Lubricant is an essential part of sex that is often overlooked due to social stigmas and misinformation. Whether lubrication is naturally produced or comes from a bottle, it serves an important purpose in most sexual activity.
During sex, friction is used to stimulate areas of our bodies that give us pleasure. However, if these areas aren’t properly lubricated, this friction can lead to tiny tears and actually cause pain and/or bleeding. This can happen with any kind of penetration, as well as sex acts using dry hands.
Some people with vaginas produce a lot of natural lubricant and don’t typically need any added lube. However, it’s very common to have some vaginal dryness, even when the person is aroused and relaxed. Dehydration is a common reason for this, but there are a number of factors that go into vaginal dryness. Whatever the cause, lubricant is a very simple solution that can make sex more comfortable and pleasurable.
A lot of people think that if a vagina requires lubricant then the person isn’t into the sex, but that’s a common misconception. Not all people with vaginas will produce enough natural lubricant to make sex comfortable and there is no shame in adding bottled lube to your routine. Not only does it make vaginal sex easier and more pleasurable for most people–it’s also necessary for anal play and some manual stimulation.
Is Lube Always Safe?
There are four main types of lubricant that will be addressed in this guide. While they’re all made with your safety in mind, some lubricants do contain ingredients that can irritate your skin or cause issues during sex. These will be addressed in each section, but as a disclaimer, the following ingredients should be avoided if you have sensitivity issues with lube:
- Chlorhexidine Gluconate
- Propylene Glycol
Water-based lubricants are great. They’re a staple I always recommend you buy first if you’re new to using bottled lube. Water-based lubes can be very thin and watery or thick like a gel, depending on the brand and formula. People’s preferences in this area range so there are lots of options out there for water-based lubes.
I recommend starting off with a water-based lubricant that is hypoallergenic and doesn’t contain the irritants listed above. Sliquid’s H2O is my absolute favorite basic lube, and I own five or six bottles of it because I love it so much. In fact, Sliquid is a great brand that I’d definitely recommend for any of their formulas. They also make a thicker water-based lube called Sassy that is especially formulated for anal play and it works very well for that purpose.
Another great option is Pink Water, which also comes in a Natural formula. Natural formulas are very popular because they contain natural ingredients that can help your body feel good during sex. Aloe, for example, is used in some lubricants and can be very soothing for anal sex in addition to being useful for keeping vaginal pH balances in check. Sliquid’s Sea formula contains seaweed extracts which provide B vitamins, reduce inflammation, and improve elasticity in your skin. This particular formula is also designed to feel almost exactly like natural vaginal lubricant.
Water-based lubes are super important, especially if you you’re looking for something compatible with silicone toys and easy to clean. They’re usually not very expensive and can really bring a lot to your sex life to make things more comfortable for everyone.
Pros: Available in simple formulas, easy to clean off bodies and fabric, natural feel, compatible with sex toys, safe to use with condoms.
Cons: Can dry out quickly, commonly contain irritants.
Silicone-based lubricants are longer-lasting than water-based ones but require a little more clean-up. They’re often much “silkier” than water-based lubes. While some water-based lubes can feel almost tacky on your fingers, silicone ones are usually much thinner, and allow you to slide on skin very easily.
Again, I would highly recommend Sliquid’s silicone lube, Silver. Pink also has a silicone lubricant that’s specially formulated for vaginal use. For those looking for those “natural” lubricants, try Intimate Earth’s Ultra Soft Shiitake, which is made with an anti-inflammatory ingredient to promote sexual health.
Keep in mind with silicone lubes that your body does not absorb the silicone like it does with water-based products. This means the lube will have to eventually be washed off with soap and water. While this is a bit of a hassle, many people find the super slippery and silky feel of silicone lube to be worth the effort. Keep in mind it may also stain clothing or sheets, though!
Because of the silicone in these lubes, it is not recommended to use them with silicone sex toys. These lubricants can cause silicone toys to swell a bit and lose some of the structural integrity of the silicone. It is, however, safe to use silicone lubes with condoms.
Pros: Super silky, doesn’t have to be reapplied as often, safe to use with condoms.
Cons: Shouldn’t be used with silicone toys, requires soap and water for clean-up.
Oil-based lubricants are the extremists of the lube world. On one hand, they offer a silky, slippery feel that doesn’t dry out. On the other hand, they’re very stubborn to clean and can pose a risk if used vaginally.
The idea of “oil-based lubes” includes products not specifically for sex, such as baby oil and coconut oil. The oils in these products all tend to act the same when it comes to using them for sex. For people with vaginas, they are associated with higher rates of bacterial infections. However, for people with penises, they tend to be excellent jack-off aids.
It is very important that you never use oil-based lubes with condoms as oil lubricant can cause condom breakage and put your sexual health at risk.
If you’re interested in using an oil-based product for lube, the cheapest and most convenient thing to do is usually to just use unrefined, virgin coconut oil from the grocery store.
Pros: Super long-lasting, very slick, good for massages.
Cons: Cannot be used with latex condoms, associated with higher rates of vaginal infection.
Hybrid lubes, as you may be able to guess, contain a combination of lubricant types. This is almost always going to be a mix of water and silicone lubricants–possibly with other natural ingredients. A lot of the lubes in this section usually have at least one “natural” element that has been discussed in previous sections.
Using a hybrid lube brings out the best of both worlds and allows for more complex formulas to get the feeling just right for you. If you’re not happy with water or silicone lubes on their own, a hybrid lube might be right for you.
I highly recommend Sliquid’s Silk as a really solid hybrid to try that contains aloe and silicone lube. This blend is silky-smooth, as the name implies, but doesn’t require a lot of reapplication or any extreme clean-up. It’s a bit cloudy in appearance, and has a thicker viscosity than their silicone lube, but is thinner than most water-based gel lubes. You can also try something like the Wet Elite Hybrid, which is a simple water/silicone blend.
Pros: Can have multiple positive attributes from special blends.
Cons: Can still be difficult to clean, not all should be used with silicone toys.
If you’re not sure what will work best for you, I highly suggest purchasing some samples. Being able to try a little bit of various lubes can be a good way to save your money but still find the perfect brand for you. Also check out the lube tube for easy internal application!
Already found your lube soulmate? Let me know what brands you like best and why!
This post was sponsored by Indigo Honey but all writing and opinions are my own.