Clear lotion, despite its name, is not always a transparent skin care product. Instead, it is an umbrella term for many different kinds of lotions used to condition the skin. The term "clear lotion" seems to be shorthand for the term "clear skin lotion." It may also be marketed under the term "clarifying lotion."
Clear lotions are often marketed as multi-purpose facial lotions. They can contain astringents and skin whiteners or be designed to help fight acne. Before choosing a clear lotion, it is best to educate yourself about the contents and purpose of the product.
Some kinds of clear lotions are marketed toward acne suffers. Many of these products contain Retin A, a chemical compound that helps clear up mild acne. Retin A breaks down the first layer of skin, encouraging growth of new cells for a freshened appearance. Some acne lotions also contain exfoliants, microscopic pellets that abrade the skin and help to remove dead skin cells.
Clear lotion can also contain toners. "Toner" is an umbrella term for various oils, moisturizers, and chemical extracts that have different effects on your skin. Astringents, several of which are alcohol-based, dry out oily skin and tighten pores. Fresheners are gentler astringents, such as caffeine or green tea. The confusingly-named "traditional toners", by contrast, simply moisturize the skin.
Some clear lotions also contain skin whiteners. The lotion may be designed to even out a splotchy complexion or to lighten the overall color of the skin. The use of these skin compounds is controversial, and few to none of the skin whiteners currently on the market have been proven effective.
Like many cosmetics, there is a specific method for applying clear lotion for best results. Ideally, before it is applied, the skin should be clean and dry. To increase its effectiveness, it is recommended that the lotion first be applied to the "T-zone", the area of the face formed by the nose and forehead, followed by the cheeks and neck. Depending on the effects they have on the skin, some lotions are designed to simply be applied. Others should be wiped off after a short period and followed with a moisturizer.
There are a few other products that contain the term "clear lotion" in their name. Not all of these are designed for humans. For example, clear lotion is meant to be used on the ears of cats and dogs to kill fleas.