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There are few things in life that make people of all ages lose their shit quite like glitter. From the haughtiest of runways of Versace an Fend to the shelves at Toys “R” Us, sparkles manage to capture society’s collective imagination. A famed face painter, however, once likened the shimmery substance to the herpes of the beauty world for better or worse. Clinging to whatever it lands upon long after its worn out its welcome, it's a 'huge pain in the ass.'

Funnily enough, Megan Dugan, the founder of Lemonhead—a beauty brand based almost entirely around glitter—doesn’t disagree. “I loved the look of it, but I hated using it.” After working for established cosmetic and skincare giants, Dugan set out on her own as a makeup artist and cooked up a clear, non-sticky, moisturizing base out of jojoba, apricot seed, and almond oils that combine with glitter for a mess-free application.

Even better: The eye-catching concoction smells like sweet, citrusy Lemonhead candy thanks to a brew of essential oils whipped up by a real Los Angeles witch. What started out as a hobby, however, quickly skyrocketed into an Instagram sensation literally overnight.

“Nine Zero One [owned by renowned hairstylist Riawna Capri and colorist Nikki Lee] loved it and called me ... the night before Coachella and asked me to bring more over,” explained Dugan. “I didn’t have any made so I had to scramble, but I dropped off more jars at 10 p.m. that night.” The next morning, a beauty success story was born. Everyone from Vanessa Hudgens to Kendall Jenner was spotted at the festival sporting the sparkly pomade streaked across roots and boho waves, an over-the-top shimmery effect that was practically made for selfies.
In the heart of Sydney's Chinatown, 30-year-old retail assistant Amanda is selling face masks and creams in bright packages. But it is the skin-whitening products that have her attention.

"Chinese people like whitening, [they consider it] beautiful — whitening and brightening because it's good," she says, smiling.

The smile is genuine, as Amanda is a fan herself.

"I use this one in the morning and at night … it can make your skin look very healthy, very clear," she says. "It's very popular."

And this popularity is on the rise with the market for skin lighteners projected to reach $US23 billion ($30.5 billion) by 2020, according to market intelligence firm Global Industry Analysts.

Across Asia, it is normal to walk into a beauty store and see mostly skin-whitening products adorning the shelves.
Talking about her work has never come easily to Kawakubo. Her notorious reticence now seems like the truest compliment to the difficulty of the work itself, the business, Comme des Garçons, which she started in Tokyo nearly half a century ago. Kawakubo was supporting herself by working as a stylist, but she couldn’t find any clothes she wanted to use on her shoots. So she decided to design her own.

“I established the company on the premise of trying to always find something that didn’t exist, something new.” That has been the kachikan — the underlying value system or soul — of Comme des Garçons, for 48 years.

And it has been Kawakubo’s struggle for almost as long. “Because I’m the kind of person who decides something and sticks to it, I started with that premise and carried on, and through the doing of it, without wavering from the kachikan, it became more difficult. The more I did it, the more people expected it, and the more experience I had, the harder it was to find something. I had no idea it was going to be like that. I didn’t say, ‘I’m going to have a career that gives me lots of suffering and pain.’”

Rei Kawakubo loves punk. Scan her career and the punk spirit of DIY defiance crops up over and over again. So it’s a part of the essential paradox of Comme des Garçons that she has stuck so hard and fast to the rules of the fashion industry. Season after season, decade after decade, she has shown a collection for spring, a collection for autumn; womenswear and menswear. And it just gets harder.