Licensed vs Certified Lash Tech: Which One Should You Get?

June 8, 2022

It is important to understand the difference between licensed vs certified lash techs when you begin your journey as an eyelash artist.  Becoming a lash artist is a rewarding career.  To get to the top, however, you will need to go through some hurdles.

What are the requirements to become a lash artist? It all depends on where you live and what your lash dreams look like. There are different requirements for lash artists in each state. Each location will have its own requirements. However, there are some things every soon-to-be lash artist should know.

What to Expect?

First, your license as a cosmetologist/esthetician must be obtained from the Board of Cosmetology in certain states. The process involves filling out an application, paying a fee and possibly demonstrating a certain amount of hours practiced. The details will vary depending on where you live, so we have created a handy chart further down in this article.

With that being said, prior to the process of becoming a licensed esthetician, it makes the most sense to go through a lash certification course.  Let’s talk about why!



Why You Should Try A Lash Certification Class Before Getting An Esthetician License:

Many aspiring lash artists wonder whether they should pursue lash certification or an esthetician license as the next step in their journey as an eyelash artist. Do you really need a license if you know how to do lashes?  You shouldn’t rush to get a license.  As a matter of fact, there are various reasons why lash certification is a better option than getting an esthetician license right away.

Let’s go ahead and cover the reasons why it makes more sense to pursue your lash certification as your next step:

1) You can find out if the industry is a good fit for you

Lash certification is the perfect way to dip your toes into the industry with far less commitment than an esthetician license requires.  Lash certification also allows you to be able to find out if you enjoy the material you are learning and whether or not you are passionate about pursuing a career as a lash artist.

2) You are able to build your skills before you start your licensing journey

One of the biggest struggles in the esthetician licensing process is the learning curve.  When you first start out, you are usually uncomfortable and perhaps anxious because you have no idea what you’re doing!  And that’s OK!  Lash certification courses are specifically designed for beginners.  They offer a path to provide you with confidence, experience, and an opportunity to find out if this is truly your passion.

3) Cost

Esthetician licensing requires a financial commitment in the neighborhood of $15,000 (or more!)

Imagine signing up for a licensing program, going through the rigorous course material, and finding out that a career as an eyelash artist isn’t for you?  It happens.  That’s why it makes a lot of sense to dip your toes in the water and try a lash certification course, which will not only teach you everything you need to know, but will also substantially more cost-effective.

From a value perspective, by choosing to begin your journey with lash certification, you will learn everything you need to know to become a lash artist, at a fraction of the price!

4) You will save a lot of time

If you are looking to obtain an esthetician license, you will need to be prepared to commit a considerable amount of time to the program.  Generally speaking, an esthetician license takes about one year to obtain.

On the other hand, if you want to learn all of the skills necessary to become a lash artist, you can go through a lash certification course which only takes 3-5 days to complete.  You heard that right.  Rather than spending an entire year on an esthetician license, you get the benefit of learning how to become a lash artist in a much quicker timeframe!

5) You learn actual eyelash extension service skills by practicing on live models/clients

A lash certification program isn’t just a class where you sit down and take notes and listen to an instructor.  You will get real world experience by having the opportunity to perform actual eyelash extension services on live models and clients.  You will perform the same exact services in the certification class that you will in your career as a lash artist!

6) The opportunity to learn from an actual Lash business owner

While lash licensing programs provide an excellent path forward to your journey as a lash artist, lash certification provides you an opportunity to work with a real life lash business owner.  You will be guided by someone who has been in the trenches, understands the business side of the industry, has demonstrated success, and can provide actionable advice for you to create your own lash business!

7) Learning different styles and techniques

One of the benefits of practicing on live models/clients is the ability to learn about the different styles and techniques you will perform during your career as a lash artist.  You will also learn how to work with Russian and American volume!


Now that we’ve covered why you should choose lash certification as your next step, let’s talk state regulations!



You can find state regulations, training programs, and more!

After you complete your eyelash certification, in order to do eyelash extensions in many states, you will need a cosmetology or esthetician license. Some states also allow licensed dental and medical professionals. Eyelash extension training programs might require that you have a license as an esthetician, cosmetologist or other license in order to participate.

This regulation is set by the state Board of Cosmetology. Check with your state board for information about your state’s requirements regarding eyelash extensions.

State (In alphabetical order)

Which License is Required?

More information

Alabama Not clear, consult state board
Alaska Hair stylist, Estheticians, Medical License
Arizona Cosmetologist, Aesthetician
Arkansas Cosmetologist, Aestheticians, Barber, medical license in a medical facility
California Cosmetologist, Esthetician, those working under physicians
Colorado Cosmetologist, Esthetician
Connecticut Not clear, consult state board
Delaware No Licence Required
DC Cosmetologist, Esthetician, Medical License
Florida Cosmetologist, Esthetician, Full Specialist, Facial Specialist, Medical License
Georgia Master Cosmetologist, Esthetician, medical license in medical facility
Hawaii Cosmetologist, Esthetician, Barber
Idaho Not clear, consult state board
Illinois Cosmetologist, Esthetician
Indiana Cosmetologist, Esthetician
Iowa Cosmetologist, Esthetician, Must be performed in licensed salon
Kansas Cosmetologist, Esthetician
Kentucky Cosmetologist, Esthetician
Louisiana Cosmetologist, Esthetician
Maine Cosmetologist, Aesthetician
Maryland Not clear, consult state board
Massachusetts Cosmetologist, Esthetician
Michigan Cosmetologist, Esthetician
Minnesota Cosmetologist, Esthetician
Mississippi Cosmetologist, Esthetician
Missouri Not clear, consult state board
Montana Cosmetologist, Esthetician
Nebraska Cosmetologist, Esthetician
Nevada Cosmetologist, Aesthetician
New Hampshire Cosmetologist, Esthetician
New Jersey Cosmetologist (must be working in a salon). Medical license under a doctor
New Mexico Esthetician
New York Cosmetologist, Esthetician
North Carolina Cosmetologist, Esthetician
North Dakota Cosmetologist, Esthetician
Ohio Cosmetologist or Esthetician
Oklahoma Cosmetologist, Esthetician
Oregon Cosmetologist, Esthetician, Medical License
Pennsylvania Cosmetologist, Esthetician
Rhode Island Cosmetologist, Esthetician
South Carolina Cosmetologist, Esthetician
South Dakota Cosmetologist, Esthetician, Must be performed in a licensed salon
Tennessee Cosmetologist, Aesthetician
Texas Cosmetologist, Esthetician, or Eyelash Extension Specialist
Utah Cosmetologist, Barber, Esthetician
Vermont Cosmetology, Esthetician
Virginia Esthetician, Cosmetologist
Washington Cosmetologists, Esthetician
West Virginia Cosmetologists, Esthetician
Wisconsin No License Required
Wyoming Cosmetologists, Esthetician


Why will I eventually need a state license for eyelash extensions? A license is a legal title granted by the state authorities.

The state Board of Cosmetology determines the education requirements to become a licensed technician. Your state might require between 500 and 2,400 hours of classroom instruction. You will then need to demonstrate proficiency in one or more state-facilitated tests.

This will ensure that you are able to perform safe procedures such as eyelash extensions.

You may then complete an eyelash-training program in those states that require one.

Not every state requires you to take part in a training program. Refer to your state’s Board of Cosmetology for information on how to apply the law. It is beneficial to take an eyelash training course to learn proper application techniques as well as aftercare.

You’ll learn different things depending on which program you choose. The most common topics are:

  • Contagious and infectious diseases of the eyes
  • Allergy reactions
  • Proper sanitation practices
  • Client preparation
  • Lash bonding and effective tips for bonding
  • Safety and occupational health
  • Procedures for eyelash extensions
  • Separation and isolation of eyelash extensions

This process will allow you to confidently lash your clients and give them the best possible services. Our handy guide will help you find an in-person eyelash extension course near to you.

Feel free to check out our Eyelash Extension Training if you are interested in learning more and beginning a new journey as a lash extension artist!



Cosmina Esanu is a respected figure in the lash industry, known for her integrity and expertise. She’s the force behind Limitlashes™️, a premium lash product line, and Limitlashes™️Academy, offering top-tier lash training and certification. Cosmina also shares her knowledge through her Full-Time Lash Artist Podcast & YouTube channel, empowering aspiring lash artists with invaluable insights. Her dedication to the industry has earned her a reputation as a leading expert and speaker at other lash & beauty events & workshops.

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