I firmly believe you should keep your friends close…and sometimes that calls for some lube. Seriously though, I recently received a request to do a little talking about lubricants and it just so happens this is a favorite topic of mine so I jumped at the chance. Let’s chat a bit about lubricant- why we need it, what our options are, what’s good for what- all that good stuff.
Let’s start at the beginning:
Why do we need to buy lube at all?
Short answer: Because it’s awesome.
Long answer: Several reasons. Feel free to skip to the ones that feel relevant to you, starting with vaginas: While, yes, the vagina is, in theory, a self-lubricating orifice the degrees to which that helps can vary wildly depending on any number of factors including hydration, place in menstrual cycle, stress, environment (seriously, I go through much more lube in the summer, especially if I’m called upon to copulate in an air conditioned room.) and age. Moving on, every time I hear people reference using spit as lubricant for anal sex I die a little inside (Some people are really okay with this idea. I, clearly, am not). Unlike the vagina the rectum provides no lubrication of its own so you’re starting from zero there, what’s more rectal tissue is more fragile than vaginal tissue. Be nice to your ass, use lube. Finally for everything else – it makes just about everything feel better! Awkward with your hands? Add some lube. Want more sensation when
wearing a condom? Put some lube in the tip. Do you like toys? More fun with lube. Seriously.
If you are still not convinced read this fun post from our friends at Chicago’s Early to Bed and try not to flinch at the Slip n’ Slide part. I’ll bet you want some lube now, don’t you?
What are our options?
Water-based lube– Condom compatible, budget friendly, plays well with toys, water-based lube is kind of a jack-of-all trades (except for sex in water, you cannot use water based lube for pool sex) however there is an important distinction to make: Some water based lubes contain glycerin which has functional benefits (less sticky, tastes better) but for many folks folks with vulvas is like buying a yeast infection in a bottle, which sucks. I recommend sticking to glycerin-free water-based lube. The downside to water-based lube is that it can get sticky. This is because it is, well, water based and the water evaporates, this is easily solved. Some folks use a little spray bottle of water or (good news for the saliva enthusiasts I mentioned earlier!) generally spitting on the lube brings it back to life.
Silicone- based lube– Silicone lubes are total work horses. They last a long time, it only takes a little to get the job done, they don’t get sticky, you can use them in water (yesterday someone told me that while she prefers water-based she keeps some silicone in the shower), like their water-based friends they are condom compatible. Also, they are awesome because they stick around for a long time but also, they stick around for a long time so if you can’t grab a shower post-sex you might want to stick with water-based. Many people believe you cannot use silicone lube with a silicone toy because the lube will degrade the toy… that’s not really true if they are both actually silicone. If you are concerned do a patch test on an inconspicuous part of the toy first.
Oil-based lube- So, yeah, oil-based lube exists. We don’t talk about it a whole lot largely because it cannot be used with condoms and, for many of us that make it irrelevant. However, if you find you have issues with ALL other options, AND you are fluid-bonded with your partner AND you don’t mind it costing more and staining stuff, sure, use some oil-based lube. Yeah, I may have some feelings about this.
Update: lest you think it’s just me being cranky about oil-based lube, I wanted to share this comment I received from Searah at Early to Bed:
“I just wanted to add one thing about oil based lubes. Many health care practitioners advise against oil-based lubes in vaginas because they can clog the pores and promote infection. So while some folks do use coconut or olive oil, every nurse or dr I have asked suggests keeping commercial oil-based lube out of vaginas for safety sake.”
Update #2: I got an incredibly helpful rebuttal to my oil based lube crankiness from Lorax of Sex. It gave me a lot more insight into the “why” of oil based lube (I really had no idea) and even addressed the condom issue and how to use it safely. The full text is in the comments below but here are some highlights:
“…oil based lubes might not be good for vaginas, but they are just dandy with butts and penises and toys and for eternal-plumbing masturbation. You’re skipping over an entire demographic and realm of activity here! Anal fisting? Oil based lubes are one of the best-ever things, and you can use nitrile gloves and you’re good to go. Butt toys? Oil lubes eclipse water-bases by far… You can use polyurethane condoms with oil lubes too, so for folk who aren’t engaging in unprotected sexual activities with each other they still have means to use these lubes safely.”
The more you know…
What lube is good for what?
So, when it comes to what’s going to work for you there are a bunch of factors that come into play. Consistency, texture, taste and intended use all matter. Here are some general rules of thumb:
- Check your ingredients! We’ve talked about glycerin but I also want you to look out for parabens. As I mentioned in a previous post, parabens are a source of controversy and there’s a lot conflicting information out there as to what they do. Here’s the most thorough explanation I’ve found. As chemical controversies are best kept away from your genitals I advise just steering clear.
- Don’t use flavored lubes with vaginas as they often contain ingredients like glycerin that can upset the vaginal environment (as it were) and for some, that can lead to yeast infections. There are some glycerin-free ones like this one that many people swear by, but as many of them contain aspartame, I’m still not down with it.
- Use a thick lube for anal sex. Some people feel strongly that it should be silicone but there are some great super-thick water based gels out there.
- No oil-based products (this includes petroleum jelly and the like) with latex or polyisoprene condoms. You can use oil based with nitrile, resin, or polyurethane condoms though.
- Do not use lubricants with numbing agents. Especially for anal penetration. I could rant about this but, once again, I’ll hand it off to Early to Bed –Don’t Numb Your Ass, Please.
Now, the fun part- recommendations! I will say that across the boards, I stand behind Sliquid as a brand- they are awesome and have a wide range of high-quality lubricants, check them out. All of the products listed here are free of glycerin and parabens, because that’s how I roll. Check it out:
I know we’ve heard me talk a lot about Please Cream Lube but, man, do I love this stuff! It’s water-based but it has a small amount of silicone, giving you the best of all worlds- it doesn’t get sticky AND it doesn’t ruin your toys. Not only is this stuff body safe, it’s actually moisturizing. Bonus? It has a slighty sweet taste. I’m considering stockpiling Please Cream before I move away from a Good Vibrations location.
Blossom Organics Natural Moisturizing Lubricant has a great consistency, it’s super gentle and is “pH-balanced as closely as possible to a woman’s own vaginal chemistry”. I know everyone always claims lubes don’t taste like anything, but this one does a really good job of tasting like not much at all.
An important point about Blossom Organics- they are widely commercially available. I have seen them stocked at CVS and Walgreens. I may have put some in a family member’s xmas stocking after seeing it in the Walgreens on Washington Ave in Belleville, NJ. Or somewhere similar…
Sliquid Silver is insanely slick and lasts forever. Seriously, put this stuff on and it’s there until you wash it off with soap and water- it’s in for the long-haul. Marathon sex, shower sex, marathon shower sex, you name it, this stuff can handle it!
Sliquid’s Sassy is my personal recommendation. It’s thick, long-lasting, body-safe and developed with anal use in mind. Good stuff. I do recognize that Sassy suffers from some seriously girly packaging, so….
If you find Sassy’s Barbie Dream Lube packaging off-putting, the awesome folks at Sliquid bring us this extremely similar product that also gets great reviews and is (I shit you not) called Ride Dude Lube. Seriously. Jokes not withstanding, this is a good thick water-based lube.
Oil Based Lube
Tool Shed, $19
We’ve already gone over the fact that I don’t have experience with oil based lubes but Lorax of Sex does and names Elbow Grease as a favorite. I trust their recommendation.
Now, a giveaway…
We’ve covered how much I love Please Cream and now I want to give one of you the chance to love it too. A water-based lube with a little bit of silicone (it’s a hybrid!) it’s creamy and smooth, never gets sticky and has a slightly sweet, unobtrusive taste- I think you’ll like it. Enter below for your chance to win a full-size (8oz) bottle of Please Cream.