In our interview with Sarah Cheung AKA Sacheu, you’ll discover her current favorite products and beauty treatments she’s tried and loved!
If you don’t know Sarah, she is a 22-year-old YouTuber from Hong Kong with over 140,000 subscribers. She creates gorgeous skin and makeup looks that are mesmerizing to watch. But unlike most YouTubers, there’s more to her channel than tutorials. From non-surgical liposuction to at-home microblading, she tries the newest beauty treatments that many of us would hesitate to try.
We spoke to Sarah about the craziest beauty treatments she’s tried and her approach to natural skin care.
Can you tell us your age, where you’re from, and where you’re based now?
I’m 22, and I am currently based in Austin, Texas, and I’m from Hong Kong.
When did you start your YouTube channel? Why?
It was about two years ago and I started because I had some followers on Tumblr and they always asked me what products I use for my everyday makeup and I just decided to do a video to answer all the questions. It started to gain momentum from there so I decided to keep posting.
Did you start only with makeup and gradually go into skin care or are you still mostly focused on makeup?
I think my third video was a skin care video but I think now most of my videos are about makeup.
We’re seeing a lot of different kinds of content on your channel now, whether it’s skin care or makeup, it’s a lot of different kind of experiments, so what are you hoping to accomplish with your YouTube channel?
I’m trying not to overthink about what kind of message I’m sending because I want it to be authentic and I don’t want to have this fake online persona that I’m just putting out just to keep up an image so I try to just document what I do, my interests and try to be as honest as possible even if those specific types of videos won’t get as many views. Like my philosophy videos, I post them because I think it’s important for people to see all different sides of me because I don’t just do makeup and that’s my whole life, so I just want to be honest.
We saw your video when you went to get coolsculpting with your boyfriend. What made you decide that you wanted to get it? How would you describe the overall experience?
I’d been thinking about non surgical ways to remove fat for a while and the only thing that was really standing in the way was the cost, because it’s not cheap to get one of these procedures. I always had kind of a pudgy midsection, and I like that I’m a little bit more heavy-set, but that was the one area that I kind of wanted to take care of and it just wouldn’t go away with diet and exercise. So, when LaserAway contacted me and I had the opportunity to get it without having to pay thousands of dollars, I just jumped at the chance, and Trinh [Sarah’s boyfriend] said he wanted to do it with me as well, so that’s why I decided to go.
What was it like?
I always obsessively research about whatever treatment I’m about to get. I knew so much about it at that point that it wasn’t really scary to me. And the worst that could happen was just some bruising or pain so it’s not really that scary and I’ve done some pretty invasive stuff, like microblading myself, and I wasn’t scared to do that, so with Coolsculpting I knew I was going to be taken care of and I wasn’t really scared.
How does it work?
Basically, there is this device that is attached to whatever area that you want to get treated, and it takes a couple hours because it uses a really low temperature to freeze the fat cells so they die off slowly. But after that, you just see results gradually for 6-12 weeks. And I thought the results would’ve stopped at 6 weeks but I’m still seeing results. This Christmas I was eating a lot more than I usually do with my family and I still have a flatter stomach than I had in the past which has never happened before so I’m still really happy about it.
Is it a permanent solution?
It’s not a weight management solution. It’s more for that specific area so if you destroy those fat cells, yes, those fat cells won’t come back ever again unless you gain fifty to eighty pounds and your fat cells start to split, but just for that area, it’s pretty much permanent.
What did you find surprising about the experience?
That it worked. You hear so many things about weight loss treatments, like magic fixes. I’ve tried so many things, like waist trainers, wraps, creams, all these things that are good for weight loss and they never work and they’re always a waste of money. And I’m really surprised that this worked.
You’ve mentioned that you’ve tried microblading your own eyebrows, how did you actually do it and would you recommend it?
I did it because I saw a couple of people do it on YouTube. I had the idea because I was looking around in my area for artists for microblading and I didn’t really like the artists in my area and I didn’t really have the time to go out of town to do it and I know it’s pricey and I know it’s something that I would want to keep doing if I like the results, so I just didn’t feel like having to pay $500 every couple of months. So that’s why I decided to try doing it myself.
It’s not something that I would recommend because it’s so high risk and especially since I have a pet at home, I could have easily had an infection. So, I’m glad I did it and I really like the results, but I wouldn’t recommend it to other people.
What’s the craziest thing that you’ve tried so far?
Probably the microblading. I think I’m about to get liquid injections just to try it and see what it’s about. I’m pretty open to basically any beauty treatments as long as they’re temporary and they won’t cause any health effects, like if the risks are low and it’s temporary, I’m always up to try anything.
What’s the one procedure you would never try?
Maybe facial plastic surgery. It’s just a personal preference but I wouldn’t try actual invasive surgery at least for the next couple of years because I’m so young and I think it might be traumatic to have to go through it. I don’t know. Never say never. I really like trying out different beauty treatments so maybe at 50, I’ll get a facelift but right now it’s not something that I would think about.
Is there anything that you regret having tried?
I regret getting highlights a long time ago. It was impulsive but it looked horrible; I looked like a pineapple. It really damaged my hair and it was hard to fix, I just didn’t like it.
That seems pretty minor compared to the other treatments, though.
I guess when it’s smaller you feel like you can be impulsive but then you don’t think about how much it can change your look and how you have to fix it if it goes bad.
One thing we’re also curious about is that you’re pretty brave in terms of of what you’re willing to try for your channel, do you ever deal with negativity that comes from that? If so, how do you deal with it?
I think the two most daring things that I did for my channel were the microblading, and with the microblading I totally understand, I didn’t do that as a tutorial for people to try at home, it was just to document my results. And understandably a lot of microblading artists were very offended by that video, and I understand because there’s a reason why people need a license to do it and there’s a reason why their results are so much better, so I get it.
But for the coolsculpting video, I got negativity because they thought I wasn’t working out or eating healthy and was trying to take short cuts, which is not the case because I’ve been actively losing weight for the last couple of months and I got pretty good results as well and I’m not trying to use it as a way of avoiding diet and exercise. I’m still eating relatively healthy but I think people are just very quick to judge any beauty treatments because people always think it’s a shortcut and you’re not willing to put in the hard work.
When did you first become interested in skin care?
I first became interested in skin care when I was 13 or 14. It was when I started to breakout and I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t know what to put on my face. Back then, I would put rubbing alcohol on my pimples, which now I realize is absurd and from then on, I started to watch more skin care videos and I started to do more research and I tried a lot of different things and throughout my teenage years I probably wasted a lot of my pocket money on buying skin care. A lot of it has let me down or made my skin worse.
So, that’s why I am very passionate when I talk about skin care that doesn’t work. That’s why I threw the Glossier exfoliator in the trash. Because I really hate when these skin care companies are irresponsible with their marketing and scam all these young women from their money and they end up with worse skin because of it and I just think that it’s an injustice. I don’t like it.
What do you think is bad marketing when it comes to skin care?
One thing that I really don’t like is when companies say “non comedogenic” to imply that it doesn’t clog your pores, when there’s no FDA standard for it. You can label it on anything, you can put it on a jar of coconut oil and the FDA wouldn’t say anything about it because there’s no regulation. So I don’t like really misleading labels like that and also putting things like alcohol and fragrance that could irritate acne on products that companies market to prevent acne.
What are some of your favorite products right now?
One of my all time favorites is the Paula’s Choice BHA exfoliant. That’s something that I’ve been using for three to four years and I’ve been using it since before I started my channel and I’m very loyal to it. After three days of not using it I can definitely see all my blackheads coming back. I start to get more pimples. My skin texture isn’t as good. It’s just something that I really really need.
One thing I’ve been trying out recently is the new face mini facial toning device, NuFace, because I feel like since I’m getting a little bit older, I need to start preventing skin sagging and wrinkles. Iit’s been very interesting so far so I’m gonna continue to test that out.
Does it actually work?
I’ve only used it twice but I think so.
What are some of the most common skin care mistakes that you see your followers making?
I think the most common skin care mistake is to confuse natural with good. So I see a lot of people using supposedly natural ingredients like witch hazel and lemon juice—like straight lemon juice from a lemon and coconut oil—and a lot of these ingredients can actually be very harmful to your skin. But people are in denial about it being irritating to the skin because it’s supposed to be natural, which is supposed to be “good for you.” I think that’s a very arbitrary standard and actually, a lot of natural beauty treatments I’ve tried have ended up hurting my skin a lot more, so that’s something I think people should be more aware of.
Are there any more natural DIYs that did work for you? And what’s something you wish people would stop doing?
What’s your best advice for people who want better skin?
Use BHA exfoliants and wear sunscreen. Those are the two basics. Everything else is extra.
What’s a sunscreen that you really like?
I use the Kiss My Face SPF 30 Sensitive Side 3-in-1 Sunscreen, and its relatively cheap. You can get it at Whole Foods. It’s a really good base for makeup. It has no fragrance. It’s very gentle. It’s good for sensitive skin so I’ve been using it for a while. It comes in a pretty generous tube as well.
Do you like any Asian skin care products?
I try a lot of Korean skin care products when I’m in Hong Kong just because they’re so widely available, so I switch back and forth. But in the US, I tend to just lean toward what is available.
Do you remember any of the Korean brands that you tried in Hong Kong?
Sulwhasoo, that one is a little bit more pricey but I’ve tried some of their masks and their eye cream, and I think it’s really good. And Cosrx, I think is also an amazing brand because they have a lot of BHA exfoliants and most of their products are fragrance-free. It’s also very affordable. One of their BHA exfoliants is twelve dollars last time I bought it.
Are there any other Cosrx products that you like?
That blackhead liquid is really good, and I also really like the salicylic acid cleanser.
Can you walk us through your current skin care routine?
Right now the cleanser that I’m using is the Cerave Foaming Facial Cleanser and it’s just a really simple one. I grabbed it because I ran out of my old one and it’s just easily available. It’s also really good for removing makeup. And after that I use the Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid, which is the exfoliant I was talking about earlier. And then, I use The Ordinary “Buffet” Serum. It’s their more expensive serum, but it has a really good mixture of peptides, antioxidants, and since my focus is anti-aging, I need it.
And then I use the Granactive Retinoid 2% Emulsion which is really good for acne and it’s also really good for wrinkles. For eye cream, I use the Dr. Dennis Gross Ferulic + Retinol Triple Correction Eye Serum. I just started using it and I really, really like it. My eyes are a problem area for me because I have dark circles and wrinkles, and it’s a lot of stuff I need to treat. For the final step, I use the firming peptide milk by Dr. Dennis Gross, I use it on my neck and on my face and it’s really good for making my skin feel more plump and glowy.
You’re one of the more transparent YouTubers, so what is the message you’re trying to portray?
I think it’s very important to be honest. I think there are a lot of new beauty bloggers, YouTubers who are just popping up who are just here for a year or two and they’re just here for the sponsorships and then they’re gone, and I think if I did that and took every sponsorship that came my way, it would be very obvious.
If I tried to push a product that isn’t good, my viewers would know that I’m lying. So I just think it’s important to be honest not just because I respect my viewers, but also just to maintain a good relationship with them and to maintain the trust.
What do you see in the future for your YouTube channel?
Well, I’m about to move to Hong Kong after I graduate and I’m also recently signed to WebTV Asia, a management company in Asia, so I’m very excited to just do more vlogs because we’re going to travel a lot, try out more Asian beauty brands, and I’m looking forward to expanding more in Asia. I think it’s gonna be really fun.
What does beauty mean to you?
It means a lot of different things to me. I learned a lot of makeup tricks from my mom and I played with her makeup growing up and when I got my first eyeliner from MAC, I saved up for and I was so emotional. I remember when I got it, I kept the box, I kept the receipt, I kept everything because I was just so happy that I had my own eyeliner. And to me, it is a development and growth and it’s been with me since I was a teenager, so I can’t imagine my life without it.
What does being feminine mean to you?
I think that it’s different for everyone. For me, it doesn’t just have to do with the aesthetic of what you wear or makeup or how you look. I think a lot of it has to do with how you feel, as well. So even when no one is looking or I’m not taking selfies, I still try on different makeup looks at home just for myself, just for fun. Feminine practices are a way of sharing your womanhood with your sisters, your mother, your friends, and I think feminine practices are just self care.