A new year is coming soon so here’s a gift! From us, to you, our dearly beloved readers. We present you an ultimate list, the most complete list you have ever stumbled upon on the web, a list of the 20 dangerous lube ingredients to avoid.
Why you should care about ingredients in your lube? Yeast infections, bacterial vaginosis, allergic contact dermatitis, eczema, infertility, cancer… This list will enable you, to choose your lube wisely, and avoid dangerous lube ingredients related to health problems and nasty issues which come as a consequence of their usage.
You will never have to worry about buying an unsafe sex lube again, which may cause problems for you. A safe lube, is a lube made from good, non-toxic, natural ingredients. To be able to get yourself the best and safest lube, simply print this page, go to sex store, and make sure the lube you are going to choose, does not contain any of the listed ingredients. We hope this list might help you all, and help prevent consequences that can happen with long-term application of dangerous lube ingredients.
⁍ PS: you can find within this article our recommended list of best and safest sexual lubricants.
⁍ PPS: and here you can find formaldehyde releasing agents used in skin care products.
“We analyzed each ingredient from more than 15+ lubes and packed the most dangerous ones into this article, to come up with the Ultimate List Of Dangerous Lube Ingredients.”
While this list is targeted at personal lubricants (lubes) it also partially covers other skincare and cosmetic products, such as moisturizers, creams, lotions, shampoos, etc. They all share similar ingredients in lots of cases.
And here we go, full in, presenting our Complete List of Dangerous Lube Ingredients to Avoid. Enjoy reading, and stay healthy by using safe, ingredient friendly lube for sex. Sincerely yours, the Lube For Sex team.
Quick Table Of Dangerous Lube Ingredients And Safe Recommendations
Below you can find our complete list of dangerous lube ingredients, all gathered in a “quick table”. What you can find within the table (according to the column order):
- Consecutive number.
- Most commonly used ingredient name.
- Hazard level (according to ewg.com).
- Commonly used synonyms (Sometimes manufacturers pack the ingredients under different names. We included synonyms in the list for easier identification of ingredients, even if a different name is used on the label. Example 1 –> glycerin = glycerol, Example 2 –> Butylphenyl Methylpropional = Lilial, etc.)
You can use this list as a helpful deduction method, when buying a lube. That is if your goal is to go for ingredient-friendly lube. We thought this list might be of help to people who are “ingredient-aware” and to those who are seeking safe lubes – We get questions about which lube is safe all the time. Well now, you have your answer… Most lubes, which do not contain ingredients listed below, are probably safe.
“This list is targeted at personal lubricants, but it also applies to skincare and cosmetic products.”
Some of these ingredients are also used in creams, shampoos, lotions, etc. Therefore, you can use this list whenever you’re out buying stuff that you plan to apply to your body, hair, face, etc.
To make sure your purchase is ingredient friendly and of the highest quality regarding performance, we added 3 recommendations after the list (below the table). Since you may all prefer different types of lube, we picked one we thought it’s best from every category (water, silicon, and oil – based).
Dangerous Lube Ingredients: The List
If you are interested in a certain ingredient more specifically, we cover each of the ingredients in the next chapter, describing basic stuff about it, how it works, and what are the main concerns / dangers related to the ingredient.
Here are our top picks. These sexual lubes are all ingredient friendly, edible, and do not contain any of the harmful ingredients which we’ve listed above. All these lubes also have an amazing customer rating on Amazon (over 4 out of 5 stars). By clicking the image, you will be taken to Amazon, where you can find more details about an individual lube.
Recommended Lubricants (Safe & Natural)
Aloe Cadabra: Water Based Safe Lube
Learn more about Aloe Cadabra natural lube
♠ [link to Amazon]
Penchant Premium: Silicone Based Safe Lube
Learn more about Aloe Cadabra natural lube
♠ [link to Amazon]
Coconut Oil: Safe Oil Based Lube
Learn more about virgin Coconut Oil
♠ [link to Amazon]
Isabel Fay: Safe Water Based Lube
Learn more about Isabel Fay natural lube
♠ [link to Amazon]
The ingredient-friendly lubes above are absolutely some of the best, and most natural, made specifically for people with sensitive skin.
If you’d like to know the difference between each lube type (water, vs silicone, vs oil), you are welcome to visit an article 4 types of lubes and the key differences between them.
Dangerous Lube Ingredients: Thorough Investigation – Main Ingredients Studied
I would first like to introduce you to just a couple examples, which show why our complete list of dangerous lube ingredients is so important. And why checking out the ingredients before buying a sex lube is an essential task to perform prior to purchase.
By having our list on you, the task of analyzing the ingredients should be much much easier, and you’ll be able to buy the lube that is ingredient-friendly in just a couple of minutes instead of hours.
On the photo above you can see a lubricant with dangerous ingredient DMDM hydantoin. The ingredient is a known irritant and carcinogen according to ewg.com [source]. It is a formaldehyde releasing agent. Yet it is still widely used as preservative in many skincare and cosmetic products.
Why is this allowed? Well, because FDA allows for “small” quantities to used in products. It is thought that small quantities will not cause any harmful side effects. But anyone who knows anything about harmful effects of chemical compounds knows, that in a long term, this may contribute to serious damage to human body. And there are tons of studies proving it.
⁍ Assessment by ToxServices [source]: DMDM hydantoinmeets requirements for a GreenScreen®Benchmark Score of 1 despite the hazard data gaps. In a worst-case scenario, if DMDM hydantoin were assigned a High score for the data gap endocrine activity (E), repeated dose neurotoxicity (Nr*), and respiratory sensitization (SnR*), or a Very High Score for single dose neurotoxicity (Ns), it would still be categorized as a Benchmark 1 Chemical.
⁍ What’s a Benchmark 1 Chemical [source]: An important value of the GreenScreen is that Benchmark 1 clearly defines the criteria for chemicals of high concern to human health and the environment consistent with global regulations like REACH. These include: •carcinogens, •reproductive, developmental and neurodevelopmental toxicants, •mutagens, •persistent, bioaccumulative and toxic chemicals (PBTs), •very persistent and very bioaccumulative chemicals (vPvBs), and •endocrine disruptors.
“It’s like smoking. You won’t die from 1 cigarette. Systematic use is what may bring to serious health issues.”
You may be thinking: “Well then, I’ll just buy those lubes that are labeled with ‘natural’ and ‘organic’ signs written all over them.” – It’s not enough. While it probably is much better, compared to the ones without that label, the key is the inspection of ingredients.
We constantly come across skincare products that contain incredibly dangerous ingredients, but are still labeled with those “healthy signs”. As an example see the product below.
The ingredient Bronidox (aka 5-Bromo-5-nitro-1,3-dioxane) is bad enough by itself, but even more disturbing is the sign “natural” and that’s what bothers me the most. I mean, no problem, add dangerous ingredients to a product, but at least don’t label it with false misleading labels.
Bronidox is in no way natural, it is a synthetic ingredient, and also a very dangerous one. Description of how it’s made [source]: Process for preparing 5-bromo-5-nitro-1,3-dioxane (I) comprises reacting 2-bromo-2-nitro-1,3-propanediol (II) with paraformaldehyde (III) in the absence of an organic solvent and in the presence of aqueous sulphuric acid as catalyst.
And below you can see just how dangerous this ingredient actually is [source].
And to think this ingredient (and many alike) are being widely used by skincare product manufacturers with main intention to prolonging the shelf life of a product. Yeah, certain skincare products, won’t go bad even if in storage for periods of over 5 years.
“The key is the ingredient inspection process. With our list you can inspect ingredients faster.”
Here’s what’s interesting. The example of Bronidox – It is known that Bronidox is extremely toxic and that it does in-fact present a human health hazard. Yet, it has been used in skincare & cosmetics industry since 1970s, and is still used up to this day [source].
Let’s go to single ingredient analysis now. Let’s see all the dangerous lube ingredients you surely want to avoid. And thus prevent serious health issues and nasty vaginal problems, that may occur from applying them.
For every ingredient included on our dangerous lube ingredients list, we will:
- show an example of a personal lubricant carrying the dangerous ingredient,
- write short description of the ingredient,
- explain the hazards (backed by authority sources),
- and list most common synonyms of the discussed ingredient.
#1 – DMDM Hydantoin
Formaldehyde releaser used to extend the shelf life of a product.
DMDM hydantoin is an ingredient used as preservative in lubes and also many other skincare and cosmetic products, most commonly present in conditioners, shampoos, body wash, body cleanser, lotions, moisturizers, and the list goes on. DMDM hydantoin is a formaldehyde releaser, which works as an antimicrobial agent / preservative providing a longer shelf life of a product.
It is a known irritant, so I strongly advise against its use on your private parts. DMDM Hydantoin is our 1st dangerous lube ingredient to avoid.
Below you can see an example of a lube with DMDM hydantoin. Take notice how it also says “vegan certified ingredients”. Yeah, I guess DMDMh is no beef, ofc.
#2 – Diazolidinyl Urea
Formaldehyde releasing agent which works as preservative.
Yet another formaldehyde releasing agent that works as preservative prolonging the expiration date of a product. Diazolidinyl Urea is a 2nd on our list of dangerous lube ingredients. Diazolidinyl Urea can be extremely hazardous for anyone with history of skin allergies, it promotes allergic contact dermatitis and atopic dermatitis [source].
You should most definitely avoid using sexual lubes which contain dangerous ingredients such as Diazolidinyl Urea. Make sure your lube is ingredient-friendly, and does not contain any harmful lube ingredients. PS: Also be careful of Imidazolidinyl Urea (aka Germall 115), and Polyoxymethylene Urea (aka Polynoxylin) which carry similar properties.
Below you can see an actual lube being sold online, which contains Diazolidinyl Urea. Again there are misleading labels all over it, such as “Natural product”, “No harsh chemicals”, etc. There are real standards such as USDA certified Organic, which are hard to manipulate with: And I’m 100% that the below lube isn’t certified as USDA Organic.
#3 – Butylphenyl Methylpropional (Lilial)
Synthetic (and toxic) fragrance ingredient, limited to max 0,01%.
Well now, this one is different from the two previous, since it is not a preservative. This ingredient called “Lilial” is a synthetic compound, used as fragrance to create that nice scent. This is why we advise to our readers to always go for unscented lubes. You can’t be sure what ingredient is used to create the scent, and coming across a toxic ingredient such as Butylphenyl Methylpropional (Lilial) is not uncommon. Mostly used in female perfumes and conditioners, but can also be found in personal lubricants.
Lilial is a synthetic aromatic aldehyde, with several synthetic routes to be made by. However, it is typically made via a crossed-aldol condensation between para-tert-butylbenzaldehyde and propanal, followed by hydrogenation of the intermediate alkene. You can check this source, for detailed process of synthesis.
Again we present an actual case on the picture below, where Butylphenyl Methylpropional (Lilial) is used as an ingredient in a sex lube. Lilial has this nice scent to it, which strongly resembles the Lily Of The Valley, the highly poisonous plant, but with astonishing aromatic properties. Same applies to Lilial – it may smell nice, but you should avoid applying this dangerous lube ingredient anywhere to your body.
#4 – Glycerin
Humectant, proven to serve as a feeding substance to Candida Albicans.
Oh really? Then why is it rated only 1-2 level of danger in ewg.com? Well, I can’t answer that, but there are studies and proofs lying all around about glycerin being one of the top causes of yeast infection and bacterial vaginosis. This is due to glycerin properties of degrading to sugars, which serve as a great feeding resource for candidas (Candida Albicans).
Glycerin acts like food to candidas and promotes their overgrowth. Yeast itself is not a problem, the problem is when it goes out of control, and overgrowth of certain yeast, is called the yeast infection. And glycerin is proven to be the cause of it. This is also the reason 90+ percent of lube manufacturers are adding signs to their lube “Glycerin free!”
Another problematic thing is, that glycerin is originally derived from nature and is by itself an organic compound. But of course, we humans need to optimize costs and create synthetic processes for making anything and everything from artificial ingredients. Always putting price in front of quality. There are three types of glycerin: Natural glycerin derived from oils and fats from such sources as coconuts and oil palms, Synthetic glycerin derived from petroleum [source], and glycerin derived as a byproduct of Biodiesel manufacturing [source]. How will you know which type of glycerin is in your lube?
Here is an amazing (could say controversial) article to read, where glycerin is discussed. As we already mentioned, if you are prone to yeast infections, we advise against the use of glycerin. Glycerin may not be as harmful (for some people) as previously discussed ingredients, but it certainly can be problematic to some. We’d also like to link you to scientific studies [source] about how glycerin contributes to overgrowth of Candida Albicans, promoting yeast infection and also causing bacterial vaginosis.
#5 – Methylparaben
Preservative mimicking estrogen, contributes to growth of tumors.
Methylparaben belongs to the paraben family of (synthetic) preservatives. Methylparaben is used in food, cosmetics and skincare and is definitely one of the dangerous lube ingredients to avoid. 2004 study of parabens in human breast tumors, shows concentration of methylparaben to be the highest, in comparison to other parabens [source]. Parabens are esters of para-hydroxybenzoic acid. They carry bactericidal and fungicidal properties, making them an effective preservative. The problem is they mimic estrogen.
Mimicking estrogen, methylparaben works as an endocrine disruptor, interfering with human hormonal system. Such behavior of the chemical, may lead to breast cancer. This has been doubted in for a long time, but recently the 2016 study [source] has confirmed, that parabens do in-fact contribute to growth of cancer cells.
An excerpt from the 2016 study: “mePB (methylparaben) pellets (4.4 μg/day) led to increased tumor size of MCF-7 xenografts and ER+ PDX tumors.” … “Overall, these results suggest that mePB increases breast cancer tumor proliferation through enhanced TIC activity, in part via regulation of NANOG, and that mePB may play a direct role in chemoresistance by modulating stem cell activity.”
It is funny how people need a definite proof that something is bad. The results of 2004 study weren’t taken seriously, as if parabens ended up in breast tumors by mistake, randomly? No one believed at that time that they could be contributing to tumor growth. Today, even after 2016 study confirmed that parabens do in-fact contribute to growth of tumors, parabens are still not taken seriously. Since they are supposed to be a “very mild” endocrine disruptor, only interfering with hormonal system “just a little bit”. Oh well then, no worries there I guess… Anyway, I am avoiding them. While everyone else is of course entitled to their own opinion.
PS: Here are the most common parabens: methylparaben, ethylparaben, propylparaben, butylparaben, heptylparaben, isobutylparaben, isopropylparaben, benzylparaben. And below we are showing a lube, that contains methylparaben as one of the ingredients. So yes, parabens are continued to be used as preservatives in lubes (and other products).
#6 – Tetrasodium EDTA
Chelating agent – Creation process includes formaldehyde and cyanide.
Tetrasodium EDTA may at first glance seem just like an ordinary not-so-bad ingredient. But knowing the process of how it’s made, how it is synthesized, you may want to reconsider its usage.
According to echa.europa.eu, Tetrasodium EDTA is synthesized preferably by cyanomethylation of ethylenediamine with sodium cyanide and formaldehyde.
- ethylenediamine; dangers = flammable, corrosive, irritant, health hazard [source]
- sodium cyanide; dangers = corrosive, acute toxic, health hazard, environmental hazard [source]
- formaldehyde; dangers = corrosive, acute toxic, irritant, health hazard [source]
Tetrasodium EDTA may be rated merely with level 2 hazard by ewg.com, but many sources are pointing out the dangers of EDTA usage due to the process of the synthetisation. And me personally, if anyone told me that something I’m applying to myself, perhaps even eating, was made from the above substances, I would definitely avoid it from that moment on.
Here is an excerpt from the ToxServices assessment on EDTA: “EDTA was assigned a score of High for systemic toxicity (repeated dose) based on an inhalation LOAEC of 0.011 mg/mL for the surrogate disodium EDTA in a 90-day rat inhalation exposure study.”
I believe score of “high” for systemic toxicity, is an enough reason to stay away from this dangerous lube ingredient. Below you can find a photo of a lube carrying Tetrasodium EDTA as one of the ingredients.
PS: most common EDTA’s that you can find in personal lubricants and skincare products are: Tetrasodium EDTA, Disodium EDTA and Calcium disodium EDTA.
#7 – Paraffinum Liquidum
Emollient – Highly refined, cheap by-product of an oil industry.
Paraffinum Liquidum, aka Liquid petrolatum, aka Mineral Oil, aka Petroleum Jelly is an extremely cheap ingredient, being made from crude oil and widely used in skincare products. It may seem as harmless one to a layman. Researching about it, you quickly find just how bad this one is.
It acts as a barrier, making an impermeable layer on top of your skin. Thus, the moisture stays under your skin, creating short-term effect of “good-looking skin”. The problem is, skin needs to breath! Bad stuff have to go out, and good stuff in. With application of Paraffinum Liquidum, nothing goes out or in. Basically you keep all the “garbage” inside, beneath your skin.
It’s origin being crude oil (yes, that same oil, that is used for making diesel fuel), which is highly contaminated with PAH’s (Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons – currently classified as human carcinogens). Two of the most known (carcinogenic) PAH’s being Benzo[a]pyrene (BaP) and Dibenzo[a,h]anthracene (DBA)
The process of making Paraffinum Liquidum, involves crude oil being severely distilled, desalted, dewaxed and refined. There are numerous clinical studies suggesting the dangers of Paraffinum Liquidum being used in personal lubricants. I would like to link to this one, where it was found, that women subjected to Mineral Oil were 220% more likely to suffer from bacterial vaginosis.
The study concludes: “In multivariable analysis, women reporting intravaginal use of petroleum jelly over the past month were 2.2 times more likely to test positive for bacterial vaginosis (adjusted relative risk 2.2, 95% confidence interval 1.3–3.9).”
It is interesting that all scientific studies warn against its use, while ewg.com only rates it with 1-3. An excerpt from a study by International Agency for Research on Cancer, 2012, says: “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].”
Not only is Paraffinum Liquidum bad for you, it is also extremely bad for the environment. Just say “no” to this one, since it is one of the most dangerous lube ingredients around.
#8 – Propylene Glycol
Classified as irritant and connected to allergic contact dermatitis.
There are so many excuses by lube manufacturers who use Propylene Glycol in their lines of lube. They are telling to people “This is safe, don’t be fooled by anti propaganda of Propylene Glycol! So what if it’s also being used in antifreeze products, we are 100% sure it’s safe.” – LoL, yeah right.
My thoughts? Why don’t you just say it? We are using ingredients, that work as irritants, and are connected with allergic contact dermatitis, because they are cheaper than the ingredients that are actually good for you. There. It’s quite simple. Propylene glycol is one of the dangerous lube ingredients to stay away from.
Propylene glycol is an alcohol, and a skin irritant. All irritants (no matter in what dosage) should be kept away from your private parts. Period. None of our recommended lubes features propylene glycol, even though it is not “the worst” ingredient on our list, it can still result in some nasty vaginal (or penile) issues. Trust me, I’ve been there.
PS: Here’s an interesting, honest article about Propylene Glycol. It is a recommended read.
Just as many other lubes, the portrayed lube on the photo below features Propylene Glycol. I agree that using it once or twice, may not be harmful at all. But repeated, systematic use can most certainly end with problems.
We have found a research for you [source], which says: “Reported adverse effects from PG (Propylene Glycol) include central nervous system (CNS) toxicity, hyperosmolarity, hemolysis, cardiac arrhythmia, seizures, agitation, and lactic acidosis.”
Therefore, we believe that you should most definitely stay away from it, and rank it on our complete list of dangerous lube ingredients, you shouldn’t be applying to your genitalia.
#9 – Benzocaine
Anesthetic, connected to blood disorder called methemoglobinemia.
Benzocaine has a function of “numbing” the penetration area (you’ll basically feel no pain). It was made with anal sex being less painful in mind.
However, not feeling pain isn’t the only effect of this ingredient. In-fact, even the FDA has recently announced [source] that consumers should stay away from products containing Benzocaine, due to the side effect of Benzocaine causing the life-threatening condition, methemoglobinemia (serious blood disorder).
By the way – the effect of local anesthesia, does not only take away the pain, but also takes away all the pleasure. If something hurts you, you probably shouldn’t be doing it in the first place. It is highly advisable to avoid products containing Benzocaine, for it is one of the most dangerous lube ingredients and should be avoided at all costs.
In my opinion a good lube should improve ones sexual sensation. And it should be achieved in a healthy way, without exposing your body to any risks.
Products (personal lubricants) containing Benzocaine, clearly do not meet these criteria. Benzocaine is classified as an irritant, while also blocking the initiation and conduction of nerve impulses. I believe everyone agrees, when we conclude that Benzocaine is one of the dangerous lube ingredients to avoid.
#10 – Flavors (in general)
Artificial (synthetic) flavors are connected to yeast infections.
Using a flavored lube may seem like a pretty hot idea. For someone who likes that taste of vanilla, what could be better than experiencing that same taste of vanilla, when having fun with your partner? – Well, it turns out it ain’t that simple.
If those flavors were fresh, extracted from the fruit directly, this would possibly be just fine. The problem is, these flavors are artificial, chemically produced, and usually made by adding lots of sugar.
We already learned in the chapter on Glycerin, just how badly can sugars affect your natural flora. Promoting growth of Candida Albicans, flavored lubes were in many cases connected with:
- yeast infections due to candida overgrowth;
- bacterial vaginosis;
- and other STI’s (sexually transmitted infections).
For example, there’s a high chance that your favorite vanilla lube, is made from “Vanillin” (4-Hydroxy-3-methoxybenzaldehyde) an artificial (synthetic) ingredient, mimicking the true taste and scent of Vanilla.
Vanillin + sugar… a perfect combination that something could go wrong down there. Besides promoting Candida overgrowth, you can also see that Vanillin is classified as an irritant by pubchem.com [source].
Here’s a good (and interesting) external article, which talks about just how harmful for your body it can be, using dangerous lube ingredients such as artificial flavours.
There might be sex lubes available on the market, which contain natural and organic flavoring methods and ingredients. I just don’t see how one could recognize those, from the fake ones. Therefore, I believe it is the best solution to generally avoid all flavored and scented personal lubricants.
Bad (Dangerous) Lube Ingredients – The Conclusions
We hope you enjoyed reading through our article entitled Sex: Complete List of 20 Dangerous Lube Ingredients to Avoid. If we try to recap what we were trying to achieve with this article:
♦ To create a value added article with information on dangerous lube ingredients.
♦ To create a quick-peak list with all dangerous lube ingredients, that anyone can use when purchasing their own lube for sex.
♦ To briefly present each of the ingredient – what is it, the function, the concerns, and also synonyms to provide for easier detection.
♦ To present recommended lubes, which are natural and pose no threat even if used systematically (repeatedly).
♦ To give our readers helpful information and an interesting read about personal lubricants, which (if made ingredient-friendly) can in-fact spice up your sex life while also providing benefits to your skin.
If you think we forgot any ingredient, please let us know in the comments below. We will give it a look and update our list. We like to research through scientific material and other authoritative sources.
We also have an OB-GYN (obstetrician/gynecologist) in our team, who always cooperates in articles that are ingredient focused in one way or another (author, co-author, consultant).
Why should you care about your lube ingredients?
Well… here are just a few nasty problems, which can occur from repeated use of bad lubes containing dangerous lube ingredients:
- Yeast infections.
- Bacterial vaginosis.
- Allergic reactions.
- Fertility issues.
- Possibly even cancer in the long run.
Finally, we would like to wish you a good day, and a happy 2020 new year. I must say, this is an article we are proud of, and which would probably not be shared for free on any other website. This article is a new year gift for you, our readers.
Thank you, and stay tuned. Yours sincerely, the Lube For Sex team.