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Hamilton’s WYSKT is the facial bar you just have to visit

As one of Hamilton’s newest beauty and skincare services, WYSKT Facial Bar is making a big splash and is looking to grow in 2022.

Founded as a home-based business by RN and Certified Medical Skincare Specialist Klarenz “Klare” Balonzo in 2019, WYSKT (which stands for “What’s Your Skin Type”) recently celebrated its 2nd anniversary. Having navigated the challenges of the past two years, it’s remarkable to consider that WYSKT originally began as a side hustle.

“I was working as a nurse in Toronto,” says Klare. “One of my colleagues mentioned she was doing facials on the side as a side hustle. I was working as a full-time nurse then and thought that was a great idea. I’ve always loved skin care and beauty, so I took a course in skin care in July 2019 at a community college. That’s how it started. I then enrolled at George Brown College in the Medical Skincare Therapist program.”

By July, 2019, Klare was already administering classic facial treatments, and in November 2019 she opened WYSKT in the apartment her and her family shared in East York.” When the pandemic struck in 2020 and lockdown measures were imposed on health and beauty businesses, Klare was forced to shut down her services.

Later that summer, drawn by the comparatively cheaper housing prices, Klare and her husband bought a house in Hamilton and relocated just as many restrictions were being lifted. This gave Klare the opportunity to re-open WYSKT in a new city.

“Moving my business here from Toronto, I had to build my new Hamilton client base from scratch,” says Klare. “I tried to keep up with marketing, but as a home-based business, I felt I wasn’t as visible to new customers, so I decided to join Milk.”

The partnership with the Concession St-based Milk Beauty Bar has proven successful for Klare, as she now has the advantages of a storefront and pedestrian traffic, especially as COVID-related restrictions have gradually eased up in 2021.

Klare explains that when working with clients, she has found that many of them don’t know their skin type, which is critical to determining proper treatment solutions. This is particularly pertinent as we enter the winter months, when dry skin becomes a common ailment.

“When I assess their skin,” says Klare, “my clients will often say ‘my skin is dry’, and when I examine them, I find that it’s neither. In fact, your skin type is often the opposite of what you might think.”

Klare notes that having ‘dry’ skin is different from having ‘dehydrated’ skin, which is often a temporary condition versus the actual, ongoing state of your skin. “Dehydration means you are suffering from water loss, which can happen even if you have oily skin,” says Klare. “A dry skin type lacks oil, not water. Often, clients will then use a harsh product with very active ingredients which can strip away the moisture barrier at the top of the skin, which then makes the ‘dry’’ conditions worse.”

Klare says she is about educating clients about their skin types and guiding them towards choosing the right products and treatments that will actually benefit them.

As the pandemic’s impact continues to ripple through the economy, and as many individuals respond by becoming entrepreneurs, Klare offers some advice for other home-based startups.

“What really helped my business is social media marketing,” says Klare. “Most of my clients came from my Instagram. When you don’t have a brick-and-mortar storefront, it’s hard for people to see you. Social media lets them know that you exist. People look at the pictures and videos, anything you post. I spent a lot of time creating educational content, making sure my videos look good. I also get other skincare therapists who follow me because they get inspired by my work also. It really helps a lot for exposure.”

What sets WYSKT apart from other skincare and beauty companies is Klare’s collaborative approach: rather than telling the clients what they should do, she builds relationships. “My clients and I work in partnership towards a common goal: for them to have healthy, beautiful skin. I don’t set myself up as an authority: I’m working with them. I follow up and stay in touch with them. Working with me is a conversation.”

WYSKT also has the advantage of Klare’s own background as a medical professional, with the website noting that Klare ensures that “all products and equipment are medical grade and backed by extensive research and science.”

Presently, WYSKT offers a focused menu of services, from classic facials and body treatments to dermal cleanings and hydrodermal peels, the latter of which can provide immediate results.

They also offer the very popular 24 Karat Gold Therapy Facial which uses a mask made up of real gold to restore and rejuvenate dull, mature, sagging skin for a youthful glow. This ultra-luxe facial also helps minimize fine lines, lighten acne scars, and reduce inflammation of acne — not to mention makes you feel like a million bucks as your skin literally absorbs gold.

“I can’t wait for my clients to see their faces in the mirror,” says Klare. “When they see themselves, they see how nice and clear and fresh and glowing and they’re so happy. That’s very rewarding for me.”

Looking ahead to 2022, Klare says she will continue growing WYSKT and gaining clientele, along with adding more nursing-exclusive services and other more advanced treatments.

You can follow WYSKT on Instagram and by dropping by Milk Beauty Bar at 532 Concession Street in Hamilton.

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