I firmly believe that lube can be a wonderful addition to any person's sex life. But picking a lube is like picking a fine wine -- there are so many options, ripe for pairing with the perfect main course. Don't just pick something random off the shelf. Here's everything you need to know to make a smart selection.
The Basic Types of Lube
Lubes are generally categorised by their ingredients. Here are the pros and cons of each type:
- Silicone-based lubes last longest and (in my opinion) feel the best against the skin. They're nice and silky without any tacky residue. Silicone-based lubes are great for anal sex, and are safe to use with latex condoms. They can also be used in water, like in the shower. The downside of being so long-lasting is that soap and water can sometimes be required to fully remove silicone-based lubes from your skin and your sheets. You should avoid using silicone lubes with silicone sex toys, as the lube can degrade the silicone in the toy. My holy grail lube is Pjur Original.
- Water-based lubes feel a little thinner and slipperier. They are extremely easy to clean up. Water-based lubes are compatible with silicone sex toys and with latex condoms. They wash away too easily to be used in the tub or shower, and they're also not great for anal sex. Water-based lubes don't last as long as silicone lubes, and they can feel a bit sticky, so they may require multiple applications. I recommend Wicked Aqua, which feels much more like a silicone lube than a water-based one.
- Oil-based lubes include things like coconut oil and olive oil. They can be a nice option for people who are extremely sensitive to chemicals, but they should be thoroughly washed to avoid risk of infection. Oils should also never be used with latex condoms.
- Novelty lubes can include flavoured lubes, warming lubes, so-called "arousal" lubes and desensitising lubes. I'm not a huge fan of any of these types of lubes, as I tend to find them overly chemically and gross smelling and/or tasting, but you might find something you like.
- Natural lubes. There are a handful of products out there that use natural ingredients like Aloe Vera or Carageenan. You can also DIY your own lube.
This information should give you a good sense of the type of lube that is most compatible with your sex life. It's usually best to make your selections based on what activities are part of your sexual repertoire.
Avoid Irritating Ingredients
In some people, lube can trigger adverse reactions like infections and skin irritations in some people. Many people are concerned with the effects of common lube ingredients such as parabens and glycols, so you may want to do some research on your own before making your purchase. In general, I think it's best to exercise more caution with lube than you would with other personal care products since you're using it on the most sensitive part of your body. Avoid any product with perfume, mint, menthol, petroleum, glycerin and cinnamon. Fortunately, most high-quality lubes are made without these ingredients.
Try Before You Buy
Lube is such a personal preference, so it's really helpful to get hands-on with it before forking over your dough. Your friendly local sex shop should have a variety of lubes out for sampling (on your arms, perverts!) Put a drop or two on the back of your palm, and swirl it around for a minute or two with a finger. You want it to feel soft and smooth the whole time. Try a different lube on your other hand so you can compare. Walk around the store for a few minutes, then touch your skin again. If it feels goopy or sticky, or if the product has disappeared entirely, it's probably not a good choice.
Another fantastic option is to purchase lube trial sizes or sample packs. Most brands offer single-use trial size packs, like these from Wicked or these from Good Clean Love. Sliquid sells bundles of their most popular lubricants, so you can try out most of their line. Perhaps the most fun option is to buy a sampler pack from The Condom Review, which will allow you to try out products from a variety of brands.
Make an Investment
You get what you pay for when it comes to lube. Sure, you can buy super cheap lubes from your local drugstore, but it's worth spending a few extra dollars to avoid the sticky mess that is known as KY-Jelly. A little lube goes a long way, so a product that seems expensive initially shoudn't actually cost that much per use. To get the maximum bang for your buck, you can buy lube in large quantities, like this 500ml bottle of Pjur (or you can truly go nuts with this 208-litre, $US1300 barrel of fun).
Keep Your Options Open
There's no need to limit yourself to just one lube either! You might like to have a thicker lube for anal sex, but prefer a thinner one for masturbation. You could keep a bottle of silicone-based lube in your shower, and a sampler pack in your bedside table. I also like this water-based lube that's specially formulated for use with sex toys. It's great to have different options for different activities!