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Lubricants have pros and cons. Water-based ones are good for sensitive skin. Silicone and oil-based ones last longer but can damage toys and condoms. Natural options like olive oil can be used but also come with potential risks.
- Best water-based lube: Blossom Organics Natural Moisturizing Lubricant
- Best silicone-based lube: Wet Platinum Pure Silicone Lubricant
- Best oil-based lube: AH! YES OB Plant-Oil Based Personal Lubricant
- Best natural lube: Aloe Cadabra Personal Lubricant & Moisturizer
When it comes to sex, no matter what you enjoy, you can usually play by the rule: the wetter, the better. This logic works, well, fluidly when it comes to lube, because wetter is exactly what you’re getting.
And if you associate lube with vaginal dryness only, it’s time to step out of the box. Instead, think less friction, smoother skin, and all around better sex — no matter your gender, age, or stage in life.
In fact, according to a 2009 Indiana University study of 2,453 women, participants reported that, more than 70 percent of the time, lube made sex more pleasurable and enjoyable.
Carli Blau, LMSW, a sex and relationship therapist in New York City, confirms that “needing a lubricant does not mean that you’re not interested in your partner.”
So let’s get rid of the idea that lubrication is the only indication of arousal, and let’s start trusting our partner’s words.
Think of lube as encouragement to your bits — or a way to save time, because you were supposed to be out the door 5 minutes ago. Here’s the before-play to foreplay with lube.
We believe pleasure is a fundamental aspect of a safe and healthy sex life. That’s why we rely on experienced writers, educators, and other experts to share their suggestions on everything from the technique you use to the sex toy you buy.
We only recommend something that we genuinely love, so if you see a shop link to a specific product or brand, know that it’s been thoroughly researched — if you know what we mean. Wink.
In this article, we use the following key to note prices:
- $ = under $10
- $$ = $10–$15
- $$$ = over $15
Personal lubricant, or “lube,” is a liquid or gel that’s intended to prevent unwanted friction during sex.
You can use it for many types of sex, including penetrative and anal sex, as well as masturbation. Some types are also safe to use with toys.
You’ll want to think about the different types of lube out there when choosing the one that’s best for you. Lubes come in a variety of bases:
- hybrid (combining a few of the above)
Hybrid lubes are often a combination of both water and silicone. There are many formulations to perfectly suit your needs.
- Price. There are many low cost, safe lube options on the market. We included a number of options at a variety of prices to best fit your budget.
- Base. All lubricants start with a base, like oil, water, or silicone. We made sure to add in an assortment of bases so you can choose the one best fit for your needs.
- Customer rating. Choosing a lube is a highly personal decision, but we still chose options that have high reviews from users.
Best water-based lube
Known as the “versatile” lube, water-based lubes can be used in practically any activity you can think up — even ones involving silicone toys.
This type of lube is most popular for three reasons: It won’t stain your sheets, it’s easy on the skin, and it washes off easily in water.
- versatile option
- safe to use with condoms
- pH balanced
- won’t stain sheets and washes off easily
- some users find it too sticky
- some find it too watery
Best silicone-based lube
If you’ve got really sensitive skin, you’re going to want to try a silicone-based lube, which is like silk sheets on your sensitive parts. Since silicone is hypoallergenic, most people won’t experience a reaction. This type of lube also lasts longer.
If you’re interested in something more long lasting that needs to be reapplied less often, you may have found your match.
When Kathryn, a 27-year-old who’s tried several lube types, experimented with shower sex, she looked into silicone-based lubes.
“It makes the experience much more enjoyable, since the water usually washes everything else away,” she says.
An excellent silicone option is Wet Platinum Pure Silicone Lubricant. This lube is registered with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and made with high grade ingredients.
The only downside? The silicone in your lube can deteriorate the surface of silicone toys. Blau says that when this happens, your toys become less sanitary, because it creates abrasions in the silicone where bacteria can grow.
“If you share sex toys,” she says, “or use them with more than one partner, make sure to use water-based lubricant when playing with toys to ensure your safety.”
On the plus side, silicone-based lubes are safe to use with condoms.
- good for sensitive skin
- longer lasting
- made with high grade ingredients
- safe to use with condoms
- can deteriorate silicone toys
Best oil-based lube
If you’re the type that simply can’t be bothered with reapplying at all once you get going — we get it — this lube is the gift that keeps you going, going, and going.
AH! YES OB Plant-Oil Based Personal Lubricant, for example, is known for its long-lasting properties.
Pro tip: Oil-based lubes can double for sexy and fun massage time. But the downside comes if you’re using a latex condom. It’s not recommended to use oil-based lubes with latex condoms, since it can increase the risk of rips and tears.
And your expensive sheets may be another reason to stay away from oil-based lubes. Oil tends to stain sheets and clothing, and can also be difficult to clean up.
- long lasting
- can double as a massage oil
- can increase the chances of a ripped or torn condom
- associated with higher rates of Candida
- may stain sheets and clothing
Best natural lube
Worried about exactly what ingredients you’re putting down there? Natural lubes have been cropping up in the past couple of years, though there’s a bit of debate as to what “natural lube” really means.
Basically, look for products that have both natural and a small number of ingredients on their list. Aloe Cadabra Personal Lubricant & Moisturizer is a great option, as it consists of 95 percent aloe vera.
Coconut oil is a popular choice as well, though it has downsides. Research from 2014 shows it’s a clinically safe moisturizer. But it can stain your sheets and increase your chance of condom breakage, as oils break down the effectiveness of the latex.
You’ll also want to be careful about cross contamination if you’re not cleaning your hands while dipping them in a jar of coconut oil that’s also used for cooking. When picking up something all-natural to warm up, make sure it’s used just for sex and nothing else.
- vegan and paraben-free
- pH balanced
- can be used with silicone toys
- not as long lasting as other options
- some users find it irritating for sensitive skin
Searching for top health products and services?
We do the work, so you don’t have to. Our evidence-driven reviews and brand comparisons make your search simple to help you live your healthiest life.
|Blossom Organics Natural Moisturizing Lubricant
|Wet Platinum Pure Silicone Lubricant
|AH! YES OB Plant-Oil Based Personal Lubricant
|Aloe Cadabra Personal Lubricant & Moisturizer
|organic aloe barbadensis leaf extract, hyaluronic acid
|propylene glycol, water, dimethicone
|sunflower seed oil, shea butter, sweet almond oil
|organic aloe barbadensis leaf juice, vitamin E oil, xanthan gum
We kid — there’s no “right” way to use lube.
Need it to masturbate? In the mood but your body isn’t getting the message to start lubricating yet? Go ahead and spread… liberally.
Jenny, age 26, can’t naturally produce enough lubrication for sex. She uses lube with her partner during foreplay by rubbing it on their genitals and adding it during sex if she starts to feel uncomfortable.
Kate, a 27-year-old account manager and avid lube user, says that she uses lube 75 percent of the time, either when she’s masturbating or when she’s with a partner.
“Even if I am wet,” Kate says, “it’s still nice to have that little bit of extra help.”
So apply as much as you want, wherever you need it — be it on the vagina, penis, or anus.
After you’ve figured out which lube is best for you, you might want to warm it up in your hands. This isn’t necessary, but lube can be a little cold if you skip this step. If you’re using a condom, don’t forget to apply a non-oil based lube to the outside of it.
No matter if you use condoms, diaphragms, or dental dams, lube can help reduce friction and make sex more pleasurable.
Personal lube can be a great enhancement to your intimate life, but the number of options can be overwhelming. The goal of lube for most is to decrease friction and increase comfort and pleasure, so finding what works for you is a highly personal decision.
When shopping for a lube, you’ll want to consider how you’re going to use it. If you’re going to be using a condom or silicone sex toys, you’ll need to find a compatible option.
Water-based lubes can be a great place to start because they can be used for all your needs and are excellent for people with sensitive skin. Meanwhile, silicone-based options are typically longer lasting, but they can damage silicone-based toys, as they can break down the material over time.
Lastly, oil-based lubes are also longer lasting. But do not use them with latex condoms, because they can cause them to tear or break.
When you go lube shopping, you’re going to find all sorts of options out there: flavored, natural, warming, tingling. These lubes can be fun, but be careful to look at the ingredients and test the pH value of over-the-counter products with litmus strips (like in science class).
A healthy vagina should maintain a pH level of 3.5 to 4.5, so the lube you use should also be around the same level. However, keep in mind that many lubes don’t list the pH level on the packaging, so it may be hard to verify.
Always pay attention to the ingredients listed. In fact, there are a few you may want to avoid because they may cause irritation or inflammation:
- propylene glycol
- chlorhexidine gluconate
Blau also suggests finding one that’s free of parabens, glycerin, and petroleum to minimize the risk of infections. If you’re using condoms and toys, find a lube that’s latex-friendly, rubber-friendly, and plastic-friendly.
Can you use coconut oil as lube?
Yes, coconut oil is generally a safe, natural lube option. It can alleviate friction and vaginal dryness.
However, you’ll want to keep in mind that unrefined coconut oil has less processing and bleaching. You’ll also want to get a fresh jar that is dedicated to sexual play to keep things as clean as possible.
What can I use instead of lube?
You can use several common household items as a lube alternative. These include olive oil, coconut oil, peanut oil, and aloe vera. That being said, some can increase your risk of yeast infections. They can also tear condoms, so you may want to opt for one on our list instead.
Can you use baby oil for lube?
It isn’t recommended. While you can safely use baby oil as a skin moisturizer, do not use it as lube. Mineral oil-based products like baby oil can increase your risk of vaginal infection and can break down latex condoms.
What is lube used for?
The purpose of personal lubricant is to reduce friction and irritation during sexual activity. You can use it during sex with a partner or during masturbation. There are many safe options on the market, depending on what you are looking for.
No matter your reasons for using lube, remember: It’s a simple and fun way to take your sex life to the next level. So go forth, and lube up!
Mariah Adcox is a writer and aspiring pet owner living in New York City. Her work has appeared at WineLibrary.com, Makeup.com, and LendingHome.