge technology like microdermabrasion, chemical peels, anti-aging treatments, electric current, laser, LED light, micro-current, radio frequency, infra-red, and other esthetic tools, students remain focused on styles of the future. 

Knowledge gained through these classes helps students find new ways of helping their clients feel beautiful. With continuing education courses in laser certification, waxing certification, medical aesthetics, make-up, nail certification, and more, students make sure that clients will be confident for years to come. 


6. Make-Up Designory 

At the Make-Up Designory (MUD), students learn everything they need for a satisfying career in entertainment, fashion, or retail positions. With its rigorous curriculum, MUD provides a vibrant environment for future beauty professionals. 

MUD gives students scientific and theoretical knowledge through lectures and demonstrations, and hands-on experience in lab work. With a faculty of proven industry professionals on hand to share their understanding. Programs at MUD fit within one of four tracks, including make-up for fashion, film and television, multimedia, and mastery of the techniques. 

With campus locations in Los Angeles and New York, MUD sits at the center of the American beauty industry. Students have access to both comprehensive make-up programs to individual courses, designed to meet the learner’s specific needs. In addition, MUD offers classes in their studio extensions around the world and online options. 


5. Merrell University of Beauty Arts & Science 

Merrell University’s approach can be best understood by the school’s motto: “Inspire you, to inspire others.” Merrell approaches make-up as a type of service, making the world better by helping people feel beautiful. On a practical level, that includes teaching cosmetology arts and science to help students gain licenses from their states and employment within the industry. 

For more than 30 years, Merrell has succeeded in its goals with a curriculum based on hands-on experience and state-of-the-art education. Classes are designed around a three-step approach. First, students “Learn It” through lecture and visual aid, then they “Watch it” in live demonstrations from instructors and guest presenters, and finally they “Do It” by performing actual services on mannequins and real clients. 

With a fully appointed Pivot Point LAB, a full complement of Salon Fundamentals equipment, Mindful Teaching mannequins, and all industry-relevant tools, Merrell is the ideal place of learning for future estheticians. 


4. Bellus Academy 

With campuses in Manhattan, Kansas, and in several California cities (Poway, Chula Vista, and El Cajon), Bellus Academy provides comprehensive esthetician programs to a wide range of learners. 

Lead by a team of industry professionals, Bellus provides in-depth education and training about every aspect of skin rejuvenation and care. Thanks to the school’s proprietary teaching system, students learn their craft and art through visual, verbal, written, and hands-on learning. Students leave the program fully prepared to earn a license from a state regulatory board and a successful career in the industry. 

Whether they plan careers in salons, spas, medi-spas, or their own studio, Bellus Academy gives future estheticians everything they need to reach their plans. As the first American school selected to partner with CIDESCO, the world’s most prestigious qualification in the field of Esthetics, Bellus Academy offers specialized certification in skincare. The qualification, along with the school’s tools and faculty, helps students refine their core skills, gain hands-on experience, and achieve licensure.


3. Empire Beauty Schools 

Since its founding in 1934 in Pottsville, Pennsylvania, Empire Beauty School has grown to be one of the country’s best beauty schools. Empire strives to guide students through every phase of their education and to continue support through graduation and career placement. With campuses in 21 states across the United States, Empire is at the forefront of the next generation of beauty schools.

In Empire’s esthetician program, students learn the basics of facials, waxing, and makeup artistry. With its specialized tool selection, the program teaches the techniques of facial treatments, including deep cleansing and nourishing therapies to the skin of the face and neck. Students learn a variety of hair removal techniques, including waxing, studying the tools needed for a safe and positive experience. Makeup artistry classes cover the core principles of enhancing facial features and diminishing flaws. 


2. Aveda Institutes

Aveda Institute
Ed Kohler, Aveda Institute, CC BY 2.0

From its founding in 1977, the Aveda Institute has taught generations of beauty professionals the core concepts of the trade. But Aveda has more significant concerns in mind, as demonstrated by its philosophy focused on eco-conscious materials and wellness-oriented instruction. The Aveda difference means that beauty includes caring for the world, a principle that drives the products they design and the lessons they teach. 

That focus extends to the esthetician school. In addition to learning the fundamentals of skincare, facials, body treatments, hair removal, makeup application, students also receive training in wellness concepts and ecological responsibility. Students bring their wellness-first mindset into their future careers in some of the country’s best spas, or into the establishment of their own businesses. 

Aveda Institutes are creating better beauty professionals by combining beauty principles, wellness philosophy, and business development essentials. 


1. Paul Mitchell The School 

At the Paul Mitchell School, artists who want to boost the confidence of others become first-rate estheticians. Whether they plan for careers in health and beauty spas, salons, or dermatological offices, students learn how to provide treatment options to each individual client. With a full understanding of every aspect of skincare – including makeup application, peels, masks, scrubs, and massage — students are prepared for every need. 

Students gain this education three a curriculum designed around three unique levels. In the core phase, teachers use demonstrations and hands-on practices to prepare students for the rules and theories of results-oriented skin treatment and hair removal. During the adaptive phase, students learn not only technical procedures of skincare but also business skills and customer service abilities to make for a pleasant guest experience.

The final phase, the creative phase, gives students exposure to the latest industry trends, equipping them with knowledge and confidence to push the industry forward.

Previous articleDiscover the 10 Best Interior Design Colleges
Next articleThe 10 Best MBA Schools & Programs in California