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Mary Ann Graffeo, a U.S. and Chicago pioneer of skin care, passed away suddenly last Thursday, July 2, after learning only a few weeks ago of her serious illness. She had worked as a cosmetologist, esthetician, makeup artist, spa owner, salon owner and paramedical makeup expert. She was a past director and officer of Cosmetologists Chicago, past president of Aestheticians International Association, past director of the Illinois Cosmetology Association, past president of the Northwest Hairdressers Association, past director of the Illinois Cosmetology Association and past president of the Northwest Hairdressers Association.
Graffeo was inducted into the National Cosmetology Association's (NCA) Hall of Renown in 2005 in recognition of her more than 43-years of outstanding achievements in the field of esthetics. Her dedication to esthetics resulted in the establishment of NCA’s EstheticsAmerica as a separate entity, as well as the growth of esthetics education in her home state of Illinois. With her influence, Illinois became one of the first to offer esthetics in the continuing education program and she helped galvanize legislation for separate licensing for estheticians.
Mary Ann was born and raised in Chicago and began her career as a hair stylist when she was only 18. In 1962, Mary Ann and her husband opened a beauty supply wholesaling business, J.M. Beauty Supply. As a result of her dedication to education to and association work, Mary Ann soon became a member of the Board of Directors of the ICA on an affiliate level.
In 1971, Mary Ann purchased on of the original Syd Simons Cosmetics studios and was trained in makeup artistry by the master himself, Syd Simon. To further her education in skin care, she flew to Europe to study the European approach to aesthetics. Later she would combine that knowledge with American technology to produce what would develop as an Americanized philosophy of esthetics.
Mary Ann soon became secretary to the State Board of Directors of the Illinois Cosmetologist Association and has worked on the Board for approximately 15 years. She succeeded late as president on an affiliate level in 1976. In 1974, Mary Ann and a group of aestheticians formed an education/networking group in Chicago. The following year, while she was attending advanced classes in skin care in Dallas, Mary Ann met Ron Renee and Erica Miller. At Mary Ann's suggestion, the Chicago group of aestheticians merged with the Aestheticians International Association. Later, because of her commitment to association work, Mary Ann became secretary of the AIA. From 1982-83 she held the position of first vice president, and in 1983, Mary Ann became president of the AIA and held the position until 1984. Mary Ann Graffeo would succeed as the final president of the AIA before merging with the NCA.