Adored by fans for her warm, down-to-earth personality, the Birmingham-born contestant left the villa four days before the final after splitting from Jake Cornish, with whom she’d been coupled up from day one.
While the pair initially seemed destined to live happily ever after, it became clear Poole was more invested in the relationship than Cornish, who, viewers suspected, may have been exaggerating his feelings for the cameras.
“You know what? It still affects me,” says Poole, who now lives in Manchester. “But in a good way. That was the first time I ever walked away [from a relationship] and said ‘No, I’m choosing me’ – and I’ve done that ever since.”
It helped that the bubbly blonde – who now has 1.5m followers on Instagram – was embraced by the Love Island fandom, for which she is hugely thankful.
“I was actually really fortunate, because I know some people can come out and they haven’t always had the nicest comments about them, which can be quite hard. You have to be very mentally strong.”
However, the 22-year-old wasn’t prepared for some of the backhanded compliments she received.
“Little things, like the cameras did me dirty and I’m so much better looking in person,” Poole explains. “I’m sure people don’t mean it in a horrible way, but sometimes you’re thinking, ‘Oh God, what did I look like?’”
While she may not have found lasting love in the Spanish villa, the former marketing student says her time on the reality show made her more confident in the long run.
“I think I don’t hold back on my views as much now. I put myself first as well – I never used to do that,” she reflects.
“Also, I’ll say what I think and stand up for what I think is right a lot more. I might not have done that, because I was too scared of hurting someone’s feelings.”
She hasn’t remained friends with Cornish (“Obviously, I always wish him well, but I’m not in contact – and haven’t been for a very, very long time”) and is now focused on her career as a social media influencer and TV personality.
“I would love in the future to get into presenting,” says Poole, who competed in Dancing On Ice earlier this year. “And also I would love to keep on inspiring young girls with my platform.”
Speaking at a panel event in London is another example of how her Love Island fame has changed Poole for the better.
“I can walk into a room and be myself,” she says. “There were about 50 people [in the audience] and I just walked in and started talking. I don’t get nervous. It’s turned me into a more confident, strong person.”
Now, the Skinny Tan ambassador is warning sun worshippers about the dangers of too much UV exposure with the brand’s ‘Fake it don’t bake it’ campaign, in partnership with charity Melanoma UK.
“It’s creating awareness against melanoma, which is skin cancer,” says Poole, who used sunbeds until a mole appeared on her stomach.
“I went to get it checked out and they were like, ‘It’s not cancerous at the moment, but it could turn aggressive’. And since then I just haven’t gone on a sunbed.”
Poole’s picks: 5 beauty buys she can’t live without
Skinny Tan 1 Hour Express Self-Tanning Mousse, £29.99
“I literally leave everything to the last minute! This saves my life because it develops in an hour, then you can wash it off – it’s one of my go-to products.”
MAC Lip Pencil in Spice, £18
“I’d say Spice and Soar are my two favorite lip liners from MAC. I like a pink lip. A nudey-pinky lipstick, and then I put a pink gloss over that – that’s my everyday lip look.”
Dior Backstage Glow Face Palette 001, £36
“I love a Dior highlighter – the highlighting palette is really nice, because you have loads of nice shades to choose from.”
Revolution Superdewy Liquid Blush in Flushing For You, £5, Boots
“Liquid blush is one of my new favourites. It gives you a really nice glow.”
Jean Paul Gaultier Scandal Eau de Parfum, £51 for 30ml, The Perfume Shop
“Jean Paul Gaultier Scandal is my number one perfume in the whole world. It smells so good. You know when you have a perfume and it becomes your smell? It’s really feminine, and it says in the name – scandalous, but in a good way!”