You should be using lubricant gel (sex lube). Because lube is probably the single most amazing, essential sex accessory you could have in your bedside cupboard. We want you to enjoy sex, a lot. Everything you never knew about lube.
You should be using lube.
We’re not pro lube because we sell lube ("personal lubricant gel" if you're feeling fancy), we’re saying this because lube is probably the single most essential sex accessory you could have in your bedside cupboard. It literally makes everything smoother.
Plus, we want you to enjoy sex, a lot. Sure condoms, vibrators, candles and massage oils are safe, fun, pretty and sensual, but their brilliance pales in comparison to the humble lube. Seriously, it makes everything better! Sex with condoms, sex without condoms, anal sex, masturbation, mutual masturbation, solo sex toy play, mutual sex toy play, it’s hard to imagine anything sexual that isn’t better with lube.
However, close to 80% of us admit to almost never using lube; according to Statista.
Let’s address the elephant in the room. There’s a certain unfounded stigma around lube. It’s for old ladies, it’s for people who don’t get horny, it’s artificial, it’s only for anal sex, and our personal favourite 'I don’t need lube.' Well you don’t need another pair of shoes, do you? Of course, you do.
With that being said, it is claimed that vaginal dryness affects more than 30% of women (or other people with vaginas), and can lead to discomfort or pain during intercourse. This can happen at any age. Vaginal dryness commonly affects people who:
- Are breastfeeding
- Experience stress, anxiety or relationship issues
- Rigorous exercise
- Are post-menopausal
- Take certain medication such as contraceptives, antihistamines and antidepressants
- Are smokers
- Don’t drink enough water
- Are undergoing chemotherapy or breast cancer survivors
- Have an autoimmune disorder
- Have low estrogen levels
If you suffer from vaginal dryness, a bit of extra lubrication will be extra beneficial. Lubricant gel will benefit everyone, whether or not your body produces enough natural lubrication.
So you’ve realised you can do with some lube, now what? Let’s get stuck in.
How to pick a lubricant
There are many different types of lubricant gel to suit an individual’s personal needs. Whether you're a first-time buyer or you already have a favourite, it never hurts to be prepared for every situation. Here’s the low-down:
Your best bet to start with! Water-based lube is the most common and generally most economic lubricant available. It will suit 99% of your sexual needs whether it’s lovemaking, masturbation or having fun with your toys. They’re suitable for use with latex or non-latex condoms (and even decrease the chance of condoms breaking), won’t erode your sex toys, easy to clean by rinsing with water and generally won’t leave any nasty stains on your clothes or linen.
Ideal for people with sensitive skin and less likely to cause irritation. Some water-based lubes (especially flavoured, warming or cooling) might contain glycerin. Because of the sugar content, they taste sweeter but might contribute to yeast infections. Just make sure you read the label.
Pros: Versatile, readily available, cost-effective, safe for use with condoms
Cons: Washes away in water, can become sticky with reapplication necessary.
Silicone Based Lubricant
Silicone-based lubricants tend to be odourless, tasteless, slippery and smooth like silk sheets on your privates.
This lube lasts the longest of all lubricants so you don’t have to reapply as often as with water-based lube. They require less application and are the ideal option if you enjoy some extended bath or shower sessions as they don’t wash away as easily with water. This unfortunately also means that they take a bit more effort to wash off and might leave some stains, but good old soap and water will sort you out.
The big downside is that they’re not silicone toy friendly as they will break down the silicone or rubber over time and leave your beautiful toy gummy and gross. They are however perfectly safe to use with hard plastic, glass or metal toys. Most silicone-based lubricants are hypoallergenic, safe for use with condoms and if you enjoy anal play, this is your best option.
Pros: Slippery AF, lasts longer, less application required, safe for use with condoms, virtually waterproof, hypoallergenic
Cons: Tedious to wash off, can deteriorate the surface of silicone toys over time
Oil Based Lubricant
While not as readily available as water or silicone-based lubricants, oil-based lube is ideal if you don’t like to stop once you get going. It provides a super slippery feel and will literally last forever so it’s a great option if you’re planning a sex marathon. It’s ideal for masturbation (with or without toys), unprotected intercourse and bath or shower fun as it won’t wash away as easily as water-based lube. It also doubles up as a massage oil so you don’t have to worry about reaching for a different bottle if things heat up a bit.
The big downside is that they’re not compatible with latex condoms as they can break down the latex causing the condom to tear (the same applies to latex toys so please read the labels). Oil-based lubricants could also slightly increase your chances of vaginal infections and tend to stain sheets and clothing.
Pros: Lasts longer, great to use in the shower or bath, doubles as a massage oil.
Cons: Difficult to clean, not compatible with latex, increased chance of infections
Natural Oil Lubricants
Natural oil lubricants such as coconut, olive and avocado oil have made a resurgence in the last decade despite having been used as sexual lubricants for centuries. They’re not the only natural lubrication available however as many companies have started producing vegan-friendly products that are made of eco-friendly alternatives to their normal ingredients as consumers get more aware of what they put in and around their bodies. A great example is Pjur Med Vegan Glide which is becoming more and more popular among vegans.
Mostly made from organic materials which are better for the environment and your vagina. The most common option at the moment seems to be coconut oil and while it gets the job done it does have its downsides.
Most oils are incompatible with latex and natural oils are no different, they’re also difficult to clean and tend to be more expensive. While they work perfectly as massage oils they tend to ruin your sheets and nobody wants to walk around smelling like an avocado.
Pros: Natural, healthier for you, your vagina and the environment
Cons: Difficult to clean, not compatible with latex, can smell funny
Things to avoid when using lube
Most personal lubricant gels nowadays won’t have any side effects. It is still possible though to have an allergic reaction to some of the ingredients so please always read the label. If you experience any discomfort, irritation or pain, stop using the product immediately.
There are however a few ingredients and names to look out for as they are more likely to cause irritation or inflammation:
- Glycerin or Glycerol (mostly in flavoured, warming & cooling lubricants)
- Nonoxynol-9 (Spermicide)
- Parabens (Preservatives)
- Propylene glycol
How to use lubricant gel
This is the easy part. Simply apply as much as is needed to where you need it. Warming the lube with your hands beforehand is a nice touch but it’s bound to get warm wherever you apply it anyway.
Apply a few drops to your fingers (a little bit really goes a long way) and then to your toy, vulva, vagina, anus or penis and the rest will take care of itself. There’s no right amount of lube to apply, it depends entirely on you, your needs and the product used. If you need more, use more.
Lube Buying Tips
- If you’re using condoms, make sure your lube is compatible. Silicone-based lube, Vaseline and other oil-based lubricants can make them porous, compromising their safety
- For use with toys, stick to water-based. Silicone and oil-based lubricants will break down silicone and rubber doing damage to the toy
- For fun in the bath or shower, your best option is silicone-based lubricant as it won’t wash away as easily
- For anal play without a condom, silicone lube is the best option as the anal canal doesn’t produce its own lubrication. If you’re using a condom (which we highly recommend), opt for water-based. You might just need a second or third application
- If you're dealing with vaginal dryness, stay away from flavoured, warming or cooling lubricants as they might contain glycerin that will dry out faster
- When picking a water-based lube, try to get one with a PH of 3.8 - 4.5 (the natural PH level of a healthy vagina)
- Always check if you're allergic to any ingredient before you buy. If you’re unsure, a patch test is a simple way to make sure
- If you are trying to conceive, it's better to use a lubricant that is ‘sperm’ or ‘fertility’ friendly as research has shown that some lubricants can make it more difficult for sperm to swim. Some lubricants may also contain spermicide so always read the label
Lubricants are the single best way to improve your sex life, whether alone or with a partner. They are specifically designed to reduce friction on your sensitive skin and provide more pleasure. When deciding on which lubricant to use, your needs, comfort and safety should guide your decision. As a wise man once said: “There’s always time for lubricant!”