The Best Lubes For Condoms, Sex Toys, Oral, Vaginal And Anal Sex
Yes, you might feel embarrassed, and yes, you’ll probably be confused; although we can pretty much guarantee shop assistants don’t go home at night to dissect the various possibilities for why you’ve bought lube. But if the most exposure you’ve had to what’s available is that small row in your nearest supermarket, you’re going to need some help. Use our guide, so you don’t – or rather – do slip up!
Best For: Condoms
If you use condoms, checking the label is even more important. While condoms are usually somewhat lubricated already, sex that lasts a long time will cause the lubrication to dry out. And guess what? Dry condoms break easily.
Silicone lubricants are not recommended for use with condoms. Some brands have a silicone-hybrid-type formula, which is latex-condom-safe. But the general rule is: if it doesn’t say condom-safe, it probably isn’t.
Oil-based lubes and Vaseline are also incompatible with condoms, because they make them porous, more likely to split, and therefore less safe. They also alter the pH and bacteria levels, which could cause infection. So before you head to the kitchen or your bathroom cabinet to grab a “this’ll do” solution, think again – you may be doing more damage than you know.
Tip: adding a drop or two of lube inside the condom before you unroll it will up your own sensitivity.
Best for: Silicone Toys, Condoms, Sensitive Skin, And To Emulate The Feeling Of Natural Lubrication
Your best bet is going for water-based lubricants. “[They] often provide moisturising qualities, and are highly effective in treating the symptoms of vaginal dryness. Compatible with natural rubber or latex condoms and toys, water-based lubricants are formulated to be pH-balanced and to provide realistic lubrication. While these lubricants are not as long-lasting as some, they offer a more natural base, and are favoured by women for their pH-balancing and ability to prevent thrush and irritation,” says Brodie Meyer, managing director of the luxury online adult store Desir.
Best For: Massage, Long-Lasting Play And Water Play
“Silicone-based lubricants are unique in their structure, in that they contain no water and will not evaporate or dry up quickly. The silicone molecules are larger and are not absorbed into the skin, which results in fewer topical body reactions, irritations and sensitivities. Remember that silicone lubricants are not designed to be used with silicone adult toys, as they degenerate and break down the silicone base – making your toys unsafe and unhygienic,” warns Meyer.
Best For: Oral Sex
You might want to keep a flavoured lube on hand. “For oral sex, you might want to go with just saliva, coconut oil, or a flavoured lube. Some unflavoured lubricants aren’t safe for oral consumption, or just taste pretty awful,” says Catriona Boffard, a clinical sexologist and psychotherapist. “Flavoured lubricants are great for oral sex, but unfortunately they can dry up more quickly when used for vaginal or anal sex, as most are water-based,” she warns. And when it comes to choosing a flavour, the world really is your… Slice of bacon? Sure! You can get anything from strawberry to salted caramel – and even bacon flavour!
Best For: Anal Sex And Anal Play
And then there are lubes designed for anal play. While it’s easy to use too much lube during vaginal intercourse, the threshold with anal sex is much lower, so use a bit more. “Anal lubricants in particular are incredibly specialised in their formulas and consistencies. Unlike the vagina, the anus is not self-lubricating [no matter whether your partner is male or female], and requires additional moisture and lubrication to ensure comfortable penetration and to limit tissue damage within the rectum. With a thicker consistency and a silicone base, anal lubes assist in preventing drying out, and in avoiding abrasions, which may increase your risk of contracting an STI. Most anal lubes have anti-bacterial qualities and are latex-friendly, allowing safe condom play,” explains Meyer.
Best For: Avoiding At All Costs
Of course, while some lubes are meant to cause sensations and tingles, some may not agree with your body. It’s a good idea to test-drive the product before you dive straight in. And we’re not talking about some public rendezvous with your significant other that could get you arrested in the middle of Clicks; just do a patch test before using your lube for real.
Your lube should not cause you any discomfort whatsoever. And while the moment might be heated, a burning sensation is a dead giveaway that you should stop using that lube immediately.
“Even the best lubes can create a burning sensation. This could be due to the inclusion of parabens, or it could include products such as glycerin or sugar; it may indicate a yeast infection in women; it may contain alcohol as a base; or it may point to an underlying bacterial infection.
“In all instances, avoid using that lubricant altogether, and try more gentle alternatives, made of body-safe ingredients and designed for more sensitive skin. Persistent burning or discomfort should be seen to by your general practitioner,” advises Meyer.
And as you’re checking the ingredient list and nutritional value of all the food items going into your basket, you should be checking your lube, too. “Parabens have recently become a big no-no when it comes to lube ingredients. They’re often the cause of skin rashes; it’s also been found that parabens disrupt the endocrine system. Anything that starts with ethyl-, methy-, propyl-, isopropyl, butyl- or isobutyl- should be steered away from,” Meyer says.
So there you have it, the user’s guide to lube. But if you’re not into having a pharmacy-sized selection of lubes to choose from, your best bet is a hybrid lubricant. The most important thing to remember is that everyone is different. What works for someone else might not work for you, but you’ll only find that out through trial and error – which means it’s time to lube up!