Lube is one of those products that a lot of people use but don’t talk about because of the misconceptions and stigma attached to it. “I have heard it all,” says Dr. Draion Burch, a Pittsburgh-based OBGYN and DO. “‘Lube is only for dry vaginas.’ ‘Lube is already in a condom, why do I need more?’ ‘All lube is the same.’ ‘I’m trying to have a baby so lube can’t be used.’ None of those are true.”
We’re getting you started with a guide covering everything you need to know about the slippery stuff. Happy shopping!
Water-based lube: This type of lube is one of the most common, says Claire Cavanah, co-founder of Babeland and co-author of Moregasm: Babeland’s Guide to Mind-Blowing Sex. Water-based lube is easiest to clean up and is compatible with all sex toys and condoms, which is why it’s the most popular. One caveat: water-based lube dries out more quickly than other types, meaning it’s not ideal for sex in the shower or hot tub, and it might not last as long as other types of lube, so you might need to reapply occasionally. Try: Babeland’s Babelube, which is paraben-free, glycerin-free, gluten-free, and perfect for sensitive skin.
Silicone-based lube: “These are slicker, cushier, and last longer,” Cavanagh says. Silicone lubes are compatible with latex condoms and great for marathon, anal, or shower sex; however, they’re also a bit messier than water-based options and can stain your sheets (so maybe lay a towel you don’t care about down first). Cavanagh adds that silicone lubes can also deteriorate silicone-based sex toys, so just be sure to double-check your toys before using with silicone lubes. Try: Trojan Arouses & Intensifies Lubricant. Its long-lasting, unscented formula provides a tingly (in a good way) warming sensation, making it perfect for foreplay with your partner. (It’s also a good option for solo sex, if you’re so inclined.)
Oil-based lube: Oil-based lubes — including vitamin E, coconut oil, or olive oil — weaken latex, so they’re definitely not compatible with latex condoms, though you can use them with lambskin condoms, Dr. Burch says. (Just remember that lambskin condoms don’t protect against STDs/STIs.) They can also be thick (read: messy and hard to clean up) and can increase your risk of vaginal infections, cautions Cavanagh. If you and your partner feel comfortable foregoing condoms, oil-based lubes can be a sexy way to occasionally spice up foreplay or massages, but they’re not ideal for everyday use. Try: Any organic, cold-pressed olive or coconut oil in your kitchen (check the labels first), or Coconu Organic Personal Lubricant, which is USDA-certified organic as well as paraben-, gluten-, and fragrance-free. Bonus: It’s also completely edible.
Hybrid lube: Hybrids are a magical mix of water- and silicone-based lubes and have the “easy wash-up properties of water with the staying power of silicone,” according to Cavanagh. Because they’re mostly made up of water and then blended with a small amount of silicone, hybrid lubes provide a long-lasting, luxurious, silky feel that’s perfect for solo or partner sex, and are generally compatible with silicone-based toys. Try: Sliquid Naturals Silk Hybrid Lube, which is specially formulated for sensitive skin.
Flavored lube: Great for oral play, most flavored lubes are water-based, and flavors run the gamut from pink lemonade to mojito to caramel apple. It might take some trial and error to find your favorite one, but who’s complaining? Try: Sliquid Pink Lemonade.
Eco-friendly lube: If living a green life is important to you — or you’re wary of sticking ingredients you’d never eat near your genitals — you’re in luck. More and more brands and retailers including Babeland, Good Vibrations, Sustain, Good Clean Love, and Smitten Kitchen all offer a range of organic, eco-friendly, and vegan options. As you would with food, read the labels and be careful of ingredients like parabens (has been linked to breast cancer), glycerin (it can cause yeast infections), or propylene glycol (it’s also found in antifreeze). Try: Aloe Cadabra, which is 95 percent aloe vera and vitamin E, and is certified organic.
Sperm-friendly lube: Some recent research shows that traditional lube might impact the motility of men’s sperm, though other research suggests it might not make a difference. However, if you’d rather be safe than sorry because you’re trying to conceive, you don’t have to avoid lube altogether. Dr. Burch recommends looking for lube that’s specially formulated for couples who are “TTC” (trying to conceive). Most are adjusted for your PH levels and “compatible osmolality,” which is basically a fancy way of saying these lubes match what’s going on in your body naturally so as not to prohibit your guy’s swimmers from getting where they need to go. Try: Astroglide TTC Sperm-Friendly Lubricant.
Lube might be just the thing you need to take your sex life to the next level or to try something new and fun (because above all, sex should be fun). So if you’re new to lube, welcome to the club.