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Some people opt for natural lube to avoid applying harsh or potentially unsafe substances to sensitive areas like their vaginal or anal lining.
What counts as a natural lubricant is somewhat open to interpretation. When searching for a lubricant, you might want to avoid certain chemicals and toxins that you also avoid in food, makeup, and hair products.
For example, if you don’t know how to pronounce an ingredient, there’s a chance your body doesn’t quite know how to process it.
Many experts recommend avoiding lubricants that contain parabens, petroleum, and glycerin and other sugars.
If a product has a small number of ingredients and you can pronounce most of them, it’s a good sign that the product is natural.
There’s some debate about whether “natural” also counts as “organic.”
Organic ingredients are generally understood to be free of additives like synthetic chemicals, artificial fertilizers, and hormones.
You might find a lube with an ingredient like coconut oil, which is natural in the sense that it comes from fruit found in nature rather than being created in a lab.
But that coconut oil may not be organic. It could be made from coconuts that are grown and processed using chemicals like pesticides.
If you’re looking specifically for a lube that’s natural and organic, you may want to take the extra step of looking into how the ingredients are sourced.
As natural lube becomes more popular, some companies are creating natural options for you to buy online or over the counter.
Here are some options to consider.
Aloe Cadabra is 95 percent organic aloe vera, which is gentle and soothing for your skin.
It’s also safe to use with condoms and dental dams, so it’s a good choice if you’re trying to prevent pregnancy and protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
Sliquid Organics Natural Lubricating Gel
With only five simple ingredients, this Natural Lubricating Gel is organic, vegan, and hypoallergenic.
It has no taste or smell, so you don’t have to worry about unpalatability or irritants like fragrances.
You can also shop for the water-based option for safe use with condoms.
Good Clean Love Almost Naked
Another vegan option, Almost Naked doesn’t have any parabens, synthetic fragrances, or glycerin. It’s safe to use with latex condoms and toys.
It does have an “almost undetectable” fragrance from lemon and vanilla infusion, so if you want something that’s totally unscented, pass on this one.
YES Organic Lubricant
All YES products are certified organic, using ingredients like aloe vera, sunflower seed oil, and vitamin E oil.
These are oil-based options. Keep in mind that oil-based lube isn’t compatible with latex products, such as condoms, so you’ll want to opt for water-based if you use them.
Sylk Personal Lubricant
Sylk is designed to be super smooth and slippery without leaving any sticky residue.
It’s made from kiwi vine extract, and it doesn’t have any synthetic fragrances or other harsh chemicals.
It’s also water-based, so it’s compatible with latex condoms and toys.
Überlube Luxury Lubricant
Looking for some luxury with your lubricant? Überlube is a luxury brand lube with only four ingredients.
It’s more expensive than the other options, but if you have allergies or you’re prone to irritation, this might be your best bet for avoiding an uncomfortable reaction.
It’s safe for use with latex condoms but not with silicone toys.
There’s a chance you don’t even have to go shopping to get a natural lube — you might already have some options at home.
Some household items might work better for you than others, so read on for your DIY options.
Sweet almond oil
Sweet almond oil moisturizes and soothes sensitive skin.
It smells great and is safe to eat, so it’s a good choice for oral and anal sex.
This oil also has staying power, so you won’t have to worry about reapplying it too often.
One major limit to keep in mind: Almond oil shouldn’t be used with latex condoms. This is true for all oils and oil-based lubes — the oils can cause condoms to break.
If this sounds like a good fit, consider Viva Naturals Sweet Almond Oil.
Virgin coconut oil
Coconut oil is a popular DIY lube choice for good reason.
It’s tasty, it’s great for moisturizing, and your skin will absorb it, so you won’t be left with a mess on your body afterward.
Unrefined, or virgin, coconut oil may be your best bet for an all-natural choice. It’s the least processed form and isn’t bleached like refined coconut oil is.
Be aware that coconut oil can stain your sheets and clothing. You should also avoid using coconut oil with condoms.
If this sounds like the right choice for you, Dr. Bronner’s Organic Virgin Coconut Oil is a popular product.
Getting hungry yet? Avocado oil is another choice that can make the leap from your pantry to your bedroom.
It’s smooth, can last a while, and has no taste or smell, which means it can come in handy for oral play.
When it comes to functionality, though, some people find that avocado oil is not quite as effective as more popular choices like sweet almond and coconut oils.
As with other oils, you shouldn’t use this one if you’re using condoms.
If you want to give it a try, look to La Tourangelle for a quality avocado oil.
If you’ve ever used aloe vera on a sunburn, then you know how soothing it can be.
As a lubricant, aloe vera adds hydration and reduces skin irritation.
Aloe vera is water-based, so unlike the oils, it’s safe to use with condoms.
Just watch out for aloe-based products with added ingredients like alcohol.
If you already love aloe for sun care and want to see how it works as a lube, opt for a pure aloe vera product like Seven Minerals.
Ghee is a type of clarified butter that’s most often used in South Asian cooking.
It’s gaining popularity as an alternative to traditional butter, in part because of its healing properties.
Ghee can moisturize and soothe your skin and provide healthy fatty acids, which makes it a good option for sensitive areas of your body.
It also tastes great, so it’s ideal for oral sex.
It could cause a condom to break, though. And because ghee is a dairy product, it’s probably not the best choice for long-lasting play.
Because ghee is a form of butter that has the milk solids removed, it does not turn rancid as fast as butter and is safe to leave unrefrigerated for a time.
Nevertheless, it is a good idea to wash it off right away, as it could eventually turn rancid on or in body parts where you never want anything to go rancid.
Nagaimo is a type of yam that’s popular in China, Japan, and Vietnam.
It’s known for its slippery, slimy texture, a quality that can reduce friction and irritation if you use it as lube.
You’ll probably need to mix it with something else, like coconut oil, to get enough of a substance to last for your play. In that case, make sure you avoid using it with condoms.
Olive oil is a popular alternative you can find in your kitchen.
Like other natural oils, olive oil can be great for adding moisture and reducing friction.
But your skin won’t absorb olive oil, so it can clog your pores if you don’t wash it off right away.
You should also avoid using olive oil with condoms, or any other latex product, including dental dams.
If this works best for you, California Olive Ranch makes a great extra virgin olive oil.
Before you get too excited about rummaging through your household items for DIY lube, you should know that some items should be avoided at all costs.
When it comes to lube, you’ll want to avoid anything with petroleum or mineral oil as a base. This includes baby oil.
If you’re using it vaginally, baby oil can increase the chances of getting an infection like bacterial vaginosis.
Plus, it’s hard to wash off. This is inconvenient, but it can also be risky. If baby oil comes in contact with a condom or a sex toy, it can degrade the material.
If you’ve ever used Vaseline or another petroleum jelly as a moisturizer, then you know it can leave your skin feeling soft and smooth.
Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean it makes a great lube.
For one thing, petroleum jelly is greasy rather than slippery. This means it sticks around on your body, sheets, and clothing.
It isn’t safe to use with condoms, either.
One study also showed that people who used petroleum jelly vaginally were 2.2 times more likely to develop bacterial vaginosis.
Vegetable, canola, and other refined oils
You can’t just grab any oil from your kitchen to use as lube.
Refined and hydrogenated cooking oils, such as vegetable oil and canola oil, go through heavy processing.
This usually includes heating, bleaching, and chemical treatments.
That’s why healthy cooking tips tend to recommend unrefined oils, such as extra virgin olive oil, instead.
Refined oils aren’t exactly natural, and they can stain your sheets.
They can also leave residue on your body. Buildup in an area like the vagina may increase your risk for infection.
Some people recommend taking your DIY lube up a notch by adding an essential oil for a nice scent.
But this means you’re applying essential oils internally, because your body ingests and absorbs substances applied to areas like the mouth, vagina, and anus.
Unfortunately, essential oils aren’t consistently regulated enough for internal use.
You shouldn’t use essential oils internally unless you’ve undergone advanced training and certification or are acting under the guidance of a trained professional.
Follow a trained professional’s advice closely, and make sure you always dilute essential oils by mixing them with a carrier oil such as coconut.
A little goes a long way, and it’s easy to overdo it if you’re not paying attention. Make sure the essential oil is less than 5 percent of your mixture.
Just because a product is natural doesn’t mean it’s perfectly safe for you.
Make sure you avoid ingredients that you or your partner is allergic to.
If you’re not sure, try this simple patch test before you dive into using a new lube for play:
- Wash your arm with unscented soap. Pat dry.
- Put a few drops of the lube onto a small patch of skin, like inside the crook of your elbow.
- Cover the area with a bandage.
- Wait 24 hours, and then remove the bandage.
Don’t use the lube if you notice a reaction like redness, swelling, itching, or blistering on your skin patch.
If you start having a reaction before 24 hours have passed, immediately wash the area with soap and warm water.
If you go on to use the lube, keep an eye out for any unwanted symptoms.
See a healthcare professional if you experience any of the following:
- difficulty breathing
- swelling, especially of the tongue, throat, or face
You probably consider what you’re putting into your body when it comes to food, so why not extend that consideration to the lubricant you’re using?
By seeking out natural, minimally processed, and sustainably sourced ingredients, you can look out for your health, your pleasure, and the planet, all at once.
Maisha Z. Johnson is a writer and advocate for survivors of violence, people of color, and LGBTQ+ communities. She lives with chronic illness and believes in honoring each person’s unique path to healing. Find Maisha on her website, Facebook, and Twitter.