“She’s sweat, WET, got it goin’ like a turbo ‘Vette” –Sr. Mix-a-Lot
Lube is often erroneously thought of as the province of women d’un certain âge. While personal lubricants can indeed help ease general discomfort associated with vaginal dryness (which -it should be noted- can impact women both young and old, since how “wet” we get can be impacted by a whole host of things including stress, hormonal changes, medical conditions, medications, chemical products or lack of foreplay), lube is also a fantastic means to enhance the sensations of vaginal, anal and oral sex or even masturbation. However, the types of lube are as many and varied as its applications. Fear not- our handy guide will help you select the best variety for you to have a slick, sexy time.
There are three main families of lube: oil-based, water-based, silicone-based, and and they each have their pros and cons.
Let us break it down fo ya.
OIL-BASED LUBE: Nah. Just nah.
We’ll be blunt- we don’t love oil-based lube. While it has a nice texture that is thicker than than comparable water-based lubricants, its applications are far more limited (to say nothing of the messy clean up).
- Oil-based lubes are not safe to use with most condoms as they degrade the latex and increase the risk of tears.
- Best usages include massage or male masturbation (its hydrophobic qualities mean that it can also be used for shower play). When used vaginally or in the anus, however, oil-based lubes can cause serious infections (as its more viscous texture can trap bacteria).
WATER-BASED LUBE: Great for every day!
Water-based lubes are by far the most versatile- they are compatible will all types of toys and condoms or diaphragms, great for sensitive skin, and their composition makes them a breeze to clean up.
- However, these types of lubes tend to dry faster, and so often need to be reapplied more frequently than other kinds.
- They also don’t work well in the shower.
- Ideally seek out brands that are petrochemical-free, glycerin-free and paraben-free.
SILICONE-BASED LUBE: Great for the right occasion.
Silicone lubes are the most viscous, slick, and long lasting of the three main varieties and are particularly great for anal sex since they are very slippery and need less frequent re-application.
- Unlike synthetic oils, silicone lubricants are typically hypoallergenic and far less likely to cause irritation or infections with penetrative sex.
- While silicone lubes are compatible with latex condoms, they should not be paired with silicone toys as they will cause them to degrade.
- They are also harder to remove from upholstery (typically requiring soap and water) than water-based lubricants but this is somewhat mitigated by the fact that you need to be far less liberal with silicone vs water-based lube to achieve the same effect.
- They work great in the shower (or hot tub, lake, swimming pool)!
HYBRIDS (Best of both worlds!)
Recently certain “hybrid lubes” have emerged that are largely water-based but which contain a small enough amount of silicone to increase viscosity and longevity without compromising silicone toys.
OTHER VARIETIES: FLAVORED, SENSATION ETC.
All of the above varieties of lube can also be found with a host of additional features related to taste and sensation. Here are a few things to keep in mind for each:
- Desensitizing lubes: generally help men last longer during penetrative sex. Certain manufacturers (Anal-Eze, e.g.) also produce lubricants targeted at minimizing discomfort during anal sex.
- Flavored lubes: flavored lubricants tend to be targeted for use during oral sex. However, these should be approached with caution when used in conjunction with vaginal sex as, depending on the sweetener used in the flavoring, such lubricants can contribute to yeast infections (to avoid this look for lubes that are noted to be sugar or glycerin-free).
- Stimulating and warming and cooling lubes: Such specialty lubes have been growing in popularity and are now widely available at chain drug stores. The sensation they produce is the result of chemical reactions between select mild ingredients. However, such additives may not be advisable for women who are more sensitive / prone to allergic reactions. Use a small amount to start and cease use if you notice irritation with such products.
LUBE N00B PRO TIPS
- Most lubes are pretty chemically stable, but make sure to store them out of direct heat.
- In addition to enhancing sensation, lube can also help condoms feel more pleasurable and “natural” and also reduce the risk that a condom will tear due to heat and friction (again- just be sure to never pair a latex condom with an oil-based lube!).
- Apply a dime-sized amount to the outside of the condom (some men even prefer a small bit inside the condom to enhance sensation). Just make sure you don’t over-apply to the point that the condom risks sliding off. Use more liberal amounts with thinner condoms or with water-based lubes.