Lube can be a really great addition to sex stuff.
Lube is fun and exciting, but it’s also actually functional since it can help prevent little tears in the tissue that could lead to infection, Dr. Jennifer Berman, urologist and female sexual health expert, tells BuzzFeed Health. So even if you’ve never used lube before, it can’t hurt to try it — especially if you’ve had any issues with dryness or discomfort in the past.
BUT it’s important to use the right stuff, which might take some trial and error.
Just as people have allergies or sensitivities to ingredients in skincare products, the same goes for lube and your genitals, says Berman.
Generally, more ingredients will mean more irritation to someone with sensitivities or allergies, says Berman. So if you know you’re prone to infections or rashes, stick with the simple stuff and test a tiny amount on your arm or stomach before using it on your genitals — just in case. If you develop any itching, burning, pain, or other irregular symptoms, stop using it immediately and seek medical care if the reaction gets worse.
There are three main kinds of lube: Water-based, oil-based, and silicone-based.
Water-based: Water is the main ingredient which makes it soothing and great for sensitive skin, plus it’s easy to clean off your body and sheets. Water-based lubes are compatible with all sex toys, but they’re not great for the shower/bath (since they wash right off) and they’re not very long-lasting.
Silicone-based: Silicone lubes have a unique silky feel and they’re usually hypoallergenic. Since the silicone molecules are too large to absorb into skin, the lube is super slippery and lasts much longer so you don’t need to re-apply as often — and it works for water play. But silicone lube will actually ruin silicone sex toys, because it breaks down the surface and makes the toys gummy and gross.
Oil-based: Oil-based lubes feel great and you can find them in your kitchen (coconut and olive oil work great). However, they’re not safe to use with condoms because they make the latex porous so it’s prone to ripping, which increases the risk of pregnancy or STIs. While it’s good for masturbation and massage, it’s also oil, so it’ll be hard to clean and it can stain sheets or clothing.
So let’s get to some lubes! We asked the experts for their best picks for every type of sex. Here are their suggestions:
FYI: We talked to Dr. Jennifer Berman, urologist and female sexual health expert; Claire Cavanah, co-founder of woman-friendly sex shop chain Babeland; and Dr. Mary-Jane Minkin, clinical professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Yale School of Medicine.
The experts say that simple water- and silicone-based lubes are best. “Vaginal tissue is extremely sensitive, so anything hypoallergenic is great, especially if you’re prone to irritation or UTIs,” says Minkin. So stay away from scents, flavors, or hot/cold sensations lubes with menthol or cinnamon unless you know it doesn’t bother you.
Definitely avoid synthetic oil or petroleum-based products like Vaseline, says Berman. They don’t really work and they get super sticky because petroleum isn’t water-soluble. “It’s like a petri dish for bacteria and microbes to grow and cause infection,” says Berman. Natural oil (coconut, olive, jojoba) isn’t a bad option, but it can be hard to clean off, and you can’t use it with condoms.
It’s great for vaginal sex because it’s non-irritating and doesn’t get sticky — which also makes clean up a breeze.”We love it because it works on all toys, and it’s free of glycerin, a sugar compound,” Cavanah says. But since it’s water-soluble, you probably don’t want to use it in the bath or shower because it’ll dissolve quickly.
Buy it here in a variety of sizes from $.50 to $15.
The super slippery high-grade silicone in Wet Platinum is great for long-lasting sex without needing to reapply constantly and it’s perfect for water play in the shower or bath. It’s also safe to use with any plastic, glass, or metal sex toys but you should wash it off shortly after. Don’t use it with silicone sex toys, though.
Buy it on Amazon for $9.99 or purchase at Walgreens, Wal-Mart, or CVS.
Replens is a silicone-based lube made to combat vaginal dryness, so it’s great for vaginal sex and it also moisturizes the vaginal tissue. Just keep it away from your silicone sex toys.
Buy it here for $15.17 on Amazon.
This lube is organic and aloe-based so it’s great for super sensitive skin and it won’t leave behind a sticky mess. It’s safe on all sex toys and it has a touch of organic lemon and vanilla so it smells great too without the harsh chemical additives. But since it’s water-based, this will dry out faster so it isn’t great for marathon sex or water-play.
Buy it here for $14.99 or purchase at Target, Wal-Mart, or CVS.
This is a water-based formula that’s also pH-balanced. “The vagina is an acidic place, so it’s good to use a lube that helps maintain that pH and prevent it from getting too alkaline, which can lead to vaginitis or yeast and urinary tract infections,” Berman says.
Buy it on Amazon for $7.28 or purchase at CVS, Wal-Mart, or the Vitamin Shoppe.
There are only three ingredients in this classic formula, which makes it a great option if you’re new to lube and it has high-grade silicone so it lasts forever. Plus, the leak-proof pump bottle is perfect if you’re fumbling around in the dark.
Available in different sizes from $5 to $16 on Amazon or purchase at your local CVS, Walgreens, or Wal-Mart.
This water-based lube works with condoms and all kinds of sex toys. It’s a moisturizing formula made with aloe and free of glycerin or fragrance, so it’s perfect for sensitive skin — especially when there’s friction between larger sex toys and the delicate vaginal tissue.
Buy it here for $13.
Fun fact: When it comes to baby-making, almost all lubes inhibit sperm motility in the vagina. “Pre-seed is the only lubricant proven in clinical trials to not inhibit sperm motility so it’s great if you’re trying to conceive,” says Minkin. (It doesn’t enhance sperm motility, it just doesn’t mess with it.) It also has plant-based antioxidants and it’s a good moisturizing option if you’re dry.
Buy it on Amazon for $18.04 or purchase at CVS and other retailers.
Foria is a unique new lubricant made from pharmaceutical grade, pesticide-free marijuana plants. Each 10 ml bottle has 150 mg THC (~15 servings) but it doesn’t actually get you high or have any psycho-active effects on the brain. Once absorbed, the THC helps to relax the vagina’s smooth muscle and relieve pain, says Berman. The cannabis and coconut oil base makes it great for massages and foreplay as well, but that also means Foria isn’t safe to use with latex condoms.
Buy it here for $38.
Note: Foria is currently only available for purchase by California residents with a valid medical marijuana card.
Even though the experts agree that everyone should embrace their natural smell and taste, flavored lubes can be a fun and delicious addition, too. Most flavored options are water-based since it’s safer to swallow, says Cavanah. Whereas silicone can leave your mouth all slippery and oil can leave a gross sticky residue.
Since you may be ingesting a little of the lube when you use it, there are even vegan and kosher options to compliment everyone’s dietary restrictions. However, any flavored lubes with actual sugar or sugar compounds can alter the vagina’s pH and potentially lead to infections, so you probably want to skip those for cunnilingus.
Sliquid is 100% vegan and pH balanced, so it’s typically safe for all. That said, it does contain an artificial sweetener, so maybe steer clear if you’re very sensitive to irritation.
Buy it here for $12 in a variety of flavors. Or buy it from Babeland in Cavanah’s favorite flavor, Pink Lemonade, and 10% of proceeds will go to Young Survival Coalition, which helps breast cancer survivors.
It’s water-based and sugar-free so it won’t get sticky and gross, which makes it a great option for oral sex and foreplay. But it does contain plant-based glycerin, so you might not want to use it in a vagina that’s prone to yeast infections.
Buy it on Amazon for $7.59 or purchase at Walgreens.
This one’s super light and sweetened with Stevia, so women who are prone to yeast infections should skip it, but it’s penis-friendly. Plus, it tastes just like your favorite Starbucks drink.
Buy it on Amazon for $7.98.
This water-based lubricant is paraben-free and made with plant extracts, so it’s a great all-natural option for oral sex. It won’t get you high, but it is made from hemp so ganja-lovers can rejoice. But it also contains glycerin, so it’s not a great option for vaginas that are prone to yeast infections.
Buy it here for $9.95.
The anus doesn’t lubricate like the vagina, so the important function of lube for anal sex is adding comfort and preventing tears or trauma in the tissue around the anus, says Cavanah.
Both water- and silicone-based lubes are great, but Cavanah says silicone is a better option since it’s super slippery and comfortable, plus you don’t need to reapply it all the time. You should approach oil-based lubes for anal sex like you do for vaginal sex — avoid them if you’re using condoms.
This premium silicone lube is super slippery so it’s great for long-lasting anal or vaginal sex — and a little goes a long way, so you don’t need to reapply. It’s also good for water play and safe with condoms, as well as any glass or metal anal beads.
Buy it on Amazon for $17 or purchase at CVS, Walgreens, or Wal-Mart.
16. Sliquid Sassy
This lube is one of the best for enhancing comfort and reducing friction during anal sex, Cavanah says, and it’s compatible with condoms. It’s a super thick water-based formula so it has a lotion-like cushiony feel even though it’s easy to clean off. It’s also pH balanced so it’s safe for vaginal sex.
Buy it here in a variety of sizes for $12 to $19.
This long-lasting silicone formula is great for anal sex because it won’t dry out and the vitamin E helps moisturize delicate skin. It’s also great for water play and contrary to what the name suggests, there’s no oil in this lube so it’s safe to use with condoms. “It’s also one of the best for male masturbation,” Cavanah says.
Buy it on Amazon for $12 or purchase from CVS and Walgreens.
18. Babelube Silk
This is a hypoallergenic water-based lube with a little bit of silicone and emollient, so it makes a great long-lasting hybrid lube for anal or vaginal sex, and it’s safe with condoms. You can also technically use this one with silicone sex toys if you wash them immediately after (and you’re not using them for a long time).
Buy it here in various sizes from $12 to $16.
This feels silky and doesn’t get tacky even though it’s a super viscous water-based lubricant, says Berman. The thick formula makes it great for anal sex and it’s compatible with condoms and all sex toys.
Buy it on Amazon for $9.09 or purchase at Walgreens.
“Traditional lubes really aren’t meant to be rubbed on the body — water-based lubes dry out easily and silicone molecules are too big to absorb into the skin,” says Berman. So here are some options that are moisturizing and slippery for all the rubbing and touching leading up to sex.
Coconut oil is really best for massage and foreplay because it’s easily absorbed, slick, and smells great. Plus, it has natural antifungal and antibacterial properties so it’s great to use on oily or acne-prone skin. But since it degrades latex, you can’t use with it condoms.
Buy it on Amazon for $10.25 or purchase at your local grocery store.
This lube is hypoallergenic, glycerin-free, and safe to use with condoms so it’s a great option if you want to transition from foreplay to vaginal or anal sex. The liquid silicone formula is super light and has vitamin E so it doubles as a great massage oil and masturbation aid.
Buy it here in a variety of sizes from $1.25 to $18 or purchase from Walgreens.
The wax from this candle is great for massages and it’s actually super nourishing for the skin because it has avocado oil, jojoba, and vitamin E. Basically you light the candle until it’s partially liquid, blow it out, and pour the warm oil onto your skin (or brush it on) and go. It also comes in amazing scents like lychee lime and tobacco sandalwood.
Note This isn’t meant for internal use as a lubricant and it will degrade condoms. The candle is soy-based so it’s also not safe for anyone with a soy allergy.
Buy it here in two sizes from $6 to $16.
This coconut and vegetable oil-based lube is great for masturbation and it’s safe with all toys used during anal sex. Unlike most oil-based lubes, it’s non-staining and washes off skin and fabric.
Note This is not condom compatible and isn’t good for vaginal sex because the vegetable oils can accumulate inside the vagina and attract microbes, which can cause infection.
Buy it on Amazon for $16.46 or purchase at Walgreens.
This 100% vegan oil is glycerin-free and non-toxic, so it’s safe to use all over the body and great for massages and bathing. It’s scented with sage and sandalwood so it feels warming and leaves skin smelling amazing.
Note This isn’t safe to use with condoms during anal or vaginal sex, and even though it’s safe for kissing, you probably don’t want to ingest a lot of it during oral sex.
Available here in various sizes from $10 to $19 or purchase at CVS or Walgreens.
This balm is great for foreplay because it has a warming sensation which is especially arousing for sensitive areas like the nipples, clitoris, or perineum. It’s glycerin-free and vegan so it’s safe for use on the vagina but it’s oil-based so it should stay mostly outside the genitals. Since it’s in a small tin, it’s easy to transport and mess-free. That said, it isn’t compatible with condoms.
Buy it here for $6.
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