Personal lubricants (also known as “lube”) offer a solution for those who either do not lubricate enough or do not lubricate at all. Lubricants work by reducing friction between body parts during sexual activity. The lack of proper lubrication can lead to painful intercourse, which often creates complications for sexual partners.1 While personal lubricants can be used for engaging in sexual activities with partners, it can also be used during masturbation and/or mutual masturbation. They can also be used to enhance different sensations or create novelty, regardless of whether partners lubricate enough or not! For instance, some “lubes” are flavored, while others offer a warming sensations that can add to the sexual experience.
Types of Lubricants
Water-based lubricants are the most commonly used lubricants, and although they have the tendency to dry out, they can be reapplied as needed.1 They are water-soluble, which means they dissolve in water. Therefore, water-based lubricants are incompatible with sexual activities that involve water, such as having intercourse in the shower, bathtub, pool, etc.
Popular Brands of Water-Based Lubricant
Pros: This brand is very popular and easy to purchase for a relatively cheap price. It also has a thin texture.
Cons: Because of its thin texture, it requires reapplication more frequently for extended durations.11
2. KY Jelly
Pros: This brand is easy to find in most drug stores. KY Jelly was first intended as a surgical aid then later lubrication use was discovered and has since then been one of the most popular lubricant brand. 3
Cons: This lube dries out very quickly and may leave behind a rough texture.
Pros: Wet is easily found. It is also thicker than other water-based lubes, which decreases the need for reapplication. This brand also comes in flavored, edible versions.
Cons: Wet is made with glycerin. Which can increase the chances of vaginal complications, such high risk for yeast infections and skin irritation in some women.11
Pros: Maximus has a very thick texture, which makes it last longer than other lubricants with a thinner texture. This brand lube consistency is commonly recommended for anal sex. 11
Cons: There have been reports of skin allergy due to parabens in the product. Parabens is a chemical used to prevent the spread of bacteria and fungus in cosmetics and lubricants. This chemical has been believed to be linked with other health issues such as cancer (breast and testicular) but it is yet to be proven.12
Silicone-based lubricants last longer than water-based lubricants because skin and mucus membranes do not absorb them. These lubricants can be used with latex condoms and non-silicone toys. 4 Silicone based lubricants cannot be used with silicone sex toys due to the reaction between the silicone materials. This reaction may cause the sex toy to degrade making it less pleasurable and less safe (hygiene). 13 In addition, they do not dissolve in water, which makes them compatible with water-related sexual activities. This type of lubricant may cause irritation in some people if its not fully rinse off after use. 1
Popular Brands of Silicone-Based Lubricant:
1. Wet Platinum
Pros: This brand of lubricant is long lasting and is not sticky.
Cons: Wet platinum is not to be used with silicone-based toys. This brand also causes stains when used on fabric, and it is not edible. 2
2. Eros Body Glide
Pros: This lubricant is made with long lasting, high-grade silicone and it has a thick texture.
Cons: This brand tends to be expensive. It is not compatible with silicone toys, and may cause fabrics to stain. 11
3. Gun Oil
Pros: Gun oil is infused with aloe vera and vitamin E to minimize skin irritation
Cons: This brand can be expensive. It is also difficult to get off of sheets, floors, or other surfaces leaving them very slippery. This lube may even leave users’ skin feeling greasy. Gun oil is not usable with silicone toys.11
Pros: This brand is not sticky and it comes with a measured pump giving you the exact amount needed. Überlube is great for users’ with sensitive skin and generally leaves no stains.
Cons: This lubricant can be expensive. 5
Oil-based lubricants are only recommended for women who have experienced irritation from over-the-counter lubricants and in part because this lube cannot be used with latex condoms. Oil-based lubricants cause condoms to lose their elasticity, thus increasing the risk that the condom will break or slip off. Polyurethane condoms are an exception to this. Therefore, if you are using latex condoms, be sure to pair it with either water or silicone-based lubricants, NOT oil-based lubricants.
If you are using oil-based lubricants, please be aware that its negative effects on latex condoms are not the only risk. They can also clog the pores of the skin, breeding infection. Oil-based lubricants are not recommended for anal sex for this very reason.
Examples of oil-based lubricants include:
- Baby oil
- Whipped cream.4
Petroleum- based lubricants are never recommended. They are known to contain chemicals that interfere with your body’s regular functions.6 They mat cause health problems such as irritation or inflammation in users’.
Some examples are:
2. Baby oil (contains petroleum based ingredients)
3.Mineral oil 1
Organic/ Natural Lubricants are for people who are concerned with the ingredients contained in other types of lubricants. Different options can include organic, vegan, or natural lubricants. These lubricants are made with different ingredients that fit the needs of those with specific allergies, lifestyle, or personal preferences. Below are some examples of organic/natural lubricants.
Pros: This brand is a water-based lubricant that can be used with latex and silicone. It is odorless and contains neither glycerin (sugar like ingredient that increases the likelihood of causing infection in women) nor parabens( estrogen like preservatives).
Cons: This lubricant is thin and requires to be reapplied more often.
Pros: This product is a water-based lubricant. That contains vegan ingredients. It is easy to clean and does not contain glycerin or paraben. Sliquid is also hypoallergenic and non toxic.
Cons: Like other water-based products it requires users’ to reapply lubricant constantly.7
Pros: The YES brand contains a series of different types of lubricants. Each of which are organic which vary from oil-based lubricants to even vaginal moisturizers. These series of lubes expose users’ to a very low l risk of allergic reactions. These are also hydrating and will leave skin clean and non-sticky. The water-based lubes in the series can be used with condoms and sex toys and the oil-based lubricants are ‘plant oil’ based. 8
Cons: This lubricant is expensive.
Fun Lubricants can add a little more excitement and playfulness for sexual encounters regardless of what activities partners may choose to engage in.
1. Cosmic Bear:
Pros: This is a glow in the dark water-based lubricant by Nature Lovin’; it is easy to clean and non-toxic.10
Cons: This product is difficult to find in drug stores. Users’ would most likely need to purchase lubricant online.
2. WET (Flavored Lubricants)
Pros: This lube comes in different flavors and scents. This water-based lubricant can be great for oral sex. It contains no sugar and is currently available in the following flavors: Kiwi Strawberry, Passionate Fruit Punch, Raspberry Pomegranate, Wild Blueberry, Sweet Cherry and Juicy Watermelon. 8
Cons: This water-based lubricant requires to be reapplied often.
Pros: These water based lubricants created by Nature Lovin’ come in thirteen unique flavors that vary from Caramel Apple to Mojito. They are easy to clean, toy friendly and can enhances foreplay and/or oral sex. 10
Cons: Koala water-based lubricants need to be applied often due to its thin consistency. Product is most commonly found online.
Additional Information Regarding Lubricants
When using personal lubricants, make sure that they do not contain nonoxynol-9 (n-9), a spermicide that has been shown to cause skin irritations and tears in the skin that allow viruses (especially HIV to be transmitted more easily.
Personal lubricants DO NOT protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Therefore, if you are not in a relationship in which both you and your partner(s) have been tested for STIs, you should always use a condom.
1. “What is a lubricant?” International Society for Sexual Medicine, Accessed 1 Oct.
2. “Wet Platinium Lubricant” Stay Wet Longer, Accessed 1 Oct. 2016.
3. Weisman, Carrie. “Guess What Our Ancestors Used for Sexual Lubrication: Personal lubrication is not a modern invention.” AlterNet, 12 Oct. 2015.
4. Berman, Laura. “How to choose lubricant” Everyday Health: Sexual Health, Accessed 1 Oct. 2016.
5. “Sex” Uberlube, Accessed 1 Oct. 2016.
6. Steelsmith, Laura. Steelsmith, Alex. “Seven Ingredients to Avoid in Your Sexual Lubricants” Sexual Wellness News, Accessed 1 Oct. 2016.
7. “Sliquid Naturals H20” Sliquid, Accessed 1 Oct. 2016.
8. “ How does YES compare” YES, Accessed 1 Oct. 2016.
9. “Wet flavored gel lubricants” Stays Wet Longer, Accessed 1 Oct. 2016
10. “Nature Lovin” Nature Labs Brands, Accessed 1 Oct. 2016.
11. “How to Choose a Lubricant for Pleasure and Safety” Our bodies Ourselves, 12 Sept. 2014, Accessed 1 Oct. 2016.
12. “Parabens: What are they, and are they really that bad?” Best Health Magazine, Accessed 1 Oct. 2016.
13. Downs, Martin. “Lube Up for Better Lovin”, WebMd, Accessed 10 Oct. 2016.
Last Updated November 29, 2016.