Ingredients that shouldn’t be in lube! 5 toxic ingredients


So, you’re thinking of buying a lube (or maybe you already bought one) and your subconscious is telling you, that you should check out the ingredients? Is it possible that your lube contains bad (toxic) ingredients that just shouldn’t be applied to a human body? But hey, there is no possible way manufacturers would be using hazardous ingredients as a part of their product creation, right? – Errm, WRONG!

We are here presenting 5 toxic ingredients, that you most certainly don’t want in your lube, and we are going to explain exactly why that is. The addressed problem is not limited to sexual lubes only, you can find a fair share of these types of bad ingredients in a regular skin-care products also (creams, makeup, etc…). And guess what? You can also find them in a shape of antifreeze, diesel, formaldehyde, etc. Would you be using a lube on your private parts if you knew that it contains a known toxin?


Below is a snippet taken from a label of an actual personal lubricant. Ingredients list that is written in a small text at the back of the product is marked. 80% of people do not research in detail if all of these are safe. Is it possible that any of these are actually bad, toxic ingredients?


We would like to point out 5 toxic ingredients, that you should avoid at all costs, when purchasing a personal lube (you can compare how many of listed ingredients can be found on the product label below):

  • [1] Glycerin aka Glycerol
  • [2] Methylparaben (generally all Parabens – Propylparaben, Buthylparaben, …)
  • [3] Tetrasodium EDTA (also other formaldehyde related ingredients – DMDM Hydantoin, Diazolidinyl Urea, …)
  • [4] Butylphenyl Methylpropional aka Lilial (basically all Flavors & Fragrances)
  • [5] Paraffinum Liquidum (aka Petroleum)
lube - 5 toxic ingredients in skin-care products

This doesn’t mean other ingredients (which we haven’t pointed out) are perfectly safe. But we chose to eliminate 5 of those, that are in our opinion the most critical. For example; sodium saccharin is an artificial sweetener and is also quite bad. But we haven’t listed it, since we believe it ranks under medium risks and not high. Although there is data available expressing concerns about sodium saccharin regarding yeast infections. People prone to yeast infections, may want to avoid it and thus prevent candida overgrowth.

Let’s take a closer look at 5 toxic ingredients that should never be in a lube.

Glycerin – What are the side effects of Glycerin?

Glycerin is a metabolic byproduct of sugar, and using sugars on your vagina just can’t end well. Glycerin is the key ingredient attributed to yeast overgrowth, and by applying it to your private parts you are also increasing risk for contracting bacterial vaginosis [source].

Glycerin (also glycerol) is an ingredient widely used in water-based lubes. Water-based lubes are prone to dry out faster due to highly absorbing properties of its base. Glycerin is a humectant, meaning it can seal in moisture and make your lube last longer. It also creates the slippery feel by reducing friction. While all this may sound as a benefit, there are downsides mainly connected to human health. Experts and studies strongly advise against the use of personal lubricants containing glycerin. We find glycerin to be one of top 5 toxic ingredients to stay away from. Below you can locate 3 significant studies, with highlighted text.

3 glycerin toxicity studies - toxic ingredients in personal lubes

People with basic education on this matter might think that glycerin shouldn’t be that bad since it is originally derived from organic fats (animals, plants, vegetables,…). But of course, this isn’t the case nowadays. Below, we are going to state our concerns on the process of deriving glycerin and various glycerin origins.


1) Synthetics: glycerin is sugar alcohol and can be derived not only from animals and vegetables, but also from petroleum. Much of the glycerin on the market is produced synthetically from petroleum-derived propylene [source].

distilled petroleum Glycerin toxic ingredient

Even a person with basic knowledge is aware by now that petroleum-based products are not healthwise effective when used as personal lubricants, and are also not environmental friendly.

Vaseline is petroleum based product and the company itself admitted, that Vaseline was never meant to be used as a lube and that they strongly advise against using Vaseline as a lube, due to health related issues it can provoke.

They labeled it with “for external use only” and added warnings such as “if swallowed, contact medical help immediately!” There is one simple rule I always follow when choosing my lube: If it’s OK to eat, it is OK to apply to private parts of my body. If there are warnings about edibility, inhalation, toxicity under certain conditions, etc… it just can’t be healthy to be used as a lube.


2) GMO’s: Sometimes labeled as “vegetable glycerin”, as if that is something good, much of it comes from GMO products (genetically modified), that most people try to avoid (for example: soy, corn, canola, … [source].

gmo soy used for glycerin production - toxic lube ingredients

Genetically modified food is something that most people are trying to avoid. And while there are tons of studies out there, questioning the safety of glycerin, manufacturers are camouflaging it into lesser known names: 1,2,3-Propanetriol, 56-81-5, Propane-1,2,3-Triol, Glycyl alcohol, Trihydroxypropane, Glyceritol, Propanetriol, Osmoglyn, 1,2,3-trihydroxypropane, Grocolene, Glysanin, etc… thus deceiving customers into thinking that their product is glycerin free.


Unless you are 100% sure of the ingredients (from where they come from and how they were processed) you will not be able to determine which type of fat or oil was used for production of glycerin (natural, organic, GMO, or synthetic). Even if natural, glycerin is still sugar alcohol which makes it bad as lube, but modern processing (e.g.: heavily refined) and ingredients (e.g.: petroleum, biodiesel, GMO’s) actually made glycerin, once harmless ingredient, toxic. We are therefore listing glycerin right on top of toxic ingredients used in personal lubes.

Is Methylparaben cancer causing, toxic ingredient?

Studies suggest methylparaben is in fact cancer causing. Esters of p-hydroxybenzoic acid (parabens) act as hormone disruptors, mimicking activity of hormone estrogen, which may lead to development of tumors. Research performed on female cancer patients shown traces of different parabens inside the tumor (methyl, ethyl, n-propyl, isobutyl and n-butyl paraben). The highest intensity was found to be from methylparaben [source].

Parabens are used as preservatives in a broad spectrum of modern cosmetic products, ranging from creams, personal care products, deodorants and of course sexual lubricants (lubes). Dramatically extending shelf life of these products, parabens are common choice to be used as preservatives by manufacturers. Parabens are absorbed through human skin and into the bloodstream – Detectable levels of parabens can be measured in human blood, just 1 hour after dermal application. The toxicity of parabens to human health is undenying, therefore we include worst of them (methylparaben) on our toxic ingredients list.

toxic ingredients in lubes - parabens
methylparaben and other parabens found in human breast tumors

How people get exposed to parabens? What can you do to protect yourself from parabens? – Possible ways to get parabens into your body are via dermal contact, inhalation and ingestion. To protect yourself from parabens you should start caring about what you eat, drink, what kind of beauty products you are using, … Let’s take a look at few examples.

Exposure to parabens via ingestion – Similar to cosmetics, foods are also added preservatives in order to live through longer time periods. As modern human beings, we’ve gotten used to the fact that foods and beverages simply don’t go bad. Rarely we stop to think how this is achieved. Often this is the case due to addition of synthetically produced chemicals, that work as antimicrobial agents. An example of these agents being parabens. Below you can see a photo of dairy product containing parabens.

parabens in food - toxic
bought tortillas only to find later on the included parabens

There is a simple (but not always applicable) rule regarding foods; If you want healthy, you must go into your pockets a bit deeper. Healthy food costs more, period. If you are one of those customers only searching for lower priced products, you may want to reconsider your food selection criteria. Personally I buy many things from farmers directly – those being farmers I actually know and trust.


Exposure to parabens via inhalation – Mainly from dust and house cleaning products. If you are using chemical agents for cleaning, you may achieve spotless and shinny state of cleanliness. Everyone wants to have their house properly cleaned and organized especially prior to visits. But how does that affect our health is another story. Especially in case of infants, toddlers and children, daily intakes of methylparaben from indoor dust is extremely high in comparison to adults – data shown in table below [source].

ng/kg bw per day2.352.801.400.22

So, for all those moms thinking how perfect and amazing they are for keeping their house spotless by applying chemicals all over the place, think again. You may be doing more harm than good to your own children (and to yourself).

cleaning supplies with paraben toxins

There are products available that are healthier and without parabens. But the best thing you can do is to switch to all natural. I, for example, I am using just water mixed with a bit of vinegar for cleaning floor. I also use mixture of water & vinegar for cleaning table after dinner, thus assuring no hazardous chemicals are in exposed places. While I witness other moms spraying toxic chemicals to clean dinner table, where children later eat food from. Bon appetite.


Exposure to parabens via dermal contact – Here we have beauty products, personal care products, creams, lotions, and of course, personal lubricants. All listed products may contain parabens if you are not careful of the ingredients. Methylparaben is known to be widely used and one of the most toxic ingredients that your lube can contain. So better read the ingredients and do an extensive analysis before buying a lube for yourself. You know that your lube will be used on your most sensitive parts. So it better not be made of toxic ingredients such as parabens.

lube - parabens in lube for sex
methylparaben and propylparaben in a lube

Oh, wow. We have a winner here on the photo above. It contains two types of parabens (methylparaben and propylparaben) and as if that’s not enough you also get glycerin in the mixture (of which toxicity we wrote in the previous chapter). Truly an amazing product – well at least it was cheap. Based on the stuff people are doing to themselves, I am amazed there is not a higher level of medical issues and illnesses amongst us.

STI sexually transmitted infections STATS - lube for sex

Looking at the statistics, numbers are going wild – Trends of several STI’s are getting higher by each year (graph above). Also, infertility is getting a bigger problem for both, men and women. I do believe toxic ingredients used by modern society tend to have correlation with these statistics… Well at least I’m positive they aren’t doing anything beneficial for our health.

Does Tetrasodium EDTA really contain formaldehyde?

Yes it does. Tetrasodium EDTA is a compound with a formula C10H12N2O8Na4 and is used as a chelating agent. It is synthesized preferably by cyanomethylation of ethylenediamine with sodium cyanide and formaldehyde [source].

There are numerous studies on the use of EDTA and safety regarding its use. Some of them are trying to refute the possibility of danger, while most of them are confirming the toxicity and recommend avoiding usage of EDTA. We are including Tetrasodium EDTA on our list of most toxic ingredients used in personal lubricants, due to its cytotoxic and genotoxic properties1 while also being in strong correlation with development of allergies.

tetrasodium EDTA - toxic ingredients - lube

I understand when they are trying to say, that small dosages of toxic compounds can’t harm a human being. But come on, really? Keywords here are:


Sounds delicious? Healthy? Cyanide is a popular poison of choice for many female serial killers, and the most known characteristic of cyanide is that it works slowly, while producing deadly damages in long-term. And here is what says about formaldehyde: There is sufficient evidence in humans for the carcinogenicity of formaldehyde. Formaldehyde causes cancer of the nasopharynx and leukaemia. “There is also strong evidence suggesting formaldehyde is the cause for development of various allergies among children.” One should also note that formaldehyde was named the allergen of the year in 2015 by American Contact Dermatitis Society.


Here you may also check the list of top 10 ingredients to avoid in beauty products. You will find Tetrasodium EDTA listed among other harmful ingredients. The main difference being, that beauty products are mainly used on persons skin surface (exterior use), while personal lubricants are used on your most sensitive body parts and sometimes also ingested (interior use). For that reason it is so much more important that the ingredients of your lube are natural and healthy.

Toxic ingredients: Is Butylphenyl Methylpropional harmful?

Toxic and harmful to the extent that SCCS marked it unsafe for human use, and that IFRA restricted its use in both leave-on and wash-off products. Quoting SCCS report: “Butylphenyl methylpropional at the proposed concentrations cannot be considered as safe.” Butylphenyl Methylpropional (aka Lilial) is a synthetic fragrance ingredient with a strong floral scent, with the molecular formula C14H20O. Lilial is used in various cosmetic products, laundry powders, creams, and personal lubricants. It carries the function of perfume, synthetically replicating the aroma of the lily of the valley [source].

Even though SCCS gave their opinion, now there is a long process ahead, before (if at all) the Lilial substance can be banned. First the industry has time to present their counter-arguments. And after that SCCS has to give a new opinion, taking into account presented counter-arguments. New opinion will either change or it will confirm toxicity of Lilial. However, in the end it is up to European Commission to integrate these recommendations into official regulations. Based on how fast public administration works, I believe this process is going to take at least 5-10 additional years to come to a conclusion.

Butylphenyl Methylpropional (Lilial) 5 toxic ingredients in sex lubes

Why exactly is Butylphenyl Methylpropional (Lilial) so dangerous?

  • Due to its skin sensitization properties, which can result in allergic contact dermatitis, that is the most common manifestation of immunotoxicity in humans.
  • Butylphenyl methylpropional was listed as an irritant in 2001. Being an irritant, it can trigger an outbreak of redness, itching, or stinging on a local area of your skin.
  • Lilial can be damaging to male testes, impacting sperm quality, can possibly cause infertility.
  • It can be harmful to developing fetuses exposed through their mother’s use of products containing the chemical.
  • Lilial is an endocrine disruptor (Charles AK, Darbre PD. 2009), meaning it affects estrogen activity stimulating growth of human breast cancer cells.
  • In general, Lilial has been linked to health effects including cancer, reproductive toxicity, allergies and sensitivities.

What is also worrying is the fact that Lilial has to be labeled even if an amazingly small amounts are added in the mixture:

  • For rinse off products: If the product contain 0.01% of Butylphenyl methylpropional (Lilial) manufacturer has to label it, thus warning customers of its existence [source].
  • For leave on products: If the product contain 0.001% of Butylphenyl methylpropional (Lilial) manufacturer has to label it, thus warning customers of its existence [source].
lilial toxic - lilial in personal care products
Source: Fernando S. García Einschlag, Luciano Carlos

This makes you wonder, how poisonous must something be that it calls for caution at 0.001% ? And you can be certain that using a lube for sex, will surely leave traces of the lube on you ( + inside of you). Your skin will absorb some of it and even if you wash after using it, traces of it will stay inside you (silicone-based lubes are hard to rinse off and your body will need a few days to clean them out completely). So take caution, and avoid toxic ingredients such as Butylphenyl methylpropional (Lilial).

Be careful since manufacturers might try camouflaging its name to something else. Here is a list of Lilial aka’s [source]:

  • 2-(4-tert-Butylbenzyl) propionaldehyde;
  • p- BMHCA;
  • 3-(4-(tert-Butyl)phenyl)-2-methylpropanal;
  • 80-54-6;
  • 2-(4-tert-Butylbenzyl)propionaldehyde;
  • Lilestral;
  • Lily aldehyde.
LILIAL- irritant, health hazard, environmental hazard - TOXIC
A warming picture to finish the Lilial article with [source]

Is Paraffinum Liquidum bad for the skin?

Not only is Paraffinum Liquidum bad for your skin, it is also hazardous to your health. Paraffinum Liquidum (also Mineral Oil), is extremely cheap and widely used petroleum derivative (quick note: we wrote on petroleum-based products in the linked article). It is made by highly processing crude oil, and must be distilled, desalted, dewaxed and refined. One 2013 study concluded with result, that women who were subjected to Paraffinum Liquidum were 220% more likely to test positive for bacterial vaginosis [source].


We established our opinion on Paraffinum Liquidum toxicity due to several reasons. Here’s why we included Paraffinum Liquidum on our 5 toxic ingredients list:

  • First: Everyone (except manufacturers) are warning against its use.
  • Second: There are countless studies and scientific articles confirming its toxicological properties.
  • Third: It’s made from same stuff as petrol (diesel) which just can’t be good for health.
  • Fourth: Being made from crude oil, it must be highly processed, refined, distilled, dewaxed, desalted, etc… while we are usually looking for organic, unrefined, natural ingredients which carry health beneficial properties.
  • Fifth: There are number of studies researching contamination of Paraffinum Liquidumwith PAH’s, which are highly toxic and cancer causing.
  • Sixth: It acts as a barrier trapping body fluids under your skin, thus preventing natural body behavior.
Paraffinum Liquidum - Mineral Oil - Toxic Ingredients In Lube

Why is it important you don’t block your skin, trapping all the fluids inside?

If this wasn’t important our bodies wouldn’t have this function. I’ve read an article which said something like: “Paraffinum Liquidum will not let your body moisture escape, thus making your skin look nice and soft.” Yeah great… in short-term that’s true, but also deceiving, since they didn’t write anything about the consequences this type of actions may have in connection to your health.

By sweating and naturally moisturizing, our body is letting out all the bad stuff it accumulated inside. By blocking the pores and skin’s natural respiration, we are trapping in all the garbage that our body is trying to eliminate. While on the other hand we are also preventing good stuff from coming in. Paraffinum Liquidum is therefore blocking the absorption of vitamins / minerals / botanicals, and basically any ingredient our body could benefit from.


Paraffinum Liquidum (mineral oil) contamination with PAH’s (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons)

Two of the most carcinogenic PAH’s are Benzo[a]pyrene (BaP) and Dibenzo[a,h]anthracene (DBA). Dermal exposure may occur from contact with soils or materials that contain soot, tar, or crude petroleum products or by using certain pharmaceutical products containing coal tars, such as those used to treat the skin conditions, eczema and psoriasis. Studies in multiple animal species demonstrate that benzo[a]pyrene is carcinogenic at multiple tumor sites (alimentary tract, liver, kidney, respiratory tract, pharynx, and skin) by all routes of exposure [source].

Here’s an excerpt from a study by International Agency for Research on Cancer, 2012: Petroleum-derived base oils and formulated products have been tested for their potential carcinogenicity in mice and other experimental animals, by skin application, in feeding studies, by inhalation exposure, and by subcutaneous and intra-peritoneal injection. Mice receiving repeated intra-peritoneal injections of liquid paraffin (Paraffinum Liquidum) developed peritoneal reticulum-cell sarcomas, plasma-cell leukaemia, myeloid leukaemia and lymphocytic leukaemia [source].

f. heteroclitus heart after exposure to PAH toxins - toxic lube ingredients
PAH’s effect on fish [source]

Basically, the manufacturers are processing and severely refining crude oil to reduce the level of PAH’s it contains, to create Paraffinum Liquidum for beauty products, lotions, lubes… And consumers should trust that they are able to completely remove all traces of highly toxic ingredients, and that something that is originally extremely poisonous, can be good for dermal and oral use after the completion of processing. Not only is the idea of putting an ingredient that originates from crude oil into my mouth and vagina completely repulsing, studies also firmly back-up the fact that Paraffinum Liquidum is a toxic ingredient which should be avoided at all costs.

5 toxic ingredients in lube – The conclusion

In this article titled “Ingredients that shouldn’t be in lube! 5 toxic ingredients” we cowered 5 toxic ingredients that everyone should avoid at all costs when purchasing a personal lubricant. We did this article because we noticed that many web sources promote all kinds of ingredients as toxic, by also promoting “mildly harmful” ingredients on their lists. We didn’t do an article on 20 ingredients that are mildly harmful, we did an extensive research and covered the top 5 most toxic and harmful ingredients that really have no place in consumer products.


If we recap, we’ve learned that toxic ingredients to avoid are the ones that:

  • Contain sugars and flavors,
  • Contain alcohol,
  • Contain perfumes and fragrances,
  • Contain cyanide;
  • Contain formaldehyde;
  • Are hormone disruptors;
  • Are irritants;
  • Are synthetically made;
  • Are petroleum-based.

There is absolutely no excuse for manufacturers using formaldehyde releasers as preservatives. There are natural ingredients (e.g. Rosemary Antioxidants – Extract), that have no harmful properties and can just as well carry the function of a preservative. I enjoyed the video below, where naturopathic doctor Dr. Trevor Cates talks about hazardous lube ingredients, plus how to recognize and avoid them.

As a full-proof method for achieving 100% natural ingredients, we recommend making a lube with DIY techniques. On website you can find recipes on how to make a completely natural lube for sex, right from your home.

If you are into oils, which are long-lasting, skin beneficial and proven to successfully fight against yeast infections, we recommend checking out our Cold-Pressed Virgin Coconut Oil recipe. This works great as a personal lubricant, massage oil, teeth cleaner, hair conditioner and has a variety of other uses.

If you like water-based lubes more, you can find our recipe on 100% natural Aloe Vera lube here. Aloe Vera (Aloe Barbadensis) is an ancient plant used through out the history also by Cleopatra and Nefretete as a fundamental ingredient for skin health and beauty.

If you have no time for experimenting at home, see our recommended lubes in an article called Best & Safest Lubricants | 11 Natural Lubes. There we first go through 4 DIY lubes, and continue with 7 commercial lubes, that are by our opinion some of the safest and of highest quality.


Thank you for reading our content, we hope you enjoyed this article. Don’t forget to come back, we publish new material weekly, so there’s always something new and useful for our readers waiting to be discussed on our website. Best regards, team.


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