“I am much more critical of my appearance”

Made In Chelsea’s newest star Nicola Hughes has been modelling since she was a teenager – but even years of experience in a notoriously cut-throat industry didn’t prepare her for television.

The Dubliner has exclusively told SHEmazing! that she’s much more conscious of how she looks since the show aired. “I’ve always had to be groomed – when you’re modelling you never know what the next gig will be so you have to be ready,” she explains. “And when we were filming I thought ‘Oh I am definitely a bit more self-aware of this or that angle’. But since Made In Chelsea has actually made it onto screens, I am much more critical of my appearance. I try not to worry too much, it’s part-and-parcel of television, I think.”

And although a trim size-8, Nicola admits too that with only a week to prepare for her stint on the reality TV show, the ninth series of which began showing on E4 earlier this month, she had to get into shape fast. “I ate green vegetables and nothing else that week,” she says. “You’re never going to build muscle or tone up massively in such a short space of time, but I did lose weight.”

She also says when she’s home in Dublin, she has a long list of beauty specialists she calls on. She explains that she hits the Beauty Parlour in Terenure for nails, Ceira Lambert in Shankill for Gold Fever hair extensions, the Lash Lounge in Dundrum, and Nu Essence in Dublin’s city centre for skin treatments. “I may as well be honest!” she laughs. “I’ve always been into my appearance like that.”

Nicola has been dating Alex Mytton since last September 

Nicola is currently splitting her time between London, where she lives with her boyfriend and fellow MIC cast member Alex Mytton, and her family home in Sandyford. Alex had a bad-boy reputation before finding his perfect match in Nicola; he notoriously cheated on his previous love, Binky Felstead, also a long-standing member of reality TV show. It's a history that, understandably, led to initial animosity between the two women.

Still, after meeting face-to-face, Nicola says she and Binky have cleared the air. “We’ll be fine,” she sighs. “It’s good that that first meeting is over and done with. She’s actually a nice girl.”

Binky Felstead is an ex of Nicola's boyfriend, Alex

And increasingly, the 25-year-old says she's more and more comfortable away from her native city – helped by the presence of school-friends. "I am a home-bird and I do get home-sick. But a load of my friends from Alexandra College are actually living in London now so I see them all the time. It makes you feel a lot more connected to life in Dublin."