LOVE Island’s Maura Higgins reckons the reason she is linked to so many male TV stars is because she isn’t just a girl’s girl.
The Irish beauty, 29, was at the centre of the marriage split between her Dancing On Ice professional skating partner Alex Demetriou and his Canadian wife Carlotta Edwards, following the pair forming a close bond.
And after splitting from her reality TV fella Curtis Pritchard earlier this year, she was last week snapped looking cosy with their Love Island co-star Chris Taylor.
But she is unapologetic about being pals with men and refuses to ever change.
Maura says: “Growing up, I think I had more male friends than girl friends and I’m never, ever going to change that.
“I get on very well with boys, as well as girls. Maybe having a lot of guy mates and being platonic gives me good banter, and it helps me be more approachable on the telly.”
As she approaches her milestone 30th birthday later this year, single Maura is busy cementing herself as a businesswoman, launching her new make-up collection with cosmetics giant Inglot and aiming at becoming the UK’s answer to American beauty billionaire and member of the Kardashian clan Kylie Jenner.
She confesses: “I’d say Kylie Jenner would have to watch out
“I reckon she’s going to be looking for my products in the future.
“I want to do what the Kardashians do and use my social media channels to sell the products. I’m not just putting my name to the make-up collection, I’ve actually done a lot of hard work.
“I’m a very fussy person, but I’m happy with the finished results, it’s a dream come true. I’ve ensured there are so many colours to suit all different skin tones. It’s a diverse collection.”
Just a few years ago Maura was a struggling hairdresser in County Longford, in the Republic of Ireland, finding it tough to make ends meet.
So now, with huge brand deals with high street underwear store Ann Summers, online retailer Boohoo and several big-money TV contracts, she has vowed to be savvy with her cash.
She wants to invest in her own home and refuses to splurge on designer clothes. She says: “Before I was famous I struggled to pay my rent. I know what it’s like to struggle, so I would never flaunt my money.
“I treat my family, but I don’t splash out, I have a good head on my shoulders. I am turning 30 in November, after all.
“I’ve worked hard my whole life, so the last thing I want to do is splash out on silly little things that don’t mean much to me, I want to focus on my goals.
“There have been a lot of crazy opportunities since coming out of Love Island. I care about my brand and I will say no to things, I only work with companies I love, I’m true to myself. I’m enjoying everything I’m working on.”
Maura and Curtis, younger brother of ex-Strictly Come Dancing pro AJ, came fourth on Love Island last year and lasted eight months outside the villa before Maura announced via a statement on Instagram in March that they had parted.
Cracks started to appear in January, when she was seen in tears following a row with Curtis at the National Television Awards in London.
They remained an item for a further two months, and she later insisted they weren’t a “showmance”.
Now Maura, who has two sisters, is determined to establish herself as a star in her own right, putting romance and children to the back of her mind.
She says: “I miss my family in Ireland very much, and my dog, but I hope to get back very soon. I never felt like I would settle down at an early age, or by the time I’m 30.
“I want kids, but I’m nowhere near ready right now, I’m very much focused on my career and that’s what I want to achieve.”
Part of Maura’s spark is her infectious confidence, something her mother Sharon instilled in her from an early age. She says: “I’ve been confident my whole life and I think I got that from my mammy. She’s a very confident woman, it helps.
“A few years ago I never would have thought I would have gone into the Love Island villa. I didn’t think I’d be brave enough to do it, but you just need to throw yourself into things.
“I’m embracing every opportunity that comes my way. I tend not to get starstruck. I’ve met celebrities in the past including Ariana Grande and Rihanna. It was at an American music awards, but I just see them as people.”
Next week Maura will launch her YouTube channel, named after her catchphrase “Fanny Flutters”, where she plans to release make-up tutorial videos for her fans.
But she promises that her looks are mostly her own, except for lip fillers she has been getting for several years.
Like many reality stars, her Instagram has been flooded with offers of free boob jobs and treatments.
But Maura, who now lives in Essex, says: “When you come out of Love Island you are offered everything from make-up and hair extensions to plastic surgery and operations. I just stick to what I know and love. I don’t want to get anything done to my body. I’ve got a flat bum and I’m just going to have to embrace it.
“I did go to a clinic to get Botox years ago but the doctor refused to do it and said I didn’t need it. I’m confident in my own skin.
“I want to give back to my followers now and help them feel confident too. I love a liquid eyeliner with my signature cat-eye flick. Getting glammed up boosts your mood.”
Maura has always been naturally slim, but has embraced working out during lockdown to tone her body.
She says: “I’ve been lucky genetically, but I started exercising in lockdown.
“I can’t say I love it, but afterwards I feel amazing.
“It’s been good for my mental health and the changes I’ve seen in my body have been insane.
‘I’m just so much leaner looking now, it makes me feel so good. I wish it gave me a bum, though.”
Social butterfly Maura is now busy planning her 30th.
She says: “I’m going to have the biggest party in central London. I want it to be huge.
“All the Love Islanders will be there, the more the better.
“It will 100 per cent be a messy reunion.”