What is now coming to the surface is that the long term effect of Proactive may cause rosacea and premature aging of the skin due to the stripping of natural oils on the surface of the skin. Some of my clients who were using Proactive, what I saw was a very dry and flacking skin. Yes it does get rid of acne, but it dehydrates and removes the skin's natural amount of oils. Use with causion...
Salicylic acid works very well for acne prone skin and clogged pores. If you only have light acne problems you could try weekly salicylic or lactic acid peels, and perhaps a cleanser with salicylic acid. It is not half has drying as Proactive. Either of the alfa hydroxy acids (glycolic, lactic...) will even help hydrate skin.
Benzoyl peroxide can be very harsh on the skin, especially longterm. It releases single oxygen molecules which both is drying, very desinfecting and works fast. The disadvantage is that these single oxygen molecules are what all other types of skin care is targeted to both prevent and protect against. Too much salicylic products is also drying, but in the right amounts it is very safe. Proactive combines these two ingrediets in their products. If you find that you need and extra desinfectant in the fight against brake outs, you could try, tea trea oil, propolis in stead. There are mixtures of essential oils especially made for targeting developing and active pimples.
If you prefer benzoyl peroxide, you can reduce use of it to local treatment of spots. I don't use it my self; the weekly peels and a bit of salicyic acid in my cleanser keeps my skin clear.
It is easy to use too harsh peels in the beginning, and too drying product. This will cause flaky dry skin. All ways go for comfortable soft skin. After an acid peel skin should only be slightly red for an hour or half, not for the rest of the day. Use a good moisturizer ever day.