Choosing The Best Lube:
The Ultimate Personal Lubricant Guide
Written by: Don Watson | Updated: December 28th, 2018
The right amount of lubrication is the difference between a lackluster session and a wet 'n' wild experience in the bedroom.
Women naturally lubricate their vaginas in response to sexual stimulation. However, sometimes what comes naturally just isn't enough. There's a risk of creating a feedback loop if a woman isn't being pleasured resulting in her vagina producing less lubricant, ending in her not getting enough pleasure because there isn't enough lubricant. A wet pussy is a happy pussy.
Lube is an inexpensive and highly effective way to skyrocket your sexual pleasure through the roof. Think of un-lubricated sex like a small child hitting the strength tester at the fun fair and lubricated sex like a bodybuilder hitting that strength tester creating the loudest ding possible.
I recommend against using this guide to buy the largest vats of lube possible at a single time, the general rule of thumb to always have fresh lube is to never buy more than you plan to use in a single year. Unsealed lube can have a shelf-life of up to several years, depending on composition.
Not all lube is created equal, however. The starting point for picking the best lube is figuring out what you want it to be predominantly based from, as they all have their pros and cons.
From there, you can figure out which lube you would like for specific sex acts.
Let's get down to business, shall we?
Types Of Lube
Oil-based lubes are made predominantly of mineral oils, petroleum jellies, or even plant-based oils like coconut oil. Vaseline is the most prevalent example of an oil-based lube.
So, why would anyone choose an oil-based lube? Oil-based lubes are typically very inexpensive, extremely easy to locate and purchase, do not dry out easily, and have a desirable texture & slippery feel to them that does not go away easily which means you get more use out of oil-based lubes before having to reapply more. As many oil-based lubes are also sold as skin moisturizers, this is desirable to those who'd like to moisturize their skin as well as get some action.
The drawbacks of oil-based lubes can be numerous depending on your tastes, however. The biggest and most pertinent issue with oil-based lubes is that latex condoms will degrade upon exposure, this means that the probability of the condom breaking is raised exponentially. Even leftover lubricant from the night before when used only with sex toys is enough to significantly impair the structural integrity of a latex condom. To avoid this issue, polyurethane condoms are recommended. 99% of oil-based lubes also taste atrocious, so once you apply them oral is usually out of the question. One of the advantages of oil-based lubes is also a great disadvantage, let me explain: as oil-based lubes remain on the skin much longer than other lubricants, having excess lube on your body can both provide a breeding ground for bacteria who use the ingredients as a food source as well as clog pores in very sensitive areas of both the male and female anatomy. With some oils such as almond oil, allergies come into play and there is nothing sexy about anaphylactic shock. Lastly, certain oils have a short shelf life and degraded oils are not something you want in or around your body for safety reasons.
I would recommend an oil-based lube if condoms are not an issue and longevity of application is important to you. Here are some of the best oil-based lubes available for purchase:
Viva Naturals Organic Coconut Oil is straight up coconut oil of the non-sexual variety, but I can assure you it's a total knockout in the bedroom. If anyone remembers the fad about two years ago where everyone was rubbing it on their body or eating it, all that I can say is rub this on your sex life and you won't be disappointed.
Boy Butter, besides being hilariously named, lasts really long and doesn't feel as harsh as most oil-based lubricants. Any stains are very hard to pick out and come out easily after a single wash. Don't put it on your toast.
YES Personal Lubricant
YES Personal Lubricant's oil-based formula lasts much longer than its water-based equivalent without drying out and my wife frequently uses it as a moisturizer for reasons other than sex. She's very sensitive to certain chemicals in oil-based lubes and there was no allergic reaction when we used YES lube.
Simply Slick is great for those prone to yeast infections as its formula was designed specifically to not be beneficial to foreign bacterial colonies. They also state that they are the only oil-based lube compatible with all condoms as all of the ingredients are natural. I'm not entirely sure about that, but it is definitely much softer and natural feeling than most of the oil-based lubes we've tried.
Coconu takes coconut oil and refines it to be much better suited for sex. We like it as a pre-game massage oil and the taste isn't horrible either. Coconu is great if a burning sensation is frequently reported by you or your partner during sex with lubricant, as none of the ingredients are commonly known to irritate the skin.
Water-based lube is predominantly made up of well, water. These are the most common type of lubricants as they are typically just water with some added thickening agents to make the lube stay fresh and slick for as long as possible.
The biggest advantage of water-based lube is that it will not degrade latex condoms so you can have safe sex worry free if you make use of water-based lubes. As water-based lubricants have less miscellaneous ingredients added to them, those with sensitive skin tend to tolerate water-based lubricants much more than any other variety of lube. Water-based lube comes with essentially no safety disclaimers and is safe for all forms of sexual play, making it an ideal choice when you want to keep everything on the table.
Where water-based lube does not shine is in the departments of texture and longevity. As the primary ingredient is water, there is a "wet" feeling but not necessarily one of greased slickness, water-based lubes are the least slick of all types. Water-based lubes also need to be frequently reapplied as they tend to dry out easily and they remove themselves from the skin with minimal effort.
My recommendation is that water-based lubes be used by those who want to use a lube with any sex toy of any material, would like to use condoms, and don't mind having to reapply from time to time. The best water-based lubes in my opinion are as follows:
Yes Water-Based Lube
Yes Water-Based Lube is a fantastic choice since it is 100% body safe with no petrochemicals, perfumes, or parabens. It is entirely natural, watch out though, it can sometimes be hard to get the right amount you want as opposed to a geyser of lube.
Aloe Cadabra is another natural lubricant. It doesn't taste too bad actually and lasts longer than a lot of other water-based lubes. You can even use it if you get sunburned after enjoying its other use at the beach.
Nooky Lube is great if sheet-staining is the last thing you want from your lube. It washes away easy, has no scent or odor or even taste for that matter. What I like most about this lube is that once it dries there isn't a lingering "ick" factor that makes me usually rush to the shower.
AdoreLubes is much more viscous than typical water-based lubes, so it much easier to keep this lube confined to only where you want it to go compared to other choices in this category.
Paloqueth lube made me re-read the ingredients on the back to make sure it's not actually an oil lube, what I thought was a reasonable amount ended up being way too much!
A little goes a long way with this lube, do not apply liberally.
Silicone-based lubes are a relatively new addition to the industry of personal lubricants. These lubes are known for their slickness and superb longevity.
I recommend silicone-based lubes to those who would like the attractive qualities of both oil and water-based lubes with very few drawbacks. Most brands of silicone-based lubes are safe to use with latex condoms (check the label!). Seldom have I ever had to reapply a silicone-based lube, it is not water soluble and stays on the skin for a considerable amount of time. Of all lubes, silicone is also has the most appealing feel and texture, viscous enough for the job at hand but not gross feeling. Silicone-based lubes are also hypoallergenic, but make sure to check the label just to be sure.
There are some downsides to silicone-based lubes, however. If you apply a silicon-based lube to a silicone-based sex toy, a chemical reaction will take place when contact is made that will result in the destruction of the toy and possible health ramifications for the user if this happens while the toy is inside the body. These lubes also typically cannot be found in stores and command a higher price than both oil and water-based lubes of similar volume and purpose.
Silicone-based lubes should be employed by those who don't intend to use silicone-based sex toys and those who dislike having to constantly reapply lube to keep things flowing. My favorite silicone-based lubes are as follows:
#LubeLife is our go-to for anal play. It is very thick which provides sort of a protective layer between the penis and the anal cavity and one generous application nearly always lasts the whole session.
SWISS NAVY always gives me a kick because of the implication that seamen are into butt stuff and need some help compared to the Swiss Army that needs knives. No offense to our armed forces, I just can't help but giggle. It is clear, odorless, and nearly flavorless so it fits the bill as a great non-staining silicone lube. I find this lube is best for the shower or bathtub, it takes a lot of effort to wash this stuff out during shower play.
Pink Lube is a favorite of my wife because of the pretty bottle, but also because of it's natural skin-feel. Out of all silicone lubes, this is the one she says tastes the best. The only downside is the bottle does leak if not stored in the upright position.
There are some sub-types of lubes available that I feel are worth mentioning as they are specifically geared to solve certain issues that plague thousands of people in the bedroom, here are just a few:
- Desensitizing lubes: Desensitizing lube's purpose is to reduce the amount of sensation felt by the man during sex so he lasts longer. If you are a male and your partner wishes you lasted longer in bed, a desensitizing gel/spray can come in handy. The most hassle-free & comfortable desensitizing lube that I've used is the Promescent Prolonging Delay Spray since minimal amounts are needed and next to none is transferred to your partner, meaning it only affects the person it's been sprayed on.
- Flavored lube: Some partners can be apprehensive about oral sex because they are turned off by either the smell or taste of their partner's genitals, this is something they have no control over. Using flavored lube can turn a partner who is usually apprehensive about oral into someone hungry for more. The best tasting lube in my (and my wife's) opinion is the Crazy Girl (Cotton Candy) flavored lube as it tastes nice but isn't overpowering.
- Warming lube: The word that best describes my experience with warming lube is "comfy." Warming lube creates an exothermic reaction upon contact with the skin and warms the body. Whether this is for internal use or to spread on your partner's ears or other erogenous zones, warming lube can make both partners feel a greater range of sensation both above or below the belt. It is worth noting that those with allergies should avoid warming lube as these tend to be the most common types of lubes involved in allergic reactions. A great warming lube is Ultra Heat by Wicked if you want to get started turning things up in the bedroom.
- Cum lube: The name itself kind of says it all really. This lube is designed to mimic the look, texture and sometimes even taste of semen. There are plenty of different types of cum lube, I've written a guide that goes over all of the most realistic fake cum products I've tried. It's mainly used with sex toys like squirting dildos, which I've written about here.
Best Lubes For Sex
So now that we've gone over all of the different types of lube, which works best for which sexual act? Not all lubes are created equal and every sex act has its own set of precautions or concerns surrounding it.
Lubes For Masturbation
There are a staggering amount of advantages to picking up some good lubricant besides Vaseline if you're flying solo. From a health perspective, it's much better for the nerve endings in the male penis because there is less friction and chafing of the skin. Years of dry masturbation can actually create a black purple/brown discoloration on the shaft of the penis, typically thumb shaped but there is variance obviously.
From the male perspective, some lubricant means that it's harder to stimulate just a small portion of the penis since of all the slipping and sliding. From a female perspective, some lubricant makes down there much more comfortable and acclimated to sexual stimulation. For purely digital (no toys) stimulation, the best lube need not worry about condoms or sex toys, the best lube shouldn't be messy, overpriced, underwhelming, or bad for your body.
With all of the above in mind, I recommend YES Oil-Based Personal Lubricant because it is one of the safest oil-based lubes on the market and lasts more than enough time. I can usually get all of it off with a damp rag and minimal effort afterward.
Lubes For Masturbation (With Toys)
When the toys come out of the war chest, you better have the right lube to go with it.
The recommendation I'm going to give for masturbation with sex toys is under the assumption it's solo play, so condoms deteriorating is not something I'm factoring in. I'm going to recommend two different types here, however. The first will be oil-based and compatible with all toys, and the second will be silicone-based and not compatible with any silicone toys.
Firstly, Simply Slick wins in the oil-based category because it is specially formulated to not contribute to yeast infections and can be used with all toys. It provides a great slippery feel on silicone and glass based toys that has become nigh-essential to my wife's bedtime routine.
Our silicone-based recommendation is none other than SWISS NAVY Personal Lubricant, mainly because the odorless and clear formulation doesn't leave a trace of what it was just used for no matter how raunchy things happened to get. The slick feel has major staying power on top of that.
Lubes For Vaginal Sex
The vagina is self-lubricating, so some of the work is done naturally. The vagina can't get wet on command, however, and sometimes some outside help is required.
The ideal lube for vaginal sex should be non-toxic, easy to remove from all external and internal body parts, and should not interfere with the use of condoms. It is for this reason that I highly recommend a water-based lube, as vagina should mitigate the need to reapply lube constantly, and water-based lubes give complete peace of mind as nearly nothing can go wrong using them for this purpose.
The best lube for sex that I've found is YES Water-Based Lube because you can use a little or you can use a lot without having to worry about over-application. It mimics a woman's natural juices very nicely and we call it our ripcord for sex because once it goes on, someone is getting off.
Lubes For Anal Sex
The anus is not self-lubricating and is not intended by evolution to be a sexual organ. However, females enjoy anal stimulation immensely and many men enjoy the stimulation of their prostates (sometimes referred to as the male g-spot), making anal sex a treat to many. However, care must be taken to ensure the receiving anus is taken care of properly.
The best anal lube is extremely slick and slippery and does not need to constantly be reapplied. Silicone lubricant fits the bill extremely well for anal sex. As silicone-based lubes retain their slippery feel for a long time, there's no worrying of the lube drying out and causing discomfort for either party. Most silicone lubes are compatible with latex condoms, further cementing silicone lubes as the definite choice for anal play.
For anal sex specifically, the best choice of lube is #LubeLife Anal Lube because it brings the chances of hurting the anal canal to near zero and personally, there were only two occasions where I had to reapply (I can trust my memory on this one, memorable is definitely how to describe those two occasions).
Lubes For Oral Sex
Not many people tend to think about using any lube at all for oral sex, but adding in a dime-sized drop of the right lubricant can make someone who typically doesn't enjoy oral sex into a complete fiend. The smell and taste of genitalia isn't appealing to everybody, so the right lube can make all of the difference.
The best choices in lube for oral sex are non-toxic, flavorful but not overpowering, and are of a light enough consistency. A flavored water-based lube is the ideal choice for use in oral. Water-based lubes are safe to consume, easy to clean up, and make the experience much more enjoyable.
The best tasting lubricant in my (and my wife's) opinion is Strawberry Kisses because it's in her words: "like a penis butter and jam sandwich."
So, let's sum up the three main types of lubricant and their ideal purposes:
- Oil-based lube: not to be used with latex condoms (polyurethane condoms are fine, but uncommon), don't need to be reapplied frequently and is best suited for use with sex toys
- Water-based lube: water-based lubes are non-toxic, inexpensive, and do not degrade latex condoms. Water-based lube is best suited for vaginal intercourse or when frequently having to apply lube won't be an issue
- Silicone-based lube: this lube is suited for those who seek great gliding texture and don't enjoy having to reapply lube, it is not to be used with silicone-based sex toys as the toy will be ruined. The best use for silicone-based lube is anal play, shower play (silicone-based lubes are not water soluble), and for those who don't mind a slightly higher price point for their sex supplies
I hope this guide is useful in helping you select the best lube for the job. The use of lube can catapult your sexual experiences into a whole new dimension, and somewhere out there is the perfect lube for everyone.
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