Witch hazel extract, pulled from the leaves and bark of the plant of the same name, has been lauded for its skin-cleaning benefits for hundreds of years. It is rich in a chemical called tannin, which possesses natural astringent properties, making witch hazel a formidable toner for many different skin types.

Applied topically after your skin-cleansing routine, it serves as an astringent that clears out your pores and eliminates excess dirt, oil and buildup. It has both antibacterial and antiseptic properties, so it can reduce oil buildup in the pores that may result in blackheads and blemishes. Witch hazel may be an especially effective toner for sensitive skin, which likely does not respond well to alcohol-based toners.

In general, witch hazel is gentle and instances of irritation are uncommon. However, skin irritation is always possible when a toner is applied topically, even witch hazel, so always do a patch test before trying it out. Additionally, the effects of topical witch hazel and its impact on women who are pregnant and breastfeeding haven’t been fully researched, so these women may opt against using witch hazel to be safe.

After cleansing your skin, soak a cotton pad or cotton ball in witch hazel and gently sweep it across clean skin. This will help to wipe away any excess dirt or buildup and soak up any remaining oil that can clog your pores.