In the final quarter of 2020, we had the wonderful opportunity to connect with community heroes who carried us through the storms of our global pandemic. In partnership with Excel Cosmetics, we presented The Heroes Edit, featuring 5 women who joined the fight on the frontlines. From being medical first responders, protecting and serving the community, as well as providing essential services. As we ease into 2021, The DC Edit is excited to finally introduce the women of The Heroes Edit and their stories — in their own words.   


Estelle Tan, Doctor 

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1. Where were you on the frontlines of COVID-19? 

Since the start of the year I’ve been working at the Singapore Expo, which is a community recovery facility that was set-up by the government at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Prior to COVID-19, I was working in a government hospital. The Ministry of Health redeployed most of the doctors during the pandemic so within a week, I went from a general hospital to the Singapore Expo. 

2. And what was the experience like? 

Initially, I have to say I was both afraid and apprehensive. I’m quite ashamed to say I had a bit of reservations towards the foreign workers. But after I got to know them as patients, we would talk and they’d tell me more about their families and why they came to Singapore… Really, they are very very kind people. They are very helpful and they always think for other people. Even little things. Instead of calling the cleaners they would clean their own rooms; when we pass them biscuits they would ask if there is enough for everybody. I felt that was really heartwarming. 

3. Was it challenging being on the medical frontlines? 

For those who are helping on the frontlines you have 12-hour shifts. Yes it can get tiring at times, but I think I made more friends than anything else. Also really getting to know the patients and hearing their stories… Like how some of them didn’t have any income for quite a while and couldn’t provide for their families at home. That reminded me how fortunate I was, and really pushed us further to want to make a small difference for [the patients]. 

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Estelle’s pick: Excel’s Glaze Balm Lip for hydrated lips and a pop of colour!

4. So you started Smile Singapore — tell us more about that!

Smile Singapore really just started from one person (myself) and my friend. We wanted to bring the patients some snacks and dry food like powder milo, coffee, biscuits, bread… Just to put a  smile on their face. Because really, some of them had been in the facility for as long as 2 months. There are no windows there and it’s very boring, you’re just there everyday. I’m very heartened to say that just by putting [Smile Singapore] on Facebook, many Singaporeans came forward to give us thousands of biscuits. And they were not old biscuits, they were new ones. There was a lot of effort and we were really touched!

5. What is the situation for you right now?

Right now I’m very happy to say that the patient load is really low. In fact, I think most patients have recovered. For myself, I’m back at general practice again. I have no regrets being on the frontlines, I think this is the most blessed year I’ve had. Because I feel like I’ve really made a difference and for once, I could give back to Singapore. I consider myself very fortunate to be able to do that.

Insyirah Ismail, Nurse

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1. Where were you on the frontlines of COVID-19?

I was originally from a colorectal ward, when my nurse manager came to me and she said she has chosen 8 of us to be deployed to the COVID-19 side. Initially I was quite nervous and anxious because I didn’t know what I was getting into. It also felt like a “why me” kind of situation! But after working with the team and making new friends in the new ward, I think it was a very fruitful experience. 

2. What was the most challenging and most rewarding part about being on the frontlines?

For me the challenging part was trying to get used to the new working environment. We had new polices, new rules… We had to build a lot of things from scratch. I had to learn new things and there was a steep learning curve. But actually, most of the COVID-19 patients were foreign workers and I felt really touched when they would leave the premises and say “Thank you sister, thank you brother.” They were very grateful and despite everything, they still choose to have a positive outlook. That’s something I learnt from them. I told myself that if [my patients] can be so positive (in spite of all the challenges), I should try my best to stay optimistic and motivated too. 

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Insyirah’s pick: The Excel Skinny Rich Eye Shadow, in a neutral quartet for everyday wear.

3. What did you think about the stigma towards medical workers during COVID-19? 

I was a bit enraged hearing about [medical workers] experiencing things like that. I used to wear my uniform outside but because of the news I didn’t dare to wear it. But there was a huge outpouring of support as well. Singaporeans really came together and called these actions out! So it resulted in something more positive! I feel happy that people are more supportive (of healthcare workers) now. 

4. Looking back on your time on the frontlines, do you have any regrets?

Not at all! In the past we had SARS and I was only 7 years old. Being part of the COVID-19 pandemic and being able to do something for it was a challenge, but I also feel blessed to be able to play a part.

Irene Soh, Procedural Supervisor 

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1. Where were you on the frontlines of COVID-19?

I fly for JetStar Australia and I’ve been back since March this year, we’re all currently on unpaid leave. I served up a 14 day SHN and nearly went mad! Right after that I was a Social Distancing Ambassador, and when the opportunity came up to volunteer [to work] in swab operations, I went for it. I thought it would be quite meaningful. That’s what I’ve been doing since May 2020. I’ve since gone from swabbing to being a Procedural Supervisor too. Currently, I look after 4 dormitories which I visit to ensure that procedures are being adhered to, infection control is being looked after… Things like that! 

2. What’s the most challenging and most rewarding part about your role on the frontlines?

I love taking my job now in my stride, so I don’t find it a challenge. But for a traveller like myself, your mood gets a bit down when you can’t travel. I’ve actually never been stuck in Singapore for more than a week! But the most rewarding part about my job is seeing reporting fewer and fewer numbers of community cases. It’s a light of hope for me, that the routine testing and checks we’re doing is successful. Whenever I see that message come in, I feel like I played a part in preventing community spread. Very small part, but it works! 

It has been very enriching because I feel like I did something out of this time in pandemic. A lot of us in the aviation industry are jobless because we have no destinations to fly too (especially in Singapore). So to be able to find something to do — something meaningful — I think it’s great. 

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Irene’s pick: Excel’s 3-in-1 Eyebrow Pencil that comes with both a pencil and brow powder.

3. Tell us more about your online persona Ah Soh! 

I originally had just one personality for fun i.e. Ah Soh, a local auntie! The character was quite dead for a while. But when I was on SHN and going to be at home for 14 days, I thought let’s give this a go. So we started doing content and revived Ah Soh, plus created more characters along the way. It’s really fun to be able to use this time to do something creative! I’ve always been so busy with flying, that this time has been surprisingly productive for me to do something creative and meaningful.

4. What’s next for you?  

I really hope we can go back to flying in July 2021, but we all know that that’s uncertain. This is actually my second chance at flying, I used to fly for Singapore Airlines and resigned when I had my first kid. I stayed at home for 10 years to look after my kids and when there was this opportunity to fly again, I took it on. I really love flying! This is my second chance and I hope I don’t lose it! 

Nur Dayanna Omar, Pharmacy Retail Assistant

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1. Where were you on the frontlines of COVID-19?

I started working as a retail assistant in a pharmacy during the COVID-19 pandemic, during the start of the circuit breaker. I was supposed to graduate last year, but due to the situation that (my graduation) was delayed so I decided to get a job. Because I’m usually shy and get anxious a lot, I wanted to build up my confidence. 

2. What was it like working on the shop floor during the pandemic? 

There were customers who would come and hoard things like masks. (At that time we had to limit the number of masks customers could purchase.) There was one customer who wanted to buy more [than the limit] and got quite angry and agitated. I tried to calm him down, but he got even angrier. Eventually, my manager had to step in. There were also some customers who would become very aggressive over small things and scold us. I remember an uncle calling me a bastard at the cashier, and I nearly cried! Sometimes it would take a toll on me and I’m still finding ways to manage this.  

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Dressier eyes on Dayana, with fluttery lashes created using Excel’s Long & Coloured Lash Mascara.

3. What has been the most challenging and most rewarding part about your experience?

There were a lot of things I found challenging, because people affect me a lot…more than physical work! But I feel like I’ve learnt to be more firm over time, especially when I meet rude customers. I have no regrets taking on this job during the pandemic. Without this job, I wouldn’t be working anywhere else and this has been an opportunity for me to earn some money amidst the pandemic. I hope to use the money to do something meaningful! 

Pradnya Govind, Medical Social Worker

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1. Where were you when COVID-19 happened? 

I graduated in May 2020 and started work in June! When circuit breaker started I was still in school, so I could see the impact of COVID-19 both in school and at work. At school there was a sudden disruption, because all the classes went online. Because I’m someone who enjoys social interaction, I had to really get used to staying at home, talking to friends over zoom etc. 

I started work (as a medical social worker) on the last day of the Circuit Breaker, so I really did not know what to expect. It was quite an interesting experience. I started meeting ptients from different walks of life and [because of that] I could really see the social impact of COVID-19. 

2. What was it like being on the frontlines? 

I do not directly work with COVID-19 patients in my job. But I do see a lot of patients and families whose lives were impacted by the pandemic, especially financially. I met a lot of families who had lost income and required financial assistance. Another impact of COVID-19 I observed was also increasing social isolation and loneliness among the elderly, especially those staying alone. We’d try to link them up to community services, see if we can keep them engaged via other means, and also encourage family members/neighbours to check in on them. 

It was a reality check; you see the impact of COVID-19 on real, everyday people. So I learnt to be more mindful and tactful when having conversations with my patients. Even when they don’t bring up COVID-19 directly, I’ll ask them about how the pandemic has affected their family life and livelihood. 

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Clean, fresh skin on Pradnya, created with Excel’s Lasting Touch Base and Clear Lucent Powder.

3. What has been the most challenging and most rewarding part about your experience? 

I can’t really speak for the difference the pandemic has made for my role as a healthcare professional (as I started work in the midst of the pandemic)! But I think starting the new job, talking to all these patients and seeing how I can empower them was a challenge but also something definitely rewarding. People may come to us for one form of assistance, but we’ll always conduct an assessment and see how we can also help them on other fronts. 

4. What is the situation like right now? 

You might think that people who lost their jobs during circuit breaker would have found a new job by now, but not really. The job market is really tough! Personally, I have friends who just graduated and are still finding jobs although it’s already been about 5 months. At work [we see] many people who are still trying to find permanent jobs. Some are currently employed on a contract/part-time basis, but that’s still a huge dip in their income.

Supercharged Beauty: 3 Hero Kits

1. SOLAR: Complexion & Base Essentials

  • Excel Lasting Touch Base Silky Smoothing: A velvety liquid-to-powder base that controls excess shine and smooths pores. For long-lasting soft, powdered skin!
  • Excel 3-in-1 Eyebrow Pencil: An all-in-one trio featuring an eyebrow pencil, eyebrow powder and fluffy brush. Perfect for creating natural, feathery brows and on-the-go touch ups.
  • Excel Clear Lucent Powder: An ultra-fine colour-correcting and ceramides-infused powder infused to smooth out uneven skin. 
  • Excel Skin Tint Serum: A lightweight serum-foundation hybrid developed with soothing and hydrating ingredients (4 types of ceramides, Souhakuhi Extract, Peony Extract) for a dewy and translucent skin finish. 

2. AURORA: Easy, Work-Appropriate Neutrals

  • Excel Skinny Rich Shadow: The best-selling, terrifically beginner-friendly palette of core neutrals. Buttery, pigmented and infused with ultra-fine pearls for a brilliant sheen! 
  • Excel Illumi Couture Shadow: A unique cream-to-power shadow that delivers a sheer, pearlescent finish. This layers seamlessly and also doubles up as a hydrating (infused with Squalene and Jojoba Oil) eyeshadow base. 
  • Excel Colour Lasting Gel Liner: Formulated to last for 13 hours, this long-wearing eyeliner is water, sweat and sebum resistant! This smudge-proof eyeliner also features a alser-sharp 2mm brush tip for ultimate precision.
  • Excel Lip Suit: An expertly designed lip crayon with a flat, rectangle body and 10-degree angle for the most foolproof application (use it both as a lip liner and lipstick)! Also formulated with 3 beauty oils (Squalene, Jojoba Seed and Olive) to comfort dry lips, while delivering long-lasting colour. 

3. CRYSTALLINE: Vivid Hues For Day-Offs & Nights-Out

  • Excel Real Clothes Shadow: Excel’s favourite buttery shadows in a new series of vivid hues, now formulated with extra-fine coloured pearls for an incandescent finish. 
  • Skinny Rich Cheek: A creamy powder blush packed with long-lasting pigment and moisturising ingredients. This superbly blendable blusher adds a healthy glow and will never leave your cheeks patchy! 
  • Excel Long & Coloured Lash: Made to give you the longest, most fluttery lashes yet, this water proof and smudge-proof mascara also delivers a subtle flirt of colour. Enhanced with eyelash repairing serum and a super curl fix for an extra boost!
  • Excel Glaze Balm Lip: A melty lip balm that preps and treats your lip (with 4 types of ceramides and Argan Oil) while adding a sleek pop of colour.

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As we enter another phase of a new normal this year, we’re also looking back on, and keeping in mind the quiet heroes who continue the frontline battle against a global pandemic. To see more from the women of The Heroes Edit and hear about their favourite beauty picks, hop over to our Instagram!

We would like to thank Dayana, Estelle, Insyirah, Irene and Pradnya for lending their time and experiences to this campaign.

Take care,

Melisa Goh

Melisa Goh

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