Beauty entrepreneur Liz Earle on turning 60: Ageing is a gift

The skincare founder is encouraging midlife women to appreciate themselves.

Liz Earle’s 36th book, A Better Second Half, is described as a manifesto for midlife women
Liz Earle (Liz Earle/PA) Liz Earle’s 36th book, A Better Second Half, is described as a manifesto for midlife women

Wellness guru Liz Earle is a terrific advert for the healthy lifestyle ethos she advocates to women far and wide. She looks at least 15 years younger than her age and remains toned and fit, with radiant skin and silky blonde hair.

At 60, the mother-of-five is energised, clear-headed, with an aura of calm around her, and understands that the way she lives her life will give her the best chance of longevity. She has a boyfriend who is 16 years younger and indeed, she looks positively glowing.

Earle, who sold her eponymous beauty company in 2010, isn’t one for standing still. She went on to found the Liz Earle Wellbeing magazine, continues with TV appearances, launched the charity LiveTwice, hosts a weekly podcast, has written 36 books, gained a healthy social media following and has just been appointed to the board for the Centre of Social Justice.

Her 36th book, A Better Second Half – described as a manifesto for midlife women – may have gained its title in part from her reflections of the first half of her life, she agrees.

“As somebody who’s been twice divorced, built and sold a huge international business and brought up five children, things have not always been plain sailing. When I look back, there are things I wish I’d known at the time that would have made my life better as a working woman and a mother.”

She was in denial about ageing for a while, she explains.

“The biggest challenge was coming to terms with my actual chronological age. I turned 60 last year and I didn’t want to acknowledge it. I just wanted to crawl under a stone and pretend it wasn’t happening because I didn’t identify with this number. Up until very recently, there hadn’t been many older, inspirational role models.

“In my mother’s generation, 60 was retirement, 60 was grey hair, twinset and pearls and a pair of comfy slippers. I feel so far removed from that stereotype.”

Earle, though, has defied the numbers. When she was in her mid 50s, she had her biological markers of age tested (physical fitness, muscle mass, blood markers, DNA etc) which showed her biological age to be 39. It’s now 45, but in the next few years she intends on getting that marker down.

“What matters is your biological age, not chronological age. Mine is 45. And I’m dialling it back. You know, I have a 44-year-old boyfriend and I tease him that I’m going to soon be much younger than he is, and he’s going to have to watch out.”

Liz Earle
Liz Earle

In her late 50s, she experienced a lot of upheaval in her personal life. She divorced her second husband, Patrick Drummond, in 2019, and moved from the Wiltshire farm they shared to north Dorset.

“Starting again in my mid to late 50s was challenging, but also energising because it was a chance for a fresh start,” she reflects.

“I felt like I was being given a second chance. And I want to encourage other women who feel that they are washed up and no good. I talk in the book about being comfortable on your own.

“I wanted to take time out and not go straight back into dating, because I just wanted to find out who I was.”

She was single for two years until she started dating again, and after a few romances she met her current boyfriend – who prefers to remain out of the spotlight – online.

(Georgia Glynn-Smith)

Earle struggled with what age to put on the dating form.

“I was 59 chronologically, but I’d had my biological age tested, which at that time was 39. So I split the difference and put 49.

“On about our fourth date I realised he could be a keeper – and by then I’d turned 60 – so I sat him down and said ‘I’ve got something to tell you – actually I’m 60’. And he said, ‘OK, great. Did you have something to tell me?’ That was it. It was such a non-event.”

The wellness advice she offers in the book is backed by scientific data, and it’s clear she’s done a lot of research in the three years it took her to write it.

She offers all manner of hacks to maintain good health in midlife, a diet that includes more protein, vegetables, good fats and fermented food, and lifting weights to retain muscle tone. She is an advocate of journaling, meditation, supplements and cold water therapy, having a dip in her pond every morning.

She is concerned that midlife women don’t prioritise themselves.

“Maybe our spouses have left us, we could have been dumped for a younger model, we might be thinking about taking early retirement or career changes. Or hormones might be conspiring against us and we need some help in that area.

“Or maybe we’re really struggling with anxiety and a sense of self-worth. Because society marginalises midlife women, we become invisible, we become irrelevant, whether that’s because we’re losing our looks, or we’re losing our relevance in society. And actually, that shouldn’t be the case. We’re the clever wise ones who’ve lived through it.”

Earle had her last child at 47 (she was almost 48). Looking back, she says she had peri-menopausal symptoms including tinnitus and vertigo in her 40s, but never realised they were related. She started HRT when she was 51 and thinks she will be on it forever, disseminating information about HRT in the book.

She faced her fears of turning 60 by appearing on the cover of her magazine in a pink strapless jumpsuit.

“I’ve always prided myself on being authentic and I can’t deny my age is there. And I think of all of us who’ve lived through the pandemic, who are aware of the fragility and the value of life, feel very fortunate that we’ve come this far.

“Ageing is a gift. Even when I was running the beauty company we never used the term anti-ageing. I mean, we all hopefully want to age. God help us, please let’s keep ageing because the alternative is very final.

“It’s about pro-ageing well, keeping cognitive function, keeping mobility, having that sense of purpose.”

Prioritising sleep and spending more time outdoors are among the things she wished she’d known years ago. These days she opens her window first thing to take in natural light, takes a dip in her pond, whatever the weather, and thinks grateful thoughts.

She insists that little lifestyle changes don’t take much time or money but can make a big difference.

“We can all turn the shower tap to cold at the end of our shower for 30 to 60 seconds,” she offers. “We can all get up five minutes earlier to do some stretches in our pyjamas at the end of our bed.

“We can all drink a glass of water with a pinch of sea salt in it first thing. Putting a teaspoon of creatine (a compound which aims to supply energy to your muscles and promote brain health) in your coffee and taking that outside to look at daylight, standing on some stone or grass barefoot and taking some deep breaths and feeling grateful, I’ve already ticked off six things on my to-do list.”

She’s embracing all the good things age has brought her, recently welcoming her first grandchild into the world, and says she looking forward to the next decade.

“I feel fitter and stronger and happier at 60 than I did at 50, so therefore why can’t that incremental increase continue. Why can’t I feel better at 70 than I do at 60?”

A Better Second Half: Dial Back Your Age To Live A Longer, Healthier, Happier Life by Liz Earle is published by Yellow Kite, priced £22. Available now