Sex Ed Friday: Everything You’ve Ever Wanted To Know About Lube

Time to get slippery.

Photo by Unsplash

This Friday we’re getting slick and slippery — that’s right, it’s time to talk about lube. Personal lubricant has been used as an additive to sex since the beginning of time. Ancient Greek society used olive oil alongside their leather dildos as early as 350 BC. And people say that gays haven’t always been around. Who other than queer ladies would be rocking a leather dildo with olive oil lube?

In the 1600’s, Chinese people invented the first flavored lube by mashing up some yams, called tororo-jiru, and using it for both sex and masturbation. The still popular today silicone based lube was created in 1899 by an English chemist named Frederic Kipping. Since then, lube has been used to reduce friction and add pleasure to our sex lives on a regular basis.

But wait, there’s a caveat. The lens in which our culture views all things related to sex is tainted. Especially when it comes to women. Even more so when it comes to queer and trans folx. Of course it can’t be as simple as lube being a product that reduces friction and can be used shamelessly by whomever needs or wants it. That’s where I come in — to let you know that there is no shame in wanting or needed to use lube.

People with vulvas have long been told that if they can’t naturally get “wet” when aroused, something is wrong with them.  The reality is that our bodies are complex organisms and the chemistry of it all just doesn’t work that way sometimes. Instead of falling down a deep shame spiral, why not just whip out some lube? We literally have a solution for this problem, and yet so many people don’t use it because of deep sexual and body shame. These are the things that keep me up at night as a sex educator.

There’s this wild thing called arousal nonconcordance — basically, it means that our brain and our sexual organs sometimes don’t communicate in a way that makes sense. For example, you might be making out with your girlfriend but you aren’t as wet as you usually get, even though you feel turned on. There are so many reasons this happens to our bodies, from stress to trauma to hormonal imbalances. Depending on the study you look at, around 40% of women under 60 report sexual dysfunction and up to 60% of women will experience pelvic pain during sex. It’s hard to know if that’s because of lack of lubrication, but lube can help with pain or dryness during sex.

That’s where the magic of lube enters the scenario. I never want you to feel shame around using lube for sex or masturbation. Lube makes playing with toys more pleasurable, it allows fisting to happen easier and it can simply amplify your sexual pleasure — who doesn’t want that?

But now that you know it’s a-okay to use lube whenever for whatever — what kind works best for your body? What sexual acts do you want to use it for? Ideally, you want a lube without parabens, glycols, microbicides, and preservatives — and one that will vibe with your bodies pH levels. There’s a plethora of options out there and it can feel really overwhelming TBH. This comprehensive guide will help navigate the slippery world of lube.

Silicone Lube

+ Like I mentioned before, Silicone based lube was the first mass-produced option. It’s been around for so long because it’s hypoallergenic and can’t be absorbed into the skin. The main perk of this substance is that it has long-lasting powers. When you want to have a 24 hour f*cking session with your new boo, this is the lube for you. It even stays strong in water — if you want to shower together. The slickness of this lube will last you but also easily washes away with some gentle and scent free soap.

The downside to silicone lube is that is can’t be used with silicone toys (i.e. what a lot of dildos are made from). It will cause the material of the toys to deteriorate. You can either throw a condom on your toy and then lube on top of that — or you can opt for another lube listed below. Silicone lube is also tough to wash out of fabric, so be sure to throw down a towel before you squeeze out the bottle on your pussy.

Recommended: Silver Sliquid Naturals, $14

Water Based Lube

+ Water based lubes are the most popular and for good reason. They have a thick feel to them that also feels nourishing to your skin. Water based lubes are also safe to use with all toys and barriers — causing no breakdown of materials. I also find that they feel a little more natural to my body. Also, if you need to re-up your lube because it has worn away, you just add water or saliva and it reinvigorates the lube all over again. 

Since it’s water based, it will dry out, but as I mentioned above, there are easy ways to re-up it without using the whole bottle up quickly. Also, because it’s water soluble — it won’t work well in the shower or baths. Be wary of any water based lubes with glycerin as that can cause yeast infections.

Recommended: Sylk Water Based Lube, made from New Zealand kiwifruit vine extract; $22.95.

Hybrid Lubes

+ These lube options prove that you really can have it all! They are primarily water based with a dash of silicone in them — usually called silk. This means that they last longer than water based lubes and don’t f*ck up your silicone toys. They combine the thickness of water lube and slippery feel of silicone. You really can’t go wrong.

There really are no downsides to these lubes. You just can’t expect them too be 100% like water based feel or silicone based feel. Instead, they provide a little bit of both.

Recommended: Sliquid Silk Organics, made from Aloe Vera and silicone; $9

Oil Based Lubes

+ These are fab for massages, hand jobs, or any kind of “outercourse” foreplay. They are slippery and feel yummy on skin. Plus, they’re incredibly accessible. We probably all have Olive Oil in the kitchen, right?!

There are some major downsides to oil based lubes. I don’t recommend using them for intercourse of any kind as it’s really difficult to get off of or out of you. It sticks around for a while, building up bacteria and sometimes leaving you with an infection. Oil also breaks down latex, meaning it’s not safe to use with most condoms or dental dams.

Recommended: YES OB Lube, plant based lube that is body safe; $22.

Household Products

+ Talk about accessibility! Yes, there are plenty of household products that can be used as lube in a pinch. If you don’t have the funds or are unable to purchase lube for any reason — these products will ensure that you can still have wet and pleasurable sex, regardless.

You want to be very careful about which products you use. There are many that are NOT body safe at all — which people have been known to use on and in their bodies. You also want to make sure that the products you’re using haven’t been sitting around your kitchen for months. Those products have probably come into contact with unwashed hands, food bacteria or other things that don’t belong on your genitals.

Recommended: Aloe Vera that you have lying around for sunburn, egg whites, plain yogurt (no sugar or flavors added), sensitive skin lotion (i.e. Cetaphil), Vitamin E. All of these products that can be found lying around your house are safe to use during sex and masturbation, with toys and latex barriers.

DO NOT EVER USE: Anything with sugar (syrups, honey, etc.), butter, lard (i.e. Crisco), cooking oils (read more about why I don’t recommend using Coconut Oil for sex or masturbation), fish oil, any scented or artificially flavored products, petroleum jelly.

Now it’s time to take all this knowledge to go get wet and wild, babes.