Saturday, August 29, 2015

Grinif Vitamin ACE Moisture line and Grinif O2 Bubble Mask Cleanser

I'll try to keep it short and sweet today, hence the combined review of:

  • Grinif Vitamin ACE Moisture line (we'll take a look at the toner, lotion and cream) 


  • Grinif O2 Bubble Mask Cleanser.

Grinif is a Korean skincare brand, you might call it a niche brand, that specializes in "natural" skincare.
Their website is entirely in Korean, and it's of the not awesome variety that is fully and completely image based. So people like me, who are not going to learn Korean just to be able to read PR spin of cosmetic manufacturers, are sadly out of luck. You can't copy and paste the text into google translate.

Usually, that alone is enough for me to skip such brands and spend my money elsewhere. If a brand doesn't care about its foreign customers, then foreign customers should do the same. Or maybe in case of Grinif, this is a conscious choice to keep the brand "niche" and mysteriously alluring? Don't know and, frankly, after today's review, I'm not going to care.

I found myself with a few Grinif items purely by accident. And yes, I admit, at the same time I was curious about the brand as well.

Grinif's tagline is "Skintherapy by nature" and its products are supposedly made of imported, European ingredients. What? Korean ingredients are not "natural" enough? Or European are more prestigious? Whatever the case, it's supposed to be "natural", because natural sounds trendy. And trendy sells.

We have plain paper boxes to match the natural image, and at least for the products purchased in Japan, there are no leaflets in the boxes.  How very "green" and eco friendly!

Big mistake, in my opinion, because if you're going to sell in foreign markets, and clearly, this is Grinif's intention, as the ingredient lists are also provided in English, please respect your international customers.

Dear Grinif people, the bare minimum of relevant information in a language that non-Korean speakers can understand goes a long way, trust me.
But I guess Grinif was so focused on creating pretty and "green" boxes that the more practical side of things simply slipped the company's honchos minds. Oh well, it happens.

So let's start, shall we?

Grinif O2 (Oxygen) Bubble Mask Cleanser

I like those bubbly "oxygen" cleansers. It's the stuff that takes all the work out of cleansing. You spread it on your face and wait. And then simply rinse off. Done.

This cleanser is supposed to be ideal for sensitive skin. It's supposed to be as soft as whipped egg whites.
You can check out the entire, barely comprehensible, description on Skin18 (no, I am not affiliated with the store), which was evidently copied in its entirety from Cosmetic Love (no, I'm not affiliated), including the same illogical mistakes. Both stores claim that the product is 8-free (meaning free of 8 "hazardous" substances) and later in the description say that it's 5-free.
So which is it? 8-free or 5-free?

The back of the bottle helpfully clarifies that the product is indeed 5-free, meaning free of: parabens, triethanolamine, artificial colors, mineral oil and animal oil(?).

We get 100ml of cleanser in a pretty, white pump bottle.

Grinif is one of those rare Korean companies that list their ingredients according to the international standards following the same ingredient list order as the US, EU and Japan.
How do I know that?
I compared the English list printed on the box with the Japanese list printed on a sticker. They're identical. Usually the Korean list has to be reshuffled to conform to the Japanese labeling laws, which are the same as the laws in the US and Europe.

Grinif O2 Bubble Mask Cleanser ingredients:

I had high hopes for this cleanser.

If you've never used an "oxygen" cleanser, you should definitely try it, if only for the novelty value.

This is how it looks in action:

The upper dot (which, oddly, looks like an oversized sperm cell) is freshly squeezed out of the bottle.
The lower blob is what the upper blob is going to look like after about 20 seconds.

You can wait until all the bubbles disappear, or if you're impatient like me, you can just wash it off when the foam is still in full bloom.
No scrubbing required. Just rinse off.

Grinif O2 Bubble Mask Cleanser is supposed to do double duty as a makeup remover, and the company claims there is no need for double cleansing. Unfortunately, that didn't work for me.
This cleanser was my SECOND cleanser and I used to remove the leftover oily residue from the initial oil cleansing.

And it was wonderful and great and all things awesome exactly three times when I used it.
On the fourth try, the pump broke. Just broke. Something went "poof!" and the pump was no more. You could keep pressing it until the next presidential election in the US and nada.

I had better things to do with my time, so the cleanser went straight into the trash.


Moving on...


Grinif Vitamin ACE Moisture line sounded exactly like what my dry and sensitive skin needed.
Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, moisture. I was sold.

The unfortunate bubble mask on the left... buuuu...

I went ahead and decided to try these three products:

  • Grinif Vitamin ACE Moisture Toner
  • Grinif Vitamin ACE Moisture Lotion


  • Grinif Vitamin ACE H2O Moisture Cream.

Since right after cleansing, we need a toner, let's start this story with this product:
Grinif Vitamin ACE Moisture Toner

Packaged in true Grinif style in the same pretty, quasi-cardboard box. 

Inside we have a white pump bottle with 100ml of toner.

The company claims that:

Sounds wonderful, doesn't it? Betaine, Retinyl Palmitate, fruit extracts, fruit oil, Tocopheryl.

Let's take a closer look at the ingredient list (arranged according to the American, European and Japanese ingredient order).

Grinif Vitamin ACE Moisture Toner ingredients:

Alcohol at number 3, pretty high for a product that claims "Skintherapy by nature".
At number 12 we have Triethanolamine, the very same ingredient that was considered undesirable in Grinif O2 Bubble Mask Cleanser. LOL. 
Sigh. It's not hazardous. It's a pH balancer. 
Sorry, I don't like companies that use such questionable scare tactics.

Here's how the toner behaved on the skin:

See that shiny splotch on the right?
The damn thing didn't want to dry. Stayed sticky and unpleasant to the touch. When it did eventually dry, it left a nasty layer of filmy residue.
This was not moisture. This was "hey, let's seal the skin with this horrid sticky stuff to keep the moisture in".

Unfortunately, as that was not my idea of a moisturizing toner, I gave it to my friend. After a couple of days she sent me a Line message complaining "what is this shit you gave me? Take it back, or I'm going to throw it out."
I took it back but I'm not sure what to do with it. Maybe I can use it on my feet. Or my bum. 


Grinif Vitamin ACE Moisture Lotion

Ahhh... Grinif uses the word "lotion" in its western meaning here. This is a light moisturizer, not a Japanese style lotion (which then would be a toner).

Again, the same Grinify packaging.

In a different light the box can appear quite drab and dark.

Again, a white pump bottle (bonus points for hygiene) with 100ml of product.

Again, the same claims as with Grinif Vitamin ACE Moisture Toner.
And what do the ingredient list (American ingredient order style) says?
Let's check.

Grinif Vitamin ACE Moisture Lotion ingredients:

Mineral Oil at number 3, so if you don't like that in your skincare, this is not a product for you.

Retinyl Palmitate (which is a form of vitamin A) is at the very end of the list, so how effective is it in this formulation? I'm guessing not very.

And now for the swatches:

Grinif Vitamin ACE Moisture Lotion was, without a doubt, one of the most disgusting skincare products I've ever had the misfortune of using.

It leaves a heavy, sticky, filmy layer on the skin.
It smells awful. Do you know those cheap drugstore imitations of high-end perfumes? This is just like that. Like a cheap and overpowering version of Dior Addict. Dis. Gus. Ting.

And now, the final piece of today's Grinif puzzle.

Grinif Vitamin ACE H2O Moisture Cream.

Inside this simple box we have a white plastic jar with 50ml of cream.

The jar states that it contains anti-wrinkle ingredients, as well as Adenosine.

Ok, let's take a look at the ingredient list (American, European and Japanese ingredient order).

Grinif Vitamin ACE H2O Moisture Cream ingredients:

Yes, I was laughing, too. Adenosine is listed third from the end. 

The insides of the jar are protected by an inner plastic cover.

And under the cover?
This unholy mess:

I don't know if this is just my cream. Maybe it was stored improperly? Or the heat of Japan's summer got to it?

No idea.

The gluey substance inside can't be called "cream".
Searching on the internet, I saw Grinif's pretty promo photos, where the cream appears as light and soft as freshly whipped cream. 

The cream in other people's photos didn't looked freshly whipped at all. It resembled my gooey substance, but still within commonly accepted skincare limits.

I was brave and decided to swipe it on my skin anyway.

Greasy and sticky? Yes and yes. On the right you can see the sticky sheen this cream left behind. 
Gross! Yuck!!!

I have a skin moisture meter, but decided that Grinif Vitamin ACE Moisture line wasn't worthy enough to use it.

There is also a serum in this line, but mercifully, I was spared that experience.

Final thoughts:

This entire line is garbage. Total garbage. Nicely packaged, overpriced garbage.
If you have cash to burn you can purchase your own Grinif garbage at Skin 18, or Cosmetic Love, or ebay. But if you have that much cash to burn, I have a better idea. Send it to me. It will be much appreciated. 

I still have one more Grinif product to try and I'm honestly dreading it. I need a break from Grinif. I need to scrub this horrible experience from my skin and my memory.

I had been trying to use these things (because I don't want to call them "cosmetics") for three weeks. That was enough for me.

This post contains ZERO affiliate links and all products were purchased by me. Yeah, what was I thinking... Not much, apparently.

PS> Sorry, I lied, it wasn't short, and definitely not sweet.


  1. Whoa, I'm so sorry that none of these worked out for you! Thanks for taking the initiative to buy an unreviewed brand... Yeah I really don't find them alluring after your review.

    1. I found some reviews on Korean blogs and the girls were loving this line. Makes me now wonder if those were all sponsored reviews. Or maybe their expectations were really THAT low? Who know...
      The cleanser was great while the pump worked. But somehow I have no desire to look for a fully functional specimen.

  2. Replies
    1. Taaa... niestety na ladnych opakowaniach ta historia sie konczy,

  3. I do love your take downs! Pity about the bubble cleanser because it looks like it would be a lot of fun!

    1. I had high hopes for this cleanser, and though it was stickier than the other bubble cleansers I have, it was pleasant enough. Too bad the pump died :(

  4. Oh my god!! That cleanser had Sodium Lauryl Sulfate as its second ingredient!! >_< That is terrible for your skin barrier, I've heard. Thanks for the review and the great writing! Sorry the products were so bad (−_−;)

    1. You've heard? Have you actually checked the studies? Yes, it's terrible for your skin barrier, the studies did prove it, when it was kept on the face for 1 hour or longer. Don't know about you, but it doesn't take me that long to wash my face.
      FYI, SLS is a common surfactant and found in thousands of skincare products. Even in these kbeauty favorites:
      and, hot damn, even in this lovely sum37 product:

      And notice, that despite SLS being the second ingredient in this Grinif cleanser, the overall product is very nicely pH balanced.

  5. I love how honest you are with your reviews! Thanks for giving the real story behind the products you get to try. :D

  6. Thanks for this review. You just saved me a lot of money! :)


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