Here we’ll cover lube basics that every (new) lube user should be aware of.
Personal lubricants can be an amazing addition for improving your sex-life, but when chosen wrongly, these fancy bottles can also make your sexual experience a living hell.
A bad lube will not only make sex uncomfortable, but can also result in:
- Skin irritations and itching;
- Burning sensations;
- Infections (yeast infection, bacterial vaginosis, …)
That is why it is essential to get familiar with basics, the do’s and don’ts, the ingredients, and to fully understand how different types of lube work.
We will here share, within this article, basic knowledge about lubricants, so that you’ll be able to pick the lube that suits your personal needs best. From performance, safety and health perspective.
The purpose of this article is to create helpful content for all our readers trying to figure out how to get that amazing silky glide, by getting familiar with basic knowledge around intimate lubricants.
Thanks for reading lubeforsex.com, and here come the 5 basic things everyone should know about lube!
1. What is a lube?
The word “lube” refers to personal lubricants, which are used to improve couple’s intimate activities by providing a better/wetter sexual experience without unwanted friction.
The most misguided opinions about the use of personal lubricants are:
- That only horny, dirty teenagers are using lube.
- Or that merely women in menopause may use lube for treating vaginal dryness.
Everyone can (and should) use a lube. Why? – Because when you find the lube that suits you best, sexual pleasure can really be elevated to another level.
Sexual safety is another good reason. Using lube prevents skin lacerations and infections that can result due to it. Especially when there’s anal sex involved, lube is a must.
And don’t tell me that you wouldn’t enjoy lubing up your partners entire body. Gently rubbing that lube all over him / her, can build that suspense and desire, providing for astonishing foreplay, which we tend to skip all to often.
If you’re not a regular lube user, rethink and perhaps try it – Give this small bottle a chance. It can spice up your sex life and help improve intimate relationship with your partner.
2. What are the different types of lube?
There are so many options available on the market. If you type “lube” into Amazon search engine, it returns over 10.000 results.
However, we can merge all these products into 4 different categories. Each category presents a type of lube, and each type shares similar properties. You can read our comprehensive article on different lube types here.
2.1 Water based lube
Water-based lubricant is the type of lube that is probably the most popular. This must be because they are thought to be the safest. Water (h2o) is the key ingredient in this case. While other substances are added to achieve that slippery glide.
Water-based lubricants are safe to be used with all types of condoms and toys. This is mainly the reason, why they are so popular.
Performance-wise, H2O lubes indeed do have a few downsides:
- They tend to dry out too fast;
- Some get sticky, which is the opposite of what users expect from a good lube;
- Many include toxic ingredients that are harmful to your sexual well-being.
In order to find a good, long-lasting, ingredient-friendly water based lube, you need to be familiar with the ingredients. You can check our comprehensive lube assessment of the best and safest lubricants, to get an idea of which lubricants are recommended (from health and performance perspective).
Another thing to note is that water-based lubricants have flavors added in some cases. You can get practically anything: vanilla, cherry, strawberry, etc. While it does sound tempting to get your favorite scent combined with your favorite lube, we strongly advise that you should avoid flavored & scented lubes – as a general rule.
For these flavors are not natural! They are mostly cheap artificial flavors, with a bunch of sweeteners added into the combination. This will make the lube go sticky, and this will promote Candida overgrowth. Candida species feed on sugar, which can lead to yeast infection.
It is always best to seek for a lube that has fewer ingredients (no more than 6-7), and which is clear, tasteless and odorless.
2.2 Petroleum based lube
Petroleum-based lubricants feature petrolatum as one of the ingredients. You may find them labeled as “mineral oil”, “petroleum-jelly”, “petrolatum”, etc. Petrolatum is made from petroleum (the same thing gasoline is produced from). Wondering if that can be healthy in any way? – Of course not.
All ingredients that are derived from petroleum, have possibility of being contaminated with PAHs (polyaromatic hydrocarbons). Most common being Benzo[a]pyrene (listed as group1 carcinogen) and Dibenz[a,h]anthracene (mutagen and human carcinogen).
Petroleum based products are widely used in skin care, because once applied to the skin they form an impermeable layer on top of your skin, sealing in all the moisture. Making your skin look nice, soft and moist. This is however merely a short term effect.
In the long run your skin may lose its ability to produce moist by itself, naturally. While as a consequence of locking moist beneath your skin, you also prevent anything bad going out, and anything good getting in. Skin should be able to breath, that’s how human body is designed.
Applying such compound to your intimate parts, will provide for a good slippery feeling nonetheless. But health-wise, with long-term use, you are risking your health. It is therefore recommended, to stay away from petroleum based products.
2.3 Oil based lube
Oil-based lubes and natural oils are pretty great when it comes to getting that slippery glide. This is because oil is by itself a preservative, therefore this type doesn’t need all those nasty chemicals for prolonging shelf life.
You will recognize this type of lube by being labeled with: “it contains the oil of xyz” – xyz being “coconut”, “almond”, “vitamin E”, Etc.
As a reference you can check this YES OB lube on Amazon (YES Oil Based organic plant oil natural personal lubricant). You can see it contains all kinds of oils and butters: Cocoa butter, Shea butter, Almond Oil, Sunflower oil, White organic bees wax and Vitamin E. Sounds pretty healthy, doesn’t it?
Oil based lubricants are usually healthy and safe to use. They don’t contribute to any sort of infections, they even tend to work against them. Oil does get absorbed by the skin, which works beneficial to the health of your skin.
But most importantly, oils are long-lasting, and they never get sticky. Very small amount (merely a drop) can last for as long as 30 minutes. So basically oil-based lube will perform well and can be very healthy. How come everyone doesn’t use them?
First – oils aren’t compatible with condoms. And second – some people just don’t like the feel. I always suggest that a person should initially buy 3 lubes: 1 water-based, 1 oil-based and 1 silicone-based. Try them all, and decided which one feels best for you. For the type you find to be the most pleasurable, you should continue experimenting within that category.
PS: THC oil lubricants are getting trendy lately. Women are reporting some fantastic results with this type. A famous THC lubricant is Foria Pleasure, which is based on cannabis oil and coconut oil. If you aren’t in the process of searching for a new job, go ahead and try it!
2.4 Silicone based lube
Silicone based intimate lubricants are made from synthetic silicone ingredients. That doesn’t necessarily make them bad. Most ingredients that are featured in high quality silicone-based lubricants, are not harmful.
The main ingredient in silicone-based lube is Dimethicone. And the fewer ingredients that the lube has the better. If you find a silicone-based lube with Dimethicone and maybe another 2-3 ingredients, you should go for it.
However, always check ewg.org Skin Deep database for ingredient hazard level. If all ingredients are below level 3 (1 = safest, 10 = worst) then you’re on the safe side. Also keep attention that none of the ingredients have a defined concern of being a possible irritant suspect.
Silicone-based lubricants are pretty awesome:
- They are long-lasting and don’t dry up;
- They usually don’t get sticky;
- They don’t get rinsed by water, so you can use a silicone lube for shower sex.
- They do not get absorbed into skin (well, very minimal amount does).
If you are tempted to try a silicone-based lube, here are (in our opinion) two of the very best options you have [links to Amazon]: 1st is Uberlube luxury lubricant. 2nd is Penchant Premium for sensitive skin. Both are extremely satisfying and people say these two are world class.
They are amazing, long-lasting, great for massaging your partners entire body, and edible (in small amounts). Limitations you have to be aware of when it comes to silicone-based lubricants, is that they can’t be used with silicone toys. On top of that, they also can’t be used with polyurethane condoms (they are however safe with latex and polyisoprene condoms).
3. What kind of lube is best for condoms?
When wondering about what lube is safe with condoms, it is best to check into the types of lube. Usually (in 99% of all cases) the bellow rules can be applied:
- Oil-based lubricants are NOT safe with any condom material;
- Petroleum-based lubricants are also NOT safe with condoms;
- Silicone-based lubricants are NOT safe with polyurethane condoms (OK with other materials);
- Water-based lubricants are OK with all materials (latex, polyurethane, and polyisoprene).
Every lubricant has specifications defined – usually at the back of the bottle or packaging box. If not, check their website, and you will 100% surely find the information regarding whether the lube in question is safe to be used with condoms.
For example, when I was making a homemade cornstarch lube (which is in general a water-based lube) people would obviously presume that my lube is safe with condoms. But it’s not. Because if you had paid close attention, I added a small amount of coconut oil in the process of making it.
When you are going for a lube and know in advance that you might be using condoms, the safest choice are water-based lubes, and sometimes also silicone-based ones.
4. Which are the harmful lube ingredients to avoid?
Yeah, this is an important chapter indeed. How many cases we can think of when people were reporting issues with a certain lube. And if they were to know these ingredients, that could be prevented upfront.
Lots of personal lubricants feature toxic lube ingredients, which you should be avoided at all costs. Most of these ingredients are preservatives and serve no other function than prolonging the shelf life of the product.
Here are 15 harmful lube ingredients to stay away from:
- Glycerin [C3H8O3] – Causes yeast infections;
- Flavors [n/a] – Cause yeast infection;
- Propylene Glycol [C3H8O2] – Irritant;
- Methylparaben [C8H8O3] – Endocrine disruption and irritation;
- Propylparaben [C10H12O3] – Endocrine disruption and irritation;
- Butylparaben [C11H14O3] – Endocrine disruption and irritation;
- Petrolatum [n/a] – Possible contamination with PAHs;
- Paraffinum Liquidum [CnH2n+2] – Possible contamination with PAHs;
- Lilial [C14H20O] – Skin sensitizer, irritant and endocrine disruptor;
- Diazolidinyl Urea [C8H14N4O7] – Formaldehyde releaser, carcinogen, irritant;
- Imidazolidinyl Urea [C11H16N8O8] – Formaldehyde releaser, carcinogen, irritant;
- DMDM Hydantoin [C7H12N2O4] – Formaldehyde releaser, carcinogen, irritant;
- Tetrasodium EDTA [C10H16N2O8] – Creation involves formaldehyde and sodium cyanide;
- Benzocaine [C9H11NO2] – Irritant and anesthetic;
- Quaternium-15 [C9H16Cl2N4] – Formaldehyde releaser, carcinogen, irritant.
I notice that majority of lube users don’t really pay attention to the backside label of their lube (that’s where the ingredients are listed). Many trust the big front label, where by all honesty can be written just about anything – “your perfect lube”, “the best lube”, “lube for sensitive skin”, “fertility friendly lube”, and the list goes on.
The above list of harmful lube ingredients can help you recognize unwanted suspects faster. And if you want to be 100% sure about ingredient friendliness of your lube, search for the ingredients through ewg.org database and make sure that all ingredients are hazard level 3 or below.
This is how you will end up with the best lube – However, the search will not be easy! If you’d like, you can try some of our recommendations, of which all are ingredient friendly.
5. What can I use instead of lubricant?
We have recently covered the healthiest household items you can use as lube in another article. You are welcome to check it out if you’d like to get familiar with details.
Lots of natural stuff can in-fact serve as a good lube alternative. For example; Aloe Vera is known for its medicinal properties and the gel, which lies within the aloe leaves, can be turned into a lube.
To sum it up, here are the healthiest lube alternatives (Do’s):
- Aloe Vera gel;
- Coconut oil;
- Olive oil;
- Cornstarch lube;
- Vitamin E oil;
- Eggs (egg whites);
- Sweet almond oil;
- Plain yogurt;
- Chinese yam.
All the above household items are safe (and healthy) lube substitutes. You may use them at will when you’re out of your favorite personal lubricant.
Just keep in mind that when it comes to oils, that you should always go with cold-pressed natural oils. These are usually marked as “extra-virgin”, which marks the highest quality of an oil. This type of oil contains the highest amount of vitamins and nutrition. When absorbed, it provides for healing and soothing effect, which highly benefits your skin.
And here are the items that should never be used instead of lube (Don’ts):
- Butter and margarine;
- Baby oil;
- Other petroleum-based products;
- Cooking oil;
- Most body lotions;
Keep in mind that some of these “bad” items may work just fine when used as lube, but health wise they are not advised to be applied to your private parts.
For example, Vaseline is known for its use when it comes to anal penetration. Using it once may not harm you. But repeated use is not recommended. Using improper lubricant you are risking chance of catching an STD (sexually transmitted disease).
Being severely processed, petroleum-jelly doesn’t contain any nutritional value whatsoever. Even more alarming is the fact that products containing petroleum-jelly, have risk of being contaminated with PAHs (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons), which are carcinogens. It is best to keep petroleum-jelly away from your intimate parts.
Petroleum is used for gasoline production. I just don’t believe it is smart to apply that same source to your most sensitive skin and intimate parts.
While anything with sugar inside (honey, syrup, etc.) can contribute to developing yeast infection.
Thank you for reading our article 5 Basic Things Everyone Should Know About Lube. Hope that it will help you find your perfect lube ASAP! For any additional questions, leave us a comment below.