I sold my beauty brand for £140m but I’d trade everything to make my ill daughter well, says makeup guru Liz Earle

WATCHING her oldest daughter smile, beauty industry legend Liz Earle admires how great she looks.

But deep down she knows 30-year-old Lily is battling severe pain with her hidden disability.


Liz, who is the brains behind the cult Liz Earle beauty brand – which she sold in 2015 for £140million – says she would trade everything to make her well.

Speaking on the Fabulous podcast Things I Told My Daughter, mum-of-five Liz, 58, said: “I would give anything to change places. Even sitting here now, she looks great but she’s in pain. But she handles it so incredibly well and has become a real warrior for hidden disabilities.”

Lily, whose full name is Amaryllis, was diagnosed in 2018 with mast cell activation syndrome and borderline Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, which leads to overly flexible joints, a weak immune system and fragile skin.

Living in London with her husband Harry, Lily has been chronically ill for four years and was diagnosed in three stages.

She worked as a primary school teacher for five years before joining her mum’s magazine Liz Earle Wellbeing as a digital creator.

Lily said: “First it was migraine and then chronic migraine. That’s when I was signed off work, at the end of 2018.

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“That’s when I got really, really poorly, having had migraines and been treated by a neurologist for a couple of years by that point. Off the back of that I was diagnosed with mast cell activation syndrome, which is an autoimmune condition that affects the way your body produces and processes histamine.

“I also have borderline Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, which is a connective tissue disorder. And then last year, just to top it all off, I started getting cluster headaches, which are like the nasty cousin of migraines.

"So it’s kind of been in stages, kind of as each symptom or area I’ve been referred to a different specialist or something’s come up.”

But it wasn’t until last year that Liz, who has written more than 35 beauty books, realised how difficult Lily’s illness is – after Lily and her husband moved in during lockdown.

Liz, who was awarded an MBE for her services to the beauty industry in 1997, said: “I got a real insight into her world, because obviously we weren’t living together before that and she hid it very well and she copes with it very well.

“It’s such a life lesson. I wake up every single morning and the very first thing I think of is, ‘Thank God I’m not in pain’. Because I know that Lily’s waking up and opening her eyes and is in pain. It just puts everything else into perspective.

Not everybody who’s sick looks sick. You can’t tell. And so that is something I’m incredibly proud of Lily for, along with so many things.

“Not everybody who’s sick looks sick. You can’t tell. And so that is something I’m incredibly proud of Lily for, along with so many things. For Lily, this is now her way of living after being told she would have to manage these diagnoses for the rest of her life. As doctors said, ‘We can’t help you’.”

Lily adds that knowing she is never going to fully recover limits her. On the podcast, hosted by Peta Todd, she said: “It’s a conversation I’ve had to have several times with different people.

“I have a wonderful friend who I do some work with, and we always dreamed about setting up our own company together. I did have to say to her, ‘You need to be aware that if we go into business together, I might never get better’.

“These things that are causing difficulties now, like me having to cancel meetings and stuff, they might be here forever. So if you want to go into business with me, then you have to go into business with my illness as well.

“Like, don’t do it in the hope that one day I’ll be completely better and everything will be back to normal because there’s a very real possibility that I’ll never be back to normal. We’ve made amazing progress over the last few years – but there’s a very high possibility that I’ll have to manage this for the rest of my life.”

And just like Lily, mum Liz has made progress, too.

I’ve found that I’ve become stronger and I guess more grateful, more thankful for everything that I have in my life.

She said: “I’ve found that I’ve become stronger and I guess more grateful, more thankful for everything that I have in my life.

“Yes, lockdown was tough. Business was really tough, lots of other stuff going on – I got divorced in lockdown – there were lots of bad things going on, but throughout it all I was able to just hold on to the fact that I could step out and look at the day and not be in pain.”

  • Fabulous magazine’s podcast Things I Told My Daughter is hosted by Fabulous contributor, influencer and mum-of-four Peta Todd. It focuses on intimate conversations between celebrity mums and daughters. You can listen to Peta interviewing Liz and Lily now on all the leading podcast apps.



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