Personal lubricants typically have a decadent, gel-like consistency and are used to moisturize in intimate situations. For some types of sex — anal for example — lube is absolutely imperative. It can also be extremely important to apply it when using sex toys or even just getting penetrated.
There’s a myth that if you’re not producing enough lubricant on your own, you’re not turned on enough by your partner. This is completely false and shouldn’t stop you from making your sex that much more enjoyable.
Have you ever heard someone say they were too lubricated? No — exactly. You should feel excited and empowered to use lube no matter your age, gender, or preference.
What Are the Different Types of Personal Lubricant?
The significant difference among lubricants is what they’re made of. The best and most common options for different scenarios are:
Silicone-based lubricants are great because they’re the longest-lasting. You’ll likely need to reapply silicone-based lube much less than other types. It’s also water-resistant, and you can use it in the shower.
Aside from how silky smooth it feels, people love silicone lube because it’s hypoallergenic and tends to produce the least amount of skin disturbances of all the lubes. Just be sure not to use it with silicone toys because the silicone in the lube can break down the silicone in your toys over time.
Water-based lubes can be used for a variety of situations. They’re very lightweight and can be used with toys or condoms. They’re not as durable as silicone lubes, but they’re hypoallergenic and very easy to clean up.
Oil-based lubricants are the longest-lasting option — no need for multiple applications (unless you want to). They can also double as a massage oil so you can have a full-body, sensual massage.
The main drawbacks of oil-based lubricants are that they can exacerbate acne and that the oil in them can rip condoms. It’s not the best option for those with sensitive skin.
Natural lubricants are made from ingredients like aloe vera or coconut oil. They can be a great DIY option in a pinch, but be careful. While there might be fewer chemicals, a substance like olive oil is still an oil and can still rip holes in condoms.
Some options are also known to cause yeast infections in women. If you’ve ever wondered if you can use coconut oil as personal lubricant, the answer is yes — but be careful if you’re using condoms, if you have acne-prone skin, or if you’re known to get vaginal infections. If you’ve wondered about using olive oil, the answer is mostly the same.
There are also fusion lubricants like the Tom of Finland Hybrid Lube, which is a hybrid of water and silicone. With a hybrid, you get the benefit of long-lasting silicone lubricants with the easy-to-clean versatility of water-based lube.
Some lubricants produce sensations like numbing or tingling. The Ms. Numb Desensitizing Water-Based Lubricant slightly numbs the skin while lubricating at the same time. While it can be a great tool to move past some minor discomfort, sometimes it’s safest to be able to feel everything.
What Can and Can’t You Use Different Lubricants For?
Silicone lubes are lauded as the best option for most situations. They’re one of the least obtrusive lubes in terms of acne or infection. They last a long time and are waterproof. If you want to have shower sex, anal sex, or regular penetrative sex with or without a condom, silicone lube is great.
Just make sure not to use silicone toys with silicone lube. The lubricant can also be difficult to clean off, and you may need to scrub your body with hot, soapy water after.
Water-based lubricants are also unobtrusive but have a lighter texture than silicone. They tend to evaporate rather quickly, so they aren’t good for longer sessions.
On the upside, they don’t require much effort to clean off. You can use water-based lubricant with any toy or condom. It’s best for shorter masturbation or penetration situations. You can also use it with toys — just continually re-apply it.
If water-based lubricants are best for sprint scenarios, oil-based products are best for marathons.
If you know you’ll be having sex or pleasuring yourself for a long time, use oil-based lubes. They can be best for intercourse or anal sex with or without toys.
However, oil tends to stain sheets, break condoms, and give some women vaginal infections, so keep that in mind when using it.
How To Properly Apply Personal Lubricant?
It’s important to know that lube is designed to cool down the skin — this is partially how lubricants help alleviate friction during sex. Because it has this cooling effect, it can be a bit of a downer to whip out the lube in a rush of passion. If you know you want to use it, you and your partner should incorporate it into your foreplay.
Start by warming up the lube in your hands before application. Then, using the lube in a different part of your (or your partner’s) body, rub it all around so you can get used to it. As things heat up, you can apply it more intentionally.
As you use lube more and more, you’ll understand exactly how much to use. However, think of it like you should apply a squirt to each surface involved in the sexual act beforehand. For example, if you’re having anal sex, apply a large dollop to the recipient’s body. Then apply lots of lube to the toy or penis that will be inserted. Apply more as needed.
What Are the Best Ingredients To Look Out For?
Look for a lube that helps you with your needs safely. Typically, the best lubes last a long time, don’t break down toys or condoms, don’t produce a reaction from your body, and are easy to clean up. However, there’s no “best personal lubricant ever” because it’s subjective.
What Ingredients Should You Avoid?
For people with vaginas, you should be wary of any lube that can mess with your pH balance. Glycerin is a major pH destabilizing agent. Other ingredients to avoid if you have a vagina include parabens and petroleum.
What Should I Do If I Run Out of Lube?
If you run out of lube, you can sometimes make do with everyday oils or creams. Just remember to look at the main ingredients.
Coconut oil can be used, but remember that it’s an oil, so it has some of the drawbacks of oil-based lube. It can cause vaginal infections more readily than other types of lube as well as break condoms.
Vaseline can be used as a personal lubricant, but it has a petroleum base and thus can introduce bacteria to sensitive parts and lead to infection. Baby oil is also petroleum-based, so it has similar drawbacks.
It’s always best to use an actual lubricant. Lube is designed with your needs in mind, while some of these other substances come with potentially painful drawbacks.
The Final Word
There’s no reason not to use a lubricant. Whatever your needs are, there’s sure to be a lube out there that can help you enjoy sex for a longer time.
How to Choose the Best Lube for Your Sex Life. Healthline (August 2020).
Can I Use Olive Oil as Lube? Healthline (October 2019).
Can I Use Vaseline as Lube? Healthline (2019).
Everything You Need to Know About Vaginal Lubricants. Healthline (October 2019).
Do It Yourself (DIY) Lube. Teen Health Source (2020)