Know Thyself, Select with Care: The Philosophy of Beauty — Dan-Sha-Ri

17 May 2018

We can all relate to this: a vanity dresser and makeup bag cluttered with all sorts of beauty products, from among which we only bestow favour on a few. We all get carried away by beauty claims, thinking that a particular active ingredient, a new discovery or a patent formula promising impeccable results is just what we are lacking. Unfortunately, we do this without realising that there is, in fact, no such thing as the best product, but only those that fit our needs. There is no right or wrong regarding how many products we use, as skin condition differs from one person to the next. The most important thing is making sure you are using products correctly.

Dan-sha-ri – de-cluttering – is a philosophy for everyday living. The three kanji in this compound mean “refuse, throw away and let go” of everything excessive. In applying Dan-sha-ri to a beauty routine, JOYCE Beauty believes in focusing on ourselves, not the products. Understanding what our skin needs will help us make the right choice from among so many.

This May, JOYCE Beauty interviews three millennials who are all enthusiastic about their lives, their work, their hobbies and their lifestyles. We have stylist Mayao Ma, Veronica Li and contemporary calligraphy artist The Inkless, all of whom have different styles, approaches and attitudes to life. Check out how they practise Dan-sha-ri in life, in fashion and in art.

Mayao ——

Sylist Mayao is a typical slash worker – there are indeed many slashes in his title: a graduate of the London College of Fashion, he is a singer/creative director/stylist/production house founder. It’s quite difficult to associate him with the minimal image of Dan-sha-ri. “I love small objects,” he recounts with a sparkle in his eye. To Mayao, Dan-sha-ri means keep trying; it’s only through trying something that you learn what pleases you and what suits you, ensuring you are well equipped to make an informed choice.

JB: What does Dan-sha-ri mean to you in everyday life and on a spiritual level?

M: Dan-sha-ri is a daily struggle for me, as my place is piled high with small objects. I love to collect my works: when I was young, I would buy five copies of each my designs, until one day I realised just how many things I had, and that I needed to do something. I think objects can help us remember different stages in our lives, and they bear emotions and memories, but then I realised that you don’t need something physical to remember things, and you don’t need to look at those items every day. Dan-sha-ri is a good practice for telling myself that I need to let go, to shake off all the baggage and move on to a new chapter in life.

JB: We all need to learn how to let go in life, but what about in styling? Many people would say it’s the opposite of minimalism; is that true?

M: Styling isn’t just about accessorising and having more items on someone. Too many things just drown out people’s personalities. For example, when we go out with friends at night, we might want to wear different accessories, but that might create distance between people if it’s just too much. Wearing the right pieces, even if it’s just one or two, can bring out your character and show your confidence.

JB: Do we need to practise Dan-sha-ri with skincare? What is a basic skincare routine for men?

M: You need to know yourself, and be honest with yourself. Whether it is skincare or beauty products, you can’t just follow the crowd. The most important thing is to understand your skin. For men, don’t assume Dan-sha-ri means doing nothing at all. You can skip the lotion, but you have to wash your face thoroughly, and I mean every part of your face. And if you want to make an effort, you shouldn’t leave out your neck either.

❤️️ Mayao’s favourites ❤️️


A comprehensive skincare brand. Its story is one of healing natural ingredients, cutting-edge scientific innovation and a rich heritage.

Magic Moisture Mist (will be launched in June)

A liquid moisturiser powered by an innovative, two-phase formula to instantly hydrate and revitalise parched skin. When combined, the oil and water phases provide lightweight hydration, enriching the skin with pollution-defying, antioxidant plant stem cells, as well as nourishing, regenerative essential oils.


  • Contains wheat germ oil, macadamia nut oil, rosehip oil, avocado oil and sweet almond oil, a powerful antioxidant, rich in fatty acids, that nourishes and soothes skin;
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Allies of Skin

Using potent antioxidants and intelligent nutrients to fight tired, stressed-out skin and protect against the harmful effects of pollution, each product works synergistically according to your specific needs.

Promise Keeper™ Blemish Facial

The nightly leave-on treatment mask is formulated with a powerful blend of AHAs, enzymes, antibacterial cell cultures and probiotics to nourish problematic skin, while its pH of 5.2-5.7 helps to boost skin cell regeneration.


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Tips: Perfect for use as a preventative nightly treatment two weeks before that time of the month or during a stressful period. Mix with a drop or two of your favourite face oil for an extra boost of hydration. Always use sun protection (SPF) the morning after.


Inspired by patented and Nobel Prize-winning science, RéVive™ products feature Bio Renewal Technology, a collection of skin-identical proteins that mimic your own bio-renewal process to help refine skin texture. It’s the hero ingredient in all its products.

Intensite Complete Anti-Aging Eye Serum

Intensité™ Complete is a potent, lightweight and highly effective eye serum. Formulated to significantly soften the appearance of lines and wrinkles, it gives skin a smoother, more youthful appearance. Bio Renewal Technology helps visibly plump hollows, volumise and re-contour the eye area. The look of dark circles, under-eye bags and crepiness is visibly diminished.


  • Contains Bio-Volumising Protein (Oligopeptide 41), a signaling protein that helps ageing skin act like it did when it was younger. Skin appears softer and smoother, as the appearance of volume loss is improved, leaving skin looking radiant;
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  • Imbued with a powerful combination of bio-engineered ingredients, including advanced bio peptides and Fermented Kombucha Black Tea, it diminishes the look of dark circles, under-eye bags and crepiness. Working synergistically to help improve skin’s appearance and visibly plump the look of hollows under the eyes so that they look younger, brighter and illuminated.

Tips: Apply morning and night to under-eye area, around eyes (crow’s feet), between the eyes and along the brow bone. Tap around these area until product is completely absorbed.

Veronica Li ——

Veronica is a stylist/fashion blogger/founder of Ever since smart phones were invented, many people find it hard to imagine their lives without them, especially people like Veronica, whose work is closely related to social media. “As well as introducing fashion items, I always try my best to add some positive messages,” she says. She hopes that by doing so, she can balance both materialism and spirituality. To Veronica, practising Dan-sha-ri is inevitable. “When we grow up, we have to be more selective about who and what is going to stay with us, and after we make that decision, we learn to treasure these for life,” she explains.

JB: Have you heard of Dan-sha-ri? How would you interpret Dan-sha-ri in everyday life and on a spiritual level?

VL: Dan-sha-ri not only applies to our homes; there are many ways to practise this philosophy of life. Your self takes centre stage in Dan-sha-ri; we should surround ourselves with things that bring us up. Dan-sha-ri marks milestones in my life. When we are young, we have all these choices in front of us. If you don’t understand yourself, you might want to try everything, but after all those trials, you have to be more selective.

JB: Which stage of life are you in right now? And how do you practise Dan-sha-ri?

VL: Married life changes everything: you have to consider another person and making decisions is less carefree now, but it doesn’t mean nothing good can come of it. I used to give myself excuses to shop a lot, but now my husband will help me think twice. Recently I wanted to buy a juicer, and when you want to buy something, you always picture how awesome your life will be with it. I thought, ‘Great! I can drink fresh juicy every day from now on’. But then you think again: ‘Will I really go to all the trouble of preparing fruit, blending them and washing the machine every day?’ I am glad my husband made me realise that.

JB: Home appliances are one thing, but what about clothes and accessories? As a stylist, is it hard to hold fast to Dan-sha-ri?

VL: When people like a certain style, most of them will keep on buying in that vein. But to me, picking clothes is a choice from the inside out; I think we should only buy items that speak to us and reflect our personalities. A real stylist should be able to match different outfits with a single item. Whether it for be work or my personal wardrobe, I don’t buy things out of impulse.

❤️️ Veronica's favourites ❤️️

Skin Design London

The brand comprises a series of award-winning Superstar Serums that complement and enhance each other. Everyone is able to create a bespoke treatment using different combinations of serums to cater to specific skincare needs

Designer Balm

A makeover peel has never been easier. A transformative at-home treatment made possible with four key ingredients, all you need is 15 minutes to achieve supple, smooth and hydrated skin. A quick fix before you are out the door in the morning or perfect for an instant transformation within a tight schedule.


  • Smooths skin, reduces fine lines and wrinkles, boosts moisturisation;
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Tips: Suitable for all skin types. Warm the balm between your fingers and apply a thin layer to clean, dry skin for 15 minutes. Rinse well with a wet face washer or damp cleansing pads. Can be used as a deep cleanser with a muslin cloth for a deep daily detox.


Uses ultra-pure grade lanolin, purified by a patented cleansing process, making it the purest luxury wool grease in the world.

Coconutter Hand Intense

Lanolin is the by-product shearing sheep for their wool. It mimics human oils, making it nature’s secret to all skin moisture. The new Lano hand cream transforms very dry hands and nails into supple and deeply hydrated ones, leaving a silky veil on the skin for continual moisture. Rich with the smell of coconut oil, the hand cream is nourishing and smells like summer.


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Tip: Also doubles as a foot cream.

Hampton Sun (New brand!)

This newly introduced luxurious sunscreen brand uses the finest ingredients, silkiest formulas and the most advanced technology in the chicest packaging, offering the highest protection with skincare benefits. With Hampton Sun, being out in the sun has never been more chic or carefree.

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This chemical-sunscreen-free face cream is expertly formulated with potent extracts and antioxidants for brighter, more youthful-looking skin. The revolutionary vanishing zinc absorbs instantly with a velvety soft finish. Fragrance free and non-nano for even the most sensitive skin.


    • Is an SPF 50, chemical-free mineral sunscreen with potent anti-ageing vitamins and antioxidants for brighter, more youthful-looking skin;
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    • Has a non-comedogenic formula suitable for all skin types.

    Tips: Apply 15 minutes before sun exposure, reapply after swimming, prolonged sun exposure and towelling.

    The Inkless ——

    The Inkless is a young, contemporary calligraphy artist who had made her fame on social media. Many may know that she left her career in marketing to join the world of calligraphy, but few may be aware that she is more of an artist than a calligrapher, engaging in the creation of art revolving around Chinese characters. The Inkless recently shared a post on social media in which she wrote Dan, Sha, Ri separately and had them framed on a wall. The post received a lot of attention online. “I inscribed these words after reading the book Dan-sha-ri. The interesting thing is, I wrote the words at different times, but they are surprisingly harmonious together, each echoing with the others.” The Inkless explains that the technique of creating empty space in Chinese calligraphy is similar to the philosophy of Dan-sha-ri.

    JB: What inspired you to inscribe the Dan-sha-ri post?

    TI: I don’t really care for materialism, I don’t have the urge to buy things all the time, but I can't resist the charm of old objects. I like the stories they carry, and one day before I knew it, I found myself buying all these vintage writing brushes and ink slabs. I was hoping to learn how to deal with all my vintage items when I read the book Dan Sha Ri, but I realised Dan-sha-ri is not about throwing things away, but in fact finding oneself, and I think this is exactly what modern people need. Finding themselves is what a lot of people struggle to achieve in their lives, and this book shows you how to make the first step towards that goal by getting rid of possessions.

    JB: You left your previous job to dive into the world of calligraphy – do you see that as part of the process of Dan-sha-ri itself?

    TI: What I can say is, quitting my job decluttered my life – rather than a physical space – and it is a step towards separating from my old self and turning to a new chapter. The word 'Dan' in Dan-sha-ri doesn’t necessarily mean 'refuse', it carries the meaning of starting something new as well; while 'Sha' means 'letting go'. Many people might hold on to a stable job, a stable income, but to me, letting go is actually a driving force, pushing me to go further. 'Ri' is 'separation', to break down innate values. Taking calligraphy as an example, it is a rather traditional art form and many people would consider that what I do is a departure from the tradition. But to me, the word Ri means holding on to traditional values that are still relevant and letting go of those that are not. Dan-sha-ri is an attitude; it applies in many different ways to different stages of life.

    JB: Could one practise Dan-sha-ri with skincare too?

    ​TI: I think the way to practise Dan-Sha-ri in skincare is to study the active ingredients in the product as well as the company’s background before purchase. Have faith in yourself and your skin.

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    On Mayao:

    Top: Jil Sander

    Pants: Peter Pilotto

    -- All from JOYCE​

    On Veronica:

    ​Top: Sid Neigum

    Pants: Haider Ackermann​

    -- All from JOYCE​

    Hair styled by: ​Tim Lee @ Hair Culture