Babe Savage (right) with her assistant Nikki Thompson at Babe’s Hair Extension and Wig Salon Image Credit: Ahmed Kutty/XPRESS

Abu Dhabi: Her creations adorn the heads of celebrities like John Travolta, Janet Jackson and Beyonce. But for US expat Babe Savage, ultimate gratification comes from providing free wigs to patients who have lost their hair to cancer.

Ever since she moved to Abu Dhabi in 2016, Babe has given away more than 25 customised wigs, all made with natural hair.

Word of mouth

“One of my clients mentioned me to her oncologist. He called and asked if I could provide cheap wigs to a few of his patients as they couldn’t afford the expensive ones.

“I decided to give them any wig or toupee that suited their face (irrespective of the cost). I have encountered cancer from close quarters since my mom had it. I know how much it affects the self-esteem of a woman when she loses her hair,” said Babe who runs Babe’s Hair Extension and Wig Salon on Reem Island, Abu Dhabi.

A certified wig maker from the renowned Vidal Sassoon Cosmetology School, Babe worked as a stylist in the US for 20 years, catering to Hollywood celebrities as well. “My grandmother was a wigmaker back in Florida. Women suffering hair loss were her clients. She taught me the intricacies of weaving natural hair into a mesh and customising it according to the shape of a person’s face,” she said.

When she visited Abu Dhabi in 2014, she felt there was a dearth of professional wig makers. So when her husband was posted to Abu Dhabi, she decided to open a shop which materialised in September last year.

“Word of mouth brought in many clients as I don’t use synthetic wigs and specialise in customisation of wigs and toupees,” she said.

Most of the hair comes from Uzbekistan and India. Each wig takes around three weeks to make and can cost anywhere between Dh900 and Dh8,000.

Finding each other

Two weeks ago, Nikki Thompson, a stage three breast cancer survivor, walked into Babe’s salon. She was a certified cosmetologist from Bel Air Beauty School (US), who had quit working since she was recuperating.

“I went to get a wig for myself as my hair had not grown back. When I talked to Babe an instant connection was made. We both were passionate about hair dressing and had dealt with the brutality of cancer. She signed me in as her assistant,” said Nikki.

“It was like we found each other,” said Babe. “I am teaching wig making and styling to Nikki. We are in talks with a few prominent hospitals to make at least one (free) wig per month for cancer patients. We are also accepting hair donations,” said Babe.