Paul Wellman

When Melissa Broughton opened Santa Barbara Aesthetics Academy (SBAA) last November, she answered the prayers of many newly graduated aestheticians seeking to bridge the gap between vocational training and real-world experience. “I wanted to offer advanced classes beyond the basics taught at SBCC,” said Broughton, a licensed aesthetician and a part-time skin physiology and facial protocol teacher at Santa Barbara City College. “And I wanted students to gain more confidence from hands-on training.”

After two years of planning a curriculum, finding instructors, receiving assistance from the Women’s Economic Ventures program, and searching high and low for a location, Broughton’s SBAA became a reality. SBAA offers classes with five different instructors three times a week, with topics ranging from airbrush tanning and aromatherapy to brow-shaping and chemical peels. Classes are also available for those who want to start their own business.

“The classes feel more personal, and you get the opportunity to feel like you own a little business because you have a space to build up your clientele,” explained Maricela Diaz, who graduated from SBCC last May and rents one of the rooms at the academy for servicing clients. Diaz also said that her involvement with the academy has provided her with opportunities to branch out with other professionals looking to hire aestheticians. “Networking is key,” Diaz added.

Broughton has partnered with other beauty schools, such as Lu Ross Academy in Ventura and Paul Mitchell Beauty School & Cosmetology School in Santa Barbara, which send their own students to take classes at SBAA.

This February, SBCC cosmetology students will be able to take classes at the academy. Although they are certified by the state of California to offer facials, as well as other beauty services, cosmetologists receive much less training in the area of aesthetics.

“Most people in our industry know not to hire cosmetologists to do facials,” stated Broughton. “But businesses nowadays want to hire cosmetologists over aestheticians because they can do more.”


Santa Barbara Aesthetics Academy is located at 26 West Mission Street, Suite 3. For more information, call (805) 280-2688 or visit


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