Mary Ann Graffeo Passes Away


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.

In 1984, Mary Ann became instrumental in helping to form the Federation of American Esthetics (FAE), an organization combining and uniting three associations: the AIA, CIDESCO, USA, and Skin Care of America.

A year later, Mary Ann met with Ron Renee and Robert Diemer, both of whom were interested in the future of FAE and the American aesthetician. All three agreed that a merger with the NCA would solidify the identity of the American esthetician. In August 1985, the dream became reality when at their national convention; the Federation of American Esthetics unanimously voted to become party of the NCA's newly formed EstheticsAmerica.

A recognized leader in her field, Mary Ann has won many awards and much recognition in her profession.

Graffeo only closed her skin care business on Saturday, June 28. Arrangements are pending and details will be posted when they become available. The entire staff at Skin Inc. magazine extends its deepest sympathies to Graffeo's family and friends.

Much of this biographical information came from


"She was my mentor and taught me everything I know about the skin care industry. I will mourn her loss; she was the most giving, caring, and loving teacher I ever had. She always wanted to teach the wonderful parts about makeup and skin care. My mentor and good friend is up in heaven giving makeup lessons to the angels in heaven! "

Linda LaVelle

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