When I was working at the adult store, one of the most appalling things I heard one man say to another came from a best man to a nervous groom. The groom was standing in front of my lubricant shelves with a couple of bottles in his hands, fretting over different flavors. His buddy, as well-intentioned as a good friend can be, assured him, “Listen, you’re young. If you’re doing it right, you don’t need lubricant.”
I didn’t usually interrupt a customer, but I had to stop that guy right there. There are a lot of reasons why you might use personal lubricant during sex, and needing lube does NOT mean you are doing anything wrong. In fact, I think that deciding to purchase lube means you’re well on your way to doing something incredibly right. I validated this nervous groom’s concern, and did my best not to take a scolding tone with his little friend.
There are lots of reasons to use lube during sex! Perhaps you’re both a little intoxicated from wine at dinner, which can affect the way the body produces lubrication. Maybe you’ve undergone chemotherapy treatments, which can drastically reduce the amount of natural lubricant produced by the vagina. Maybe you’re ready to experiment with anal! If that’s the case, you’ll want lube because the anus does not produce its own lubricant. Furthermore, extra lubrication is a vital tool that can help reduce the risk of STI’s, because lubricated orifices are less likely to incur microscopic tears (yeah, not a very sexy sentence, but it’s one Hep B probably doesn’t want you to hear!) Whatever the case, there’s certainly no shame in using lubricant, and only endless possibilities to be found in what you can accomplish when everything is a little bit wetter!
But there are so many kinds! Brands upon brands, with minimal packaging, with sparkly packaging, promising individual sensations for each partner, guaranteeing they’re only made with natural ingredients. What is the difference between these many little bottles? And how do you decide which one (or two!) is right for you?
There are three main materials out there. I’ll tell you about water-based, silicone-based, and oil-based, and what each is best used for, and I hope that can help you make a more informed decision for you and your lover(s).
Splish Splash: Water-Based Lube
Water is as essential as it is abundant on our beautiful planet. It even makes up most of our bodies, which is why water-based lubricant is such an easy material to fall back on. Of all the materials, water-based lubricant is the least likely to cause an allergic reaction, and the most versatile in how it can be used. Water-based lube will not melt your silicone toys or stain your nice bedsheets. It is easier to clean off a hard floor than silicone-based lube (so I’ve heard).
The downside of water-based lubricant is that it loses its slip faster than any other material. A few brands have engineered their product in a way that makes their formula a little thicker, extending its use, but when you use water-based lubricant, you understand than you might need more before you’re quite done, and it’s perfectly okay to reach for the bedside table a second time.
Water-based lube is ideal for solo play, partner play, vaginal play, anal play, oral play, manual play… the possibilities are endless with water-based lube. Just make sure you bring plenty of it along on your sexy adventures.
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Lube of the Future: Silicone-Based Lube
When normal slip won’t do, reach for the silicone lube. Silicone is a synthetic material that is indeed very safe for your nether-regions, and truly idea for anal play. Unlike water, it cannot be absorbed by the skin, meaning its effects last longer. That said, you will be feeling it when you wipe for at least a day after.
You will want to make sure you don’t get it on your sheets or any clothing you care about. You must also keep it away from your silicone toys, because they will melt. You read that correctly! Silicone lubricant will erode the surface of your silicone toys and you will be very sad and out whatever you paid for your very nice toy. Just use water-based with those and spare yourself the heartache.
Silicone lubricant is best for those who need as much slip as possible, and anal play. It tastes terrible, don’t like it unless you somehow find a flavored variety, but I doubt you will.
Not Just for Engines: Oil-Based Lube
While not nearly as popular as the other materials, oil-based lubricant still plays an important role in the world of gettin’ it on. This lube will definitely stain your sheets so pull the ones you’re not fond of out of the linen closet, and you might wanna do that anyway, because oil-based lubricant really shines when it’s used for anal fisting. It doesn’t lose its slip and generally has a pleasant smell, which makes it an ideal option for this niche activity.
Oil-based lube will destroy your toys, do not use it with them. It will also greatly disturb the pH balance in vaginas, so I can’t say I recommend using it for vaginal sex of any kind. Its purpose is specific, but it does what its best at so well.
Bells and Whistles: Flavors, Tingling Sensations… Yeast Infections
I’m gonna level with ya– that “his and hers” tingling lube you got at the grocery store? It’s garbage. Toss it. Don’t even ask her about it. I’m of the firm opinion that LUBRICANT does not need anything inside it that is going to tingle. If you want a tingling sensation, there are separate products with special ingredients for this. There’s simply no way to be specific about where you experience the sensation when your whole bottle of lube has tingling ingredients, and that sensation could be magic on a clit, but uncomfortable to use internally. Your bits are simply too sensitive to trust a grocery store brand to put anything tingly in stuff you put on them. I have a variety of other sensation play ideas for you that don’t involve a potential yeast infection, or possible triggering of an HSV outbreak. Just skip it.
Flavored lubricant is a great idea and I’d love to kiss whoever thought of it on the area where one applies flavored lube. Just be sure, when choosing your flavored lubricant, that the ingredients involve natural sweeteners that are not sugar, especially if it’s going to be used on a vulva. Vaginas hate sugar; it’s why (men) say Megan Thee Stallion tastes like sugar, but ain’t shit sweet. Glycerin is just sugar in disguise, and if you’re trying to avoid pork products for dietary or religious reasons, glycerin is derived from bones that may or may not come from pigs. There’s better ingredients! Skip the Glyc!
There you have it. I hope this brief overview of lubes and what composes them helps you make informed decisions about what you put between your and your partner’s legs. Go forth and have slippery funtimes, and perhaps think of me while you do it.
Have fun and happy loving!