A beautician has won through to the national finals of her industry's equivalent of the Oscars.

And only weeks after Sonia Hassanien competes in the British Beauty Awards in London, she will line up in the finals of a top beauty contest.

It is her skill as a nail technician that has won the 21-year-old, who owns and runs the La Mirage salon, on Durham's Elvet Bridge, a place in the final round of the British Beauty Awards on Sunday.

A former Sunderland High School pupil, she learned her nail technique work in Las Vegas before bringing her talents to Durham two years ago.

But as well as her beauty work, Sonia's stunning looks have secured her a place in the finals of the Miss Commonwealth International contest, which will be staged in Liverpool on November 20.

She qualified for the Miss England contest this year and also took part in Miss Commonwealth UK, for which she has been chosen for the international final.

Sonia has also found time to write and is currently putting together a book on spiritual psychology.

Her ambitions include establishing her salon as one of the best in the country, and having her book published.