How To Choose The Right Sexual Lubricant For Your Needs

Clseup man holding the condom on the thumb

People who use lube have better sex. It eases penetration and makes playing so much more enjoyable - with or without sex toys. It’s the easiest and cheapest way to make every sexual experience you have smoother and more pleasurable. Here's how to choose the best product for your needs - from anal lubricants to sense-altering liquids.

Even if you feel that your body is doing a great job without any assistance, you might be missing out on reams of extra pleasure without knowing it. Research carried out among shoppers at Lovehoney found that over 70 per cent of women feel that sexual experiences are more satisfying with lube.

It’s become such a commonplace accessory that you’ll have even seen it in supermarkets and pharmacies. But you might not be sure which type you should be going for, as there’s a wide choice out there.

The best way to look at it is that there are three main "standard" choices: water-based, silicone and anal lubes, all of which add extra slipperiness. In addition to the above, there are lubes which have a different main function – to add flavour for oral sex, or to alter sensation in some way, whether warming, tingling, delaying orgasm or boosting orgasm.

One very important note, before we dive into the detail, is that almost all water-based, silicone and anal lubes are safe to use with latex condoms. The only exception is a very small number of lubes that are oil-based. If in doubt, read the lube’s label or online description before you buy.

Here’s all the know-how you need to help you choose the right lube for you.

Water-based lube

This is the essential all-rounder that should be on every bedside table. It has a light, natural feel and is perfect for male or female masturbation, for vaginal sex, and for using safely with sex toys made in any material. If you want to push the boat out you can find water-based lube made with organic materials, but an everyday lube is still perfect for the job.

Water-based lubes won't stain your bedsheets or warp the surface of your faithful vibrator. The only downside with water-based lubes is that you may need to use quite a lot during prolonged sex sessions as it can dry out and easily be absorbed into the skin.

Silicone lube

Want something silkier and longer-lasting? Silicone lube is what you’re after. It’s got what some people find a more sensual, gliding feel than water-based lube and it’s even waterproof, making it great for sex play in the shower or bathroom. Some people also enjoy it for anal sex, in preference to thicker anal lubes. Although it’s a bit more expensive than water-based lube, you need less of it each time you apply it, and you won’t need to top it up as frequently either.

Silicone lube is fine for almost all sex toys. However, you mustn’t use it with silicone toys (which tend to be the more luxury brands) or with ‘real feel’ male masturbator toys, so check your toy packaging if you’re not sure what material it’s made from.

For a good solution to this silicone-on-silicone problem, try a ‘silk’ lube. These are technically a hybrid mix between water-based and silicone, but the silicone content is low enough that it's fine for use with silicone toys.

Anal lube

The consistency of anal lubes is much thicker than that of ordinary water-based or silicone lubes. This extra thickness helps protect the butthole’s sensitive skin, and some brands also offer a moisturising effect too. You can get a range of anal-lube thicknesses, from ones which are still quite liquid and come in pump-top bottles, right through to others which have a thicker jelly consistency and come in tubs, to scoop out with your fingers. It’s all down to personal choice and what you (and your partner) find comfortable.

Anal lube is safe for condoms and all sex toys. Make sure that you coat both the butthole and the toy or penis with lube, and keep reapplying as necessary, as the anus and rectum don’t produce any natural lubricant of their own and so are more prone to irritation and abrasions.

Flavoured lube

Love oral sex? Whether you’re enjoying it with or without a condom, flavoured lube can make it even more fun. There are lots of delicious flavours out there, everything from passion fruit to peppermint, and some brands don't add in any glycerin or parabens that could meddle with vaginal health. Flavoured lubricants are equally as suitable for penetrative sex, so a blowjob, cunnilingus or analingus doesn't have to be the main agenda when using these fun treats.

Sensation altering lubes

Whether you want to speed your orgasm up, slow it down, boost its strength or add sensations of warming or tingling, there’s a specialist lube out there to do the job. Again, most of these are condom-safe, and because they’re water-based they’re safe for all kinds of penetrative sex and play with toys. Not everyone enjoys the sensations, however, and ladyparts don’t always react to them in the way a penis does, so always try them out before slathering yourself in them during a sex session.


Helen Self is a blogger and sex toy expert who writes for Lovehoney Australia.


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