California Esthetician State Board Exam: Free Practice Test, And Everything You Need To Know

Do you need to take the California esthetician state board exam? On this page, you’ll find everything you need to know about scheduling and preparing for your exam, answers to all the most common questions, and a free practice test to check you’re prepared!

Step 1: Check You’re Eligible To Take The California Esthetician State Board Exam

The state mandates the completion of a 600-hour esthetician program from a board-approved school. This program is designed to provide estheticians with both the theoretical knowledge and practical skills necessary for success in the field.

Curriculum Highlights:

  1. Facials: A significant portion of the curriculum, 350 hours, is dedicated to technical instruction and practical training in facials, encompassing manual, electrical, and chemical techniques.
  2. Sanitation and Safety: With 200 hours of technical instruction focused on health and safety, students learn crucial protocols to maintain a safe and sanitary working environment. This includes 10 hours each on disinfection, sanitation, and laws and regulations, ensuring a well-rounded understanding of the operational standards in the industry.
  3. Anatomy and Physiology: Understanding the foundation of human anatomy and physiology is essential for estheticians. The program includes 15 hours of technical instruction in this area, providing students with the knowledge needed to make informed decisions about skincare treatments.
  4. Hair Removal and Makeup: The program covers 50 hours of technical instruction and practical training in hair removal and makeup, including 25 hours focused on eyebrow beautification and 20 hours on makeup application techniques.
  5. Professional Skills: Beyond the technical skills, the curriculum recommends training in communication skills, professional ethics, salesmanship, decorum, and basic business practices. This holistic approach prepares students not just to perform esthetic services but also to excel in customer service and business management.

Step 2: Complete and Submit the Esthetician Application for Examination

After successfully completing your esthetics program, the next pivotal step towards becoming a licensed esthetician in California is to apply for the state board examination. This process verifies your eligibility and sets the stage for assessing your readiness to practice professionally.

Key Requirements and Process:

  1. Application Submission: The Esthetician Application for Examination must be filled out and submitted to the California State Board of Cosmetology. This form is your formal request to sit for the licensing examination.
  2. Fee: An initial licensing fee of $115 accompanies your application. This fee covers the cost associated with administering the examination and processing your application.
  3. Proof of Training: Along with your application, your esthetics school is required to submit documentation verifying the completion of your 600 hours of training. This proof is crucial for establishing your eligibility for the examination.
  4. Age and Education: Applicants must be at least 17 years old and have completed the 10th grade or its equivalent. This ensures that all candidates have a basic level of education conducive to understanding the examination material and the responsibilities of a licensed esthetician.
  5. Registration with Breeze: The California Board of Barbering and Cosmetology utilizes the Breeze online system for various licensing services, including examination applications. You’ll need to register on this platform to manage your application and receive updates on your status.

Step 3: Take and Pass the Written and Practical Esthetician Examinations

Once your application has been approved, the next crucial step is preparing for and taking the California Esthetician State Board Examinations.

Examination Components:

  1. Written Examination: This computer-based test, administered by PSI Services LLC, covers a wide range of topics important for a practicing esthetician. You’ll find questions on skin care, the functions of the skin, infection control, skin disorders, and more, reflecting a significant emphasis on scientific concepts as well as practical esthetics practices.
  2. Practical Examination: The practical component assesses your hands-on skills in a simulated professional setting. You’ll be tested on various procedures, including client setup and protection, hair removal, facial massage, facial mask application, and makeup application. This part of the exam is crucial for demonstrating your ability to perform esthetician services safely and effectively.

Preparation Tips:

  • Study Resources: Utilize recommended study material, for example, Cosmetology Guru. These materials offer comprehensive coverage of the subjects you’ll be tested on.
  • Practice Tests: Taking practice exams can help familiarize you with the exam format and identify areas where you may need further study.
  • Practical Preparation: Practice the practical skills required for the exam, ensuring you’re comfortable and confident in performing each task. Familiarize yourself with the supplies and equipment you’ll need to bring to the examination.

Step 4: Renew Your CA Esthetician License Every Two Years

After passing your examinations and receiving your esthetician license in California, it’s essential to keep your license current by renewing it every two years. This process ensures you remain in good standing with the state board and are recognized as a licensed professional eligible to practice.

Renewal Process:

  1. Timely Renewal: Your license should be renewed in the same month it was issued, every two years. This helps avoid any lapse in licensure, which could impact your ability to legally work as an esthetician.
  2. Renewal Fee: The fee for renewing your esthetician license is $50. This fee is subject to change, so it’s a good idea to verify the current cost on the California Board of Barbering and Cosmetology’s official website prior to your renewal date.
  3. Renewal Methods: You can renew your license either through a paper application or online via the Board’s licensing system, known as BreEZe. The online option often provides a quicker processing time.

Continuing Education:

While continuing education is not required for license renewal in California, staying updated with the latest trends, techniques, and regulations in the esthetics field is highly recommended.

Staying Compliant:

  • Keep Personal Information Updated: If your contact information changes, it’s important to notify the Board promptly to ensure you receive all communication regarding your license.
  • Understand Scope of Practice: Always be aware of the legal scope of practice for estheticians in California to avoid any violations that could impact your licensure.


How long does it take to become an esthetician in California?

The journey to becoming an esthetician in California typically involves completing 600 hours of training, which can take anywhere from 4 to 6 months of full-time study. The duration can vary based on whether you attend school full-time or part-time and how quickly you pass your licensure examination after completing your education.

What’s the difference between a cosmetologist and an esthetician in terms of services they can provide?

Estheticians specialize in skin care services, such as facials, skin treatments, hair removal, and makeup application. Cosmetologists have a broader scope of practice that may include hair cutting, coloring, and styling, in addition to some skin care services. Estheticians focus more deeply on skin health and cosmetic treatments.

Can I perform microdermabrasion or chemical peels as an esthetician in California?

Licensed estheticians in California are allowed to perform certain exfoliation treatments, including microdermabrasion and superficial chemical peels that do not penetrate below the stratum corneum (the outermost layer of the skin). It’s important to adhere to the scope of practice defined by the California Board of Barbering and Cosmetology and obtain additional certifications if required.

Is there a requirement for continuing education for estheticians in California?

California does not currently require estheticians to complete continuing education credits to renew their licenses. However, staying up to date with the latest techniques, products, and industry standards through workshops, seminars, and further education is highly recommended to enhance your skills and services.

What can I do if I fail the esthetician state board examination in California?

If you do not pass either the written or practical examination, you can reapply to take the exam again. There’s usually a waiting period and a fee to retake the test. It’s a good idea to review the examination content outline and consider additional study or practice to address any areas of weakness.

How can I transfer my esthetician license to California from another state?

California offers licensure by reciprocity for estheticians licensed in other states, provided the education and examination requirements are equivalent to California’s. You’ll need to submit an application for licensure by reciprocity along with proof of your current license and possibly undergo a review of your training and qualifications.

Esthetics quiz

  • Get your results!

  • You must enter this in order to see which questions you got right and wrong

Take a FREE practice test

Find out if you’re ready, with real questions taken from the state board exam.

Select Your State