I've had some acne issues this past year and these are the kinds of stuff that's helping: witch hazel, apple cider vinegar, baking soda, tea tree oil, Cetaphil gentle cleanser, and green tea.
As Alkenny said, witch hazel is great for astringent and does a great job. You can also dilute apple cider vinegar (1/2 water, 1/2 apple cider vinegar) as an astringent and skin deep-cleaner (after you've washed your face). I've had better luck with the apple cider vinegar to even out the tone of my skin. Apple Cider Vinegar acts a lot like alpha hydroxy acid - it keeps your face looking young by removing old cells, evening out your complexion, and it kills acne bacteria too.
It's been researched that green tea is great for acne too, both topically and internally. You can drink green tea to rid the body of toxins, extra estrogens, and flush the liver in general to help with clearer skin. When you're done with drinking the tea, save the tea bag and squeeze the liquid out on a cotton ball and swab your face with it. Green tea has been as effective as 4% Benzoyl Peroxide, without the nasty effects (drying, peeling, wrinkling). Green tea is also anti-aging, anti-wrinkling. Lots of good stuff in green tea! http://davidhayden.com/blog/dave/arc...8/17/2433.aspx
I have been using baking soda as a mild exfoliant and even as a face mask at times (make a paste and let it dry into this hard plaster on your face, then wash off). It helps with blackheads, whiteheads, and with general oiliness. It smooths out your skin as well. If you make a paste of it with water and pack it on a pimple, it'll dry it out. I've used baking soda by itself in a paste with water, or I mix a little baking soda with Cetaphil gentle cleanser (the one that you can use on babiesand can be used with or without water ), and that's been a real treat to wash my face with at night. I haven't had any open pimples, but I hear that if you have lesions on your face, baking soda can sting. I don't have open wounds, so I don't feel a thing. Just rub the baking soda mixture in circles all over your face and don't 'force' the baking soda.
Tea tree oil is good for clearing up acne. You have to dilute it or else it burns or dries your skin out. You can put a drop of the tea tree oil (found at health food stores or even at Walmart) into your Cetaphil and wash your face with that - or - you can moisten a cotton ball with some water and put a drop of tea tree oil on the cotton ball and swab your face with that. Don't rinse and keep it on all night. The smell is rather like Pine-Sol, but it's natural. I would use the Tea Tree Oil sparingly.
Some natural do-nots: Do not get Tea tree oil into your eyes or ingest it. Do NOT use hydrogen peroxide. It works on acne really well, but it has recently been slammed for creating free-radicals on your skin, which in turn, wrinkle and damage your skin. Not worth it.
I went on the ProActiv website at some point, and there are some other links for people who use Benzoyl peroxide. There is a common method to both sites that I have found helpful in fighting acne:
1) Wash face thoroughly - (Use your favorite cleanser or Cetaphil)
2) Exfoliate - (Use the baking soda - you can just mix it in with water or Cetaphil)
3) Tone - (Use apple cider vinegar, green tea, or sometimes Tea Tree oil)
4) Moisturize - use a lightweight facial moisturizer. My favorite is Oil of Olay Sensitive with sunscreen.
I usually do the above regimen everyday with the 'facial' of cleaning my face with Cetaphil and baking soda, then toning with apple cider vinegar, and then moisturizing a little. I've had luck keeping the stress and hormone related acne down recently with that. I swear, if you keep up that regimen - you'll have young-looking skin forever! The trick is gentle exfoliation without tugging the skin or using harsh abrasives, and moisturizing.
Drink plenty of herbal teas and water too.
These remedies are cheap and natural. I hope you have success with some of them!