So last week, on the first ever Ins and Outs, I started off by offering a beginner’s guide to buying a vibrator. My intention for this blog series was to start with the most basic sex toy topics and gradually move on into more advanced areas.
It now occurs to me that I haven’t started at the beginning, and that rather than starting off with toys I should have started with the most universal sexual accessory, lube! I have no idea how I managed to overlook something so essential, but I did and now I intend to rectify the situation.
Lube is a fantastic way to enhance your sexual adventures. You can use it by yourself during solo play or with a partner(s) for a heightened sexual experience. It helps big things fit in tight spaces, increases sensation by reducing drag, and is essential for relieving vaginal dryness. Frankly lube is just the best, and with so many options out there you’re bound to find one that works for you.
Most categories of sex toy offer a whole spectrum of options and lubes are no exception, so choosing the right one can be difficult. While there is an endless selection of brands, fortunately there are only 4 different types of lube formulations.
Water Based Lube
Water based lubes are, like the name says, water based. That means that they are largely composed of water, and as such are easy to clean up. In addition they offer the most flexibility in terms of application because they’re compatible with condoms, sex toys, and your body. The one major drawback is that owing to the fact that they are absorbed by the skin, they often need to be reapplied during longer sex sessions.
Silicone Based Lube
Silicone lube is composed largely of silicone. It contains no water, is condom compatible, and stays slick indefinitely, making it the go to lube for anal sex (as long as no silicone toys are involved). Good quality silicone lube is also easy to clean up with soap and water. While silicone lube is fantastic there are a few things to keep in mind. For one thing it is not compatible with silicone sex toys, as it causes them to degrade. There are people out there who maintain that silicone lube is fine to use with high quality silicone toys, however I would ere on the side of caution, and science, and avoid that scenario all together. Yet another thing to keep in mind is that silicone can sometimes cause irritation so it is best to test it out on a small area before going full on. Some great brands are: Gun Oil, which has been an industry leader for over a decade. It is high quality, made in the USA, and has a great reputation. Uberlube is another high quality silicone lube and can also be used as an anti-frizz serum for hair (seriously, it’s great).
Hybrids are mostly composed of water but have a little bit of silicone added to them. The addition of that little bit of silicone changes the consistency and makes the lube last a lot longer than your standard water based lube. They are safe for all kinds of sex, are condom compatible, and are easy to clean up. Due to their low amount of silicone it may be possible to use them with silicone toys, however it would be wise to test it first. Apply a small amount of lube to the toy in an inconspicuous spot. If the lube starts to get gummy or sticky when you rub it a little, then it beginning to break down and is not compatible with silicone toys.
Oil based Lubes
Oil based lubes are kind of the grey area of the lube world. They can include oil based lubricants that are specifically manufactured for sex, and they can also include things like coconut oil, mineral oil, Vaseline, and vitamin E oil. The thing that makes oils a grey area is that some are better than others. For example natural based oils like, coconut oil, are great for external and internal use ie, hand jobs and sex. They won’t upset the delicate ecosystem that is the vagina, and they also have healing properties. On the other hand petroleum based oils, like Vaseline, are fine for external use, but I would not recommend them for vaginal use because they can attract bacteria and encourage yeast infections and UTi’s. Additionally oils like Vitamin E oil, while great for both internal and external, can cause allergic reactions. The one universal truths for oil based lubes are: 1, they are NOT condom compatible. They will cause latex and rubber to degrade. That also means they cannot be used with rubber sex toys.
So now that we’ve gone over the types of lubes let’s briefly discuss the differences between regular, natural, and organic. First just let me say that to my knowledge Organic silicone lube is not a thing, so below we will only be discussing water based lubes.
When I say regular lube, I mean lubes that don’t discriminate when it comes to the types of ingredients they have in them. Typically this is the category that you would find in the drug store. KY, Astroglide etc. While these lubes are fine, and in most cases do what they’re supposed to, they generally contain ingredients that are not necessarily body safe and in large doses can be toxic. The most common of these are Parabens and Glycerin.
Parabens- are a chemical preservative that is commonly found in cosmetics. They can be absorbed through the skin and can mimic your body’s natural estrogen hormones, and influence your hormonal balance. Parabens can accumulate in your body, particularly in reproductive organs, and have been linked to breast cancer. Basically they’re bad news, and you don’t want to put them in or on your body.
Glycerin- also called Glycerol or Glycerine is a sweetener and preservative. It can contribute to yeast infections and also damages mucus membranes. So also not great.
Basically try to avoid those things if you can, but if you are on a budget or in a pinch then Astroglide is a good way to go becuase it's PH balanced, and does not contain petroleum based ingredients.
In most cases “Natural” tends to mean that the manufacturer has avoided some of the more common toxins such as parabens and glycerin. However just because it says “natural” does not mean it is. If you aren’t sure read the ingredients. That being said there are some great high quality lubes out there that, while not organic, do avoid using harsh chemicals. Liquid Silk is a UK brand, that is creamy, long lasting, and free of parabens and glycerin. Sliquid H2O is another fantastic brand that is long lasting and free of most chemicals. A good budget option is Slippery Stuff Gel which is paraben and glycerin free, is hypoallergenic, and fun fact: was originally developed to help divers get into their diving suits.
Organic lubes are the most expensive but for good reason. They are free of harsh chemicals, petroleum based ingredients, and are mostly made of water and plant extracts. Many brands are vegan friendly, hypoallergenic, offer 100% biodegradable packaging, and are not tested on animals. They are excellent for people have allergies or sensitive skin. Some great brands are: Sliquid Organics, which is hypoallergenic, vegan friendly, and free of chemicals. Blossom Organics offers a water based lube that is combined with organic aloe and does not disrupt your vagina’s pH balance. Finally Hathor Aphrodisia, while not entirely organic, is high quality and eco-friendly. It is free of chemicals, vegan friendly, uses biodegradable packaging and is made in Canada (yay).
So now that we’ve covered the basics, I want to mention one more thing and then you should be ready to pick out a great lube.
A note about consistency
As far as lubes go there are three consistencies, liquid, gel, and cream. Where silicone lubes are concerned consistency is more a matter of personal preference, as silicone lube will last a long time no matter the consistency. Where water based lubes are concerned consistency is important. A thin, runny formula is great for regular use but not the best if you are having a longer sex session, or anal sex. Silicone lube is preferable for anal sex, but if you can’t use it because you are allergic or are using silicone toys, then opt for a water based gel such as Maximus or Slippery Stuff, a little will go a long way and last a lot longer.
Well that about raps it up for today. We'll be back again next week with another Ins and Outs.