For many years, despite being prescribed a lot of retinoids, sulfur treatments like Rosac (?) cream, and Benzaclin (recently), I've found none of these work as well as 10% benzoyl peroxide, which nevertheless isn't that great, period. And it never has been.
I HATE purging, and that's all I did on Retin-A (at any concentration), even when I was on Accutane, the one treatment that's worked for me. It's the reason I'm scared to attempt Epiduo.
I am now in my 20s and notice that any product makes me "purge", including benzoyl peroxide, if if I just use less than a pea-sized amount on the areas I have the most clogged pores. It also discolors my skin, which is almost as bad as the acne.
I've tried one of Jan Marini's glyolic acid lotions and broke out in colorless whiteheads.
I've tried sulfur treatments--De La Cruz, Acnevir's adult acne formula (also with sulfur), pastes with salicylic acid--they seemed so-so at first, when I used them mainly on cysts (and the Acnevir, a milder treatment, on my jaw)--eventually they only served to irritate my skin. Sulfur no longer does anything to shrink my pimples (whiteheads or cysts).
I use salicylic acid astringent and Ivory unscented soap because I've found, ironically, that's the one cleanser that lathers up and removes dirt (for a while) without drying me out the way many acne washes do. I have Mario Badescu's drying lotion and buffering lotion for cysts now--both are hit or miss (and the buffering lotion was great at first, but it's too water to be useful).
Right now I have hormonal cysts, but when I'm not menstruating I have medium-sized follicular pimples on the jawline and clogged pores/blackheads at the hairline. I notice the less acne treatments I use, the more even-toned my skin is--but I want to stop waking up in the morning with new pimples. I try to put a very, very thin amount of BP on my whitehead/cyst prone areas--hairline, jawline, foreheads--and it just seems to encourage more acne.