I tried in many stored in US to find a good clear lotion product. Disappointedly, either it's hard to find any or too expensive compare to Asian. Seems there's not much needs of using clear lotion in US, while it takes so much penetration in China, Japan, and Korea.
Lotion or toner, was not popularly used until about 10 years. When we did searches in china in 2000, the lotion usage was less than 20%. Nowadays, the usage rate or say, penetration achieved more than 90%. This is purely a created market leveraging from Japan market.
There are various types of toner products. By appearance, there are clear lotion, translucent lotion or opaque lotion; by function, there are hydrating lotion, astringent lotion, or purely cleansing lotion; as well as the whitening, anti-aging lotions attached to respective product line. In the early years, there’s usually ethanol in lotion to help second clean after wash face, or help shrink pores. But later on, people begin to neglect ethanol lotion as it will brings excess dryness to skin. So lotion turn into more into transparent type simply to provide hydration and little moisturization by glycerin. Afterwards, when consumer’s needs are more segmented, there appeared different appearance, function and package variation. Nowadays, if one consumer uses an anti-aging moisturizer, she will usually use an anti-aging lotion before wards to have some synergy effect.
The most famous lotion product in Asia is SKII Facial Treatment Essence (FTE), the so called magic water. It is has high concentration of Pitera, a claimed ingredients that can help skin cell renewal. Almost all people who used it will immediately fall in love with it. Its non-fragrance and signature smell brings a unique usage feel. And one could really see skin get finer, radiant after few weeks usage. The price of a 75ml FTE costs no less than a bottle moisturizer, at US$60, almost $1 for 1ml. The same for other brands like Shiseido, Kose.
Why Asian consumers are so keen on lotion/toner? From consumer points of view, it immediately hydrate or soothes skin after cleansing; the usage of padding on skin give them a feel of pampering. Therefore, there is a saying of lotion “once to start, you cannot stop”. The unique and delightful sensation is the key drivers that brings up the penetration from 20 to 90% in just 15 years.
However, from skin biophysics stands of point, lotion has its best reason for a good skin function. According to skin biophysics, if the skin is being softened by liquid, it could increase the penetration enter through stratum corneum cell then help for the absorption. A very good clinical method often used to enhance penetration or absorption is occlusive method. It covers the skin and prohibit material from evaporation or lose with the evaporation of water from skin. So, scientifically, to use a lotion is to lay a preparation step for better absorption of moisturizer. That’s why when consumer feel released of dryness, tightness, they can get better skin improvement.
From another angle, a lot of the skin problems comes from lacking of water or lacking of water/oil balance. Clear lotion immediately added water to the skin surface level, that can fundamental helps solve a lot early skin problems, and best released skin uncomfortness. That’s why consumer really likes this products.