Lube – It Pays to Be Prepared (And Safe!)
In my last post, I talked a bit about flavored water-based lubricants. Today, I’m going to discuss the many other kinds of personal lubricants and what to look for (and what to avoid!) when choosing a lube that’s right for you.
The first thing to consider when choosing a lube is the base. There are three main bases for lube: Water, Silicone and Oil. There are also hybrid lubricants to consider.
- Water-based lubes are just that…it’s key ingredient is water! They can typically be an all-natural choice and are safe with silicone toys and latex condoms. Water based lubes feel the most like natural lubrication, but have a tendency to get sticky or dry out…they can, however, be easily reactivated with saliva or water, and it washes off easier than silicone or oil, so it isn’t recommended for shower play.
- Silicone-based lubricant is made with three or four ingredients (popularly dimethicone, dimethiconol, cyclopentasiloxane or cyclotetrasiloxane) and are formulated to last much longer than water-based lubes. Silicone lubes are waterproof, tend to feel silky and allow for a much smoother glide. Silicone lubes are safe for use with condoms, but not with silicone toys. Silicone lubricants will actually bond to the silicone toy and degrade the material, allowing bacterial growth in the material.
- Oil-based lubes contain natural oils such as coconut oil, vitamin E oil, or petroleum (like Vaseline) and can be especially tricky to find one that’s safe and effective. Oil based lubes are also NOT latex compatible or silicone friendly. Lubricants coat the anus or vagina, and prevent your body from naturally cleaning itself. Oil-based lubricants should never be used on sex toys.
- Hybrid lubes are generally water and silicone blends to create a lubricant that is silky like silicone, but washes off easier like water based lubes. Some hybrid lubricants are safe for use with silicone toys… always make sure you do a patch test on your toys before coating it completely!
Rectal and especially vaginal skin is extremely absorbent, so once you got your base covered, the next step is learning which ingredients might not be so friendly to your skin.
For anal use, it is recommended you stick with lubes specifically formulated for anal sex. Silicone is the most popular format for anal lube, as it stays slick longer (and because the bum isn’t self-lubricating like the vagina, long lasting slickness is important) generally has a thicker buffer. Silicone also creates a bit of a barrier between users, so there’s a decreased risk in HIV transmission. Tons of anal lubes contain desensitizing agents like benzocaine or lidocaine. It’s advisable to steer clear of desensitizing lubes if you’re a bum-beginner… after all, pain is the body’s way of saying “stop! something’s wrong!” and these products can make it easier to damage the body during play. Some anal lubes may contain ginseng or jojoba to help relax the skin and allow more comfort during penetration…these are botanical ingredients and are perfectly body safe.
Some dangerous ingredients to watch out for include glycerin, glucose and any other sugars; parabens (like methylparaben or propylparaben); petrochemicals (like petroleum or petroleum derived chemicals); phenoxyethanol; alcohols; gylcols; and chlorhexidine.
As I mentioned in my last post, glycerin, glucose or any other sweeteners are huge no-nos for vaginal sex. They create a perfect breeding ground for bacterial growth and increase the risk of yeast infections when introduced to the vagina. Glycerin, an alcohol sugar, can be very irritating to most women.
Parabens are especially dangerous to the body. Parabens are known carcinogens, and as such can help contribute to skin cancers. Parabens have also been linked to decrease in sperm count in men, altered estrogen levels in women, and the disruption of normal fetal development in pregnant women. Now granted, most paraben-containing lubricants use such a small amount of parabens that perhaps no damage could be done, but why take the risk? There are so many wonderful lubes that are 100% paraben free!
Petroleum and other petrochemicals are hyperosmolar, a fancy way of saying they pull water from the cellular wall and cause cellular damage. Too much osmolarity, and you experience massive cellular death. Sounds fun, right? To put it all in perspective, KY brand Warming Jelly (for example) has an osmolarity 30x greater than the body’s natural fluids. This can increase transmission of STDs/STIs, such as the herpes virus, about 9x more when compared to those who use no lubricant at all. Most “drug store” lubricants contain petrochemicals…these include Astroglide, WET brand, KY brand (especially their warming lubricants) and Vaseline. In my opinion, these three personal lubricants are the absolute worst for your body. Take my advice and steer clear of them whenever possible.
Propylene Glycol is an organically made compound that can cause tissue irritation and burning, especially when introduced to sensitive genital skin.
Chlorhexidine is used in cleaners and also as an antiseptic. Some lubes use it as a preservative, but it can actually disrupt the natural flora of the vagina (think like using alcohol) and in doing so, can really irritate sensitive skin and increase the risk of contracting STIs. KY brand lubricants are known to contain chlorhexidine…just another reason to avoid them!
Although primarily used as a spermicide found in condoms or other barrier contraceptives, nonoxynol-9 (N-9) can also be found in certain lubricants. Some caution should be had when decided whether or not N-9 is right for you…for instance, N-9 can be slightly effective as a secondary contraceptive, but it does NOT help prevent HPV, HIV or any other STI or STD. It is safe if only used for women at low risk of HIV/STIs who do not use it more than once a day. N-9 should also NEVER be used rectally.
So which lubes are still safe and effective? Blue Boutique takes great pride in carrying a huge selection of healthy and high quality lubricants…all for extremely affordable prices! Here’s some of our personal favorites:
- Naturally Yours mimics natural lubrication, doesn’t get tacky or sticky, and can be used as a natural “personal” moisturizer.
- Sliquid H2o and Sliquid Sea is vegan friendly lube made with plant cellulose for a thicker buffer and only contains 4 ingredients, all of which are completely body safe! Sea contains three types of seaweed: carageenan, a plant cellulose that mimics the chemical make-up of the Human Pappilomavirus, effectively helping protect against the transmission of HPV; Wakame, a seaweed that contains B vitamins and reduces inflammation while improving the elasticity of skin; and Nori, an algae that “prevents oxidation of the skin and is a very effective natural moisturizer”.
- Uberlube remains slick for as long as it is being manipulated…as soon as you stop applying friction to it, Uberlube dissipates into the skin and conditions it with vitamin E. In other words, Uberlube is there as long as you need it, and unlike most silicone lubes, won’t leave you slick and greasy until you wash it off.
- Pjur Original is a fan-favorite….feels luxurious, lasts forever, never greasy and completely body safe. Because the formula is super concentrated, a little bit goes a long way, and one bottle will last you a loooooooong time.
- Pink for Women is formulated with sensitive female skin in mind… it’s got a slightly thinner viscosity, so it mimics natural lubrication while lasting much longer than natural lubrication does. It’s also fortified with aloe vera, vitamin E and other botanical ingredients.
- System JO Premium is on the other side of the spectrum… with a thicker viscosity, it is a favorite for men and is also waterproof. System JO is also FDA approved and most recommended by doctors and pharmacists.
- Coconu Oil-Based Lubricant is really the only oil-based lube I feel 100% confident in recommending for penetrative sex. It contains coconut, sunflower seed, and almond oils. It’s completely organic, vegan friendly, and doesn’t contain petrochemicals, parabens, gluten, glycerin, fragrances, dyes and most importantly, NO PETROLEUM. It’s edible, too!
- System JO Hybrid is a 50/50 blend of JO Premium and JO H2O. JO’s hybrid is not recommended for use with silicone toys, but it feels great and washes off much easier than silicone.
- Sliquid Silk Hybrid is a 88/12% blend of Sliquid’s Natural H2O water based and Silver silicone, with creamy emollient esters added in. It feels and looks like lotion, and moisturizes the skin just so. Safe for use with toys, but as always, do a patch test first.
- SPUNK Pink Hybrid is a glycerin-free “water-based silicone” blend that, like all of SPUNK’s lubes, looks and feels like ejaculate, adding a bit of natural kink to any situation! SPUNK Pink Hybrid is safe for use on all materials, including PVC, ABS, TPR, TPE, latex, silicone, rubber, glass, etc.
If you’re still not sure what lube is perfect for you, please feel free to ask any Blue Boutique employee for a bit more information or to try any of our testers…let our experienced associates show you what a difference high quality lube will make in your love life!