Here are several things that have helped me. Keep in mind that I might have exited the period of adolescence when acne is worst, so that probably contributed to my skin clearing. However, I do get a break out every time I shave which is pretty annoying... Anyways, here's some things I still do to help:
- Cleaned up my diet. I stopped eating candy, soda, anything with high-fructose corn syrup and any kind of sugar really. I went through a period of no fruit too, but since I've started eating fruit again, my skin is still okay. I also stopped eating greasy foods, butter, and anything with non-healthy fats (keep the olive oil, fish oil, almonds, etc).
- Stopped eating dairy, especially drinking milk. Dairy is definitely not bad for you the same way soda and greasy foods are, but it messes with your skin. I wish I could speak intelligently about why this is, but it would be better if you did some research yourself, instead of me giving you crappy information.
- Stopped popping pimples. As grotesquely satisfying as it is, popping you pimples can result in a whole bunch of bad things. Scarring, further infection, pus seepage... It's just not good. I would say don't pop any unless its one of those white ones that doesn't require pinching too hard.
- Stopped touching my face. Don't touch your face at all. If you're itchy, use your sleeve to itch, or anything not oily. I'm pretty OCD when it comes to this... I won't lean on my arm if I'm wearing a short sleeve shirt haha
- Washed my face often. This is what I would do for washing:
1) wash with face soap right when getting up to get off oil.
2) throughout the day, I would go to the bathroom and wet my face, then take a paper towel and wipe the water off, always wiping down to kind of wipe the oil off (I get a lot of oil on my nose, so I make sure to get there especially). I might do once or twice an hour because I kind of OCD when it comes to my face not feeling oily. I would suggest once every one to two hours, but I'm obviously not an expert.
3) before bed, wash with face soap again and apply 10% benzoyl peroxide to problem areas (areas with pimples AND areas where they usually pop up, whether or not they are there at the moment)
I have been told that washing my face to often will mess up the oil production in pores on my face, increasing the rate that it produces oil because my skin is dry. This seems like sound reasoning to me, but again, I'm sorta OCD about my face not feeling oily, so I go to wash it every hour or so. Keep in mind that I'm just washing it with water, not soap or any cream, so I don't think that it has as great an effect. I don't know if this is true, but the washing my face with water is what I've been doing for a couple years now and during that time my face has cleared.
My face has gotten pretty dry before, especially on the high parts of my cheeks and above my lips on the left and right sides. When these areas would get dry and ashy, I would apply a small amount of non-greasy moisturizer to that area only.
Make sure your hair isn't oily either. If you have long hair, I would seriously think about getting it cut so nothing is over your face, or I guess just keeping it back in a ponytail. Once I got a short haircut (about an inch in length), the acne on my temples and forehead cleared up in a couple weeks.
I didn't buy ProActiv or anything expensive. The 10% benzoyl peroxide is under $10 from any Rite Aid-type store I'm pretty sure.
I hope that helps a bit. I honestly believe that the diet was the biggest factor in my skin clearing up. One more thing: take your fish oil. I don't know if it clears acne up, but fish oil is good for your skin (and the rest of you) nonetheless.