Whether you’re masturbating or playing with a partner, lube is a quick, easy way to make things slick in a hurry. It reduces friction and can even prevent tiny tears in tissue that could lead to infections. Lubes are made from a variety of bases, with a range of pros and cons. Everyone’s preferences are different, so here’s what you need to know when shopping for lube.
Water-based lubes are safe to use with condoms (both latex and non-latex) and even silicone toys. These lubes are easy on sensitive skin, wash off in water, and are less heavy than some other lubes, so they won’t stain your sheets or clothes. However, water-based lubes tend to dry out more quickly than others, so it may need to be reapplied, and isn’t ideal for shower sex.
Silicone-based lubes are the best option for extra-sensitive skin, since they’re usually hypoallergenic. These lubes are extra slippery and last longer than water-based lubes, so they don’t need to be reapplied as often. They’re safe to use with condoms, but will break down silicone toys, creating abrasions in the toy’s surface where bacteria can grow. These lubes are safe for use with toys made from materials like glass and metal.
Oil-based lubes last the longest without reapplication, but they come with a more difficult cleanup and tend to stain your sheets. They’re also not safe to use with latex condoms because they increase the risk of tearing by making the latex porous. If you use condoms with a partner, oil-based lubes are best left to activities like masturbation or massage.
There are a variety of natural lubes out there for anyone looking for lubes with relatively few ingredients, or for vegan options. Some are factory-made, while others can be picked up with your weekly groceries. Coconut and olive oil are becoming popular, although, like all oil-based lubes, they’re not safe to use with latex condoms and may stain sheets.
Whatever lube you use, be sure to avoid any containing glycerin, parabens, or petroleum in the ingredients list, as these can increase the risk of infections. If you or a partner are prone to UTIs or skin irritation, stay away from lubes with added gimmicks like warming or cooling sensations, flavors, or scents, as they may contain potential irritants like cinnamon or menthol.
Like plenty of people with vaginas, I used to worry that using lube meant I had failed to get wet enough on my own, but that’s just not true. Lube is a helpful, fun addition to any sexual experience and can take sex to another level. There’s a lube out there for everyone, able to be paired with condoms, toys, or even specific sex acts. Choose one that suits your needs, lube up, and enjoy!
This is a guest post from Jen from PPT. Jen co-hosts the Platonic Pillow Talk podcast with her BFF, Submissive Feminist. She also edits and contributes to SF’s website. You can follow Jen on Twitter @ppt_podcast.