How do I choose lube? – Since we mainly write articles about intimate topics, we would today like to share with you a step-by-step guide on how to choose the best lube for intimate acts and give away some useful tips & tricks.
The kind of lube that will suit your needs, the kind of lube that will perform good when having wet fun with it, and most of all, the kind of lube that is healthy and safe to use.
Lubricants can make it or break it. So better choose your intimate bottle with certain criteria in mind. See our tips, take a screen shot or write things down, before you go “shopping”.
Let’s first take a look at 5 characteristics of the best lube for sex:
- The best lube will never get sticky.
- The highest quality lubricants will not be made of harmful ingredients.
- The best lube for sex will benefit your skin and give comfort to your intimate parts.
- The best lube for sex will be edible.
- Besides being healthy for your sensitive skin, it will also perform great for all types of wet fun (solo, vaginal, anal, oral, …).
And here’s our simple 5-step method for how to choose the best lube for sex:
- Decide what type of lube fits your needs best.
- Will you be using condoms, toys, any accessories with it?
- Check the average rating of the lube and what people say about it.
- Carefully check the safety of the ingredients (ewg + pubchem).
- Check the osmolality and avoid hyperosmolar lubricants.
Don’t know about your, but me as a newcomer, I had the tendency to pick the lube based on what the front label said. Stuff like “The best lube for sensitive skin”, and “Your new best friend”, were written on the front label and of course, as oblivious I was back then I went for that.
And if the manufacturer had “a name” and was already well-known in the industry of personal lubricants, I didn’t hesitate to try it out. I admit, I got lucky with few, but most of them ended in a disaster.
There would either be stickiness, especially with the water-based ones, all the way to problems such as catching a yeast infection, or even vaginal burning. And although I am most definitely on the sensitive side, I think no women (or men) should use lube that has a slight possibility of harming you.
How do I choose Lube today
Today I use a more scientific approach. Something that turned out to be an effective method for me. A method that guarantees better intimate moments for me and my husband.
Learning from your own mistakes can turn out to be quite an unenjoyable ride. So, why not learn from mine?
Wanna know what happens when you use oil-based lubricants with condoms? Yeah, the condom will break. Not only you can conceive unintentionally, you can also catch an STD and the idea of having small parts of latex in there is gross.
Wanna know what happens if you don’t watch for glycerin as an ingredient in lube? Yeah, you have high chances of catching yeast infection. An itchy, nasty and annoying thing to have, and also very hard to get rid of.
And wanna know why your lube burns? So many lubricants contain the ingredients that are in no way suitable to be put in your vagina that it’s quite scary to be honest. From formaldehyde releasers to parabens.
What type of lube fits your needs best?
The 1st step of how to choose the best lube is deciding on the type of lube that fits your personal preferences best. It highly depends on the circumstances in which you’re going to be using it.
For example, is there any chance you’ll be going for safe sex? – If so, oil-based lubricants are out of the question, since this type is not compatible with condoms (oil breaks condoms).
And yet another example, are there going to be toys involved? – Silicone toys don’t work with silicone-based lubricants. Again, the reason being that the materials are not compatible.
Below are some key differences between the different types of lube.
- Great to be used for sensual massage before engaging in sex.
- Can be spread easily and doesn’t get absorbed fast.
- Small amount goes a long way.
- Can provide healthy skin benefits.
- Not compatible with condoms.
- Long lasting.
- Does not get absorbed by the skin.
- Great for anal sex.
- Can’t be rinsed off by mere water (need soap).
- Not compatible with silicone toys.
- Get absorbed fast, therefore they do not last as long as other types.
- May need to be reapplied a few times during a single intimate act.
- Instead reapplying, keep a glass of water near, and simply make them running back again by adding a few drops of water to the spot.
- Can provide nourishing effects to your skin, since they get absorbed.
- Compatible with everything (toys, condoms, …).
- Bad water based lubes tend to get sticky.
This type of lube contains petrochemicals, and should be avoided by all who put their health in the 1st place. You can recognize such a lube, by checking the ingredients for “petroleum”, “petrolatum”, “mineral oil”, “paraffinum liquidum”, etc.
Petroleum-based lubricants contain the by-product of an oil industry. This type of lube can cause irritations and vaginal discomforts (with those who have sensitive skin), while also posing harm due to the possibility of being contaminated with polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. Since petroleum is a form of oil, they are not compatible with condoms, however they are long-lasting.
What’s the average rating of a lube and what people are saying?
Now that you’ve decided on the type of lube you’re going for here’s the 2nd step for how to choose the best lube for sex. In this step what I personally suggest is that you read some reviews about the lubricants that fit your type.
Perfect place to do this is Amazon. Pick the lubricants that have high customer rating – like above 4.2 average score.
Above, you can see as an example the average rating of Aloe Cadabra water-based lube. You can see that the majority of its users has given it the perfect 5 star score, while only few disliked it.
With an average score of 4.7 you can be positive that if you’re searching for a good water based lube, that Aloe Cadabra should not disappoint. This score gives you a general insight of customer satisfaction regarding the product you’re interested in.
It is also wise to scroll down and check, what people are saying about the lube. Sometimes you can find many complaints. Like, the lube is burning or irritating, or that it becomes sticky, etc.
While in other cases, you will find that the feel is great and soothing, that the lube is long lasting, and that it does not get sticky at all.
Anyway, before going to step 3 of our method for choosing the best lube, you should have at least 3 different lubricants qualifying for “round 3”.
Are the lube ingredients safe (according to ewg)?
In previous step you could have learned what customers say about the lube. But now it is also important that you check whether the lube you are getting is made of safe ingredients.
To do that, you should find the ingredients list (most commonly you’ll find it on official site of lube manufacturer) and go to EWG SkinDeep database to see the ingredient safety.
Personally, I never pick a lube that features compounds with EWG hazard score above 3. Always aim for those lubricants that have ingredient score of 1, 2 and max 3.
Image above shows EWG hazard score of Propylparaben, which is a common lube ingredient. It has a function of preservative, but should be at all costs avoided.
Ingredients that should be avoided in lubricants
- DMDM hydantoin,
- Glycerin / Glycerol,
- Petroleum / Petrolatum,
- Butylphenyl methylpropional,
- Propylene glycol,
For complete list of harmful ingredients in lubricants that should be avoided, check this article. There you can find more in-depth info about compounds that may irritate, burn or cause vaginal infections.
Another place that is smart to visit and check ingredient safety is Pubchem. Simply search for the ingredients listed on your lube, and make sure there are no hazard signs (pictograms) in the chemical safety category.
For example, we can see that Propylparaben, which has bad rating at EWG, also has a hazardous pictogram in Pubchem, indication that the compound is irritant.
Some people may not experience any irritation or burning sensations, while those with sensitive skin will definitely have bad experience with such lube.
Now if we check Aloe Cadabra ingredients, here’s what we can find:
• Ingredient 1: Organic Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice
• Ingredient 2: Mixed Tocopherols (Vitamin E Oil)
• Ingredient 3: Xanthan Gum
• Ingredient 4: Citric Acid
• Ingredient 5: Sodium Benzoate (food grade)
• Ingredient 6: Potassium Sorbate (food grade)
• Ingredient 7: Organic Vanilla Planifolia Concentrate
We can see that most ingredients are green (score 1 or 2) while only 1 ingredient is yellow (score 1-3). Most importantly main ingredients (aloe vera) are organic, and most of the ingredients are food grade – If it’s safe to eat, it’s safe for vaginal application.
Another important factor is the number of ingredients – less is more. Always pick a lube with low count of ingredients. Personally, I never go for lubricants with ingredient count higher than 9. Meaning 10 is too many.
What is the osmolality of a lube?
Lube osmolality is another important factor that should be taken into account. What exactly is osmolality? It measures the concentration of dissolved particles per unit of water, and is measured in mOsm/kg.
Natural vaginal osmolality is around 260 – 290 mOsm/kg. And a perfect lube should have an osmolality below the value of 400. There are several studies warning against the use of hyper-osmolar lubricants. Hyper means, high in osmolality – above 1.200 mOsm/kg.
Basically, what hyper-osmolar lube does is:
- dries out skin instead moisturizing it;
- and poses higher threat of infections.
Another thing to note is that an ingredient Propylene glycol is correlated with osmolality. Propylene glycol is mostly featured in hyperosmolar lubes.
You should target hypo-osmolar and iso-osmotic lubricants. Below 1.200 mOsm/kg is OK, while below 400 mOsm/kg is perfect.
Here’s a study warning against the use of hyperosmolar lubricants.
Study clearly shows that hyperosmolar lubricants contribute to development of BV (bacterial vaginosis) and that manufacturers should focus on creating iso- and hypo- osmolar lubes.
Final thoughts on how to choose the best lube for sex
And these were the 5 steps for how to choose the best lube. Basically, this is what works for us. If you stick to the process you should find an appropriate lube for your needs.
It may not be the quickest, however once you master it, it does get simple and easy, but most importantly, it works!
You also may be wondering, whether there are certain household items that are good and safe to be used instead of lube. To give you an answer right away, yes, you can use certain items, that were not originally made to be used as lube.
Here’s our article about what you can use instead of lube. The items we find to be healthy and good (performance-wise) as lube, are:
- Aloe Vera gel
- Coconut oil
- Olive oil
- Cornstarch lube
- Vitamin E oil
- Egg whites
- Almond oil
- Plain yogurt
- Chinese yam
Thank you all very much for reading our content, and I hope it was helpful. We aim to share knowledge when it comes to personal lubricants, without being affiliated with anyone.
We promote products, based on what we think of them and based on what our own experience with that product was. We try to give valuable tips, and here we tried answering the question “How do I choose lube”.
As I said, I hope it’s been helpful and that you find your own perfect lube following our 5-step process for how to choose the best lube for sex.