Your body usually makes a natural lube when things get steamy. But sometimes hormonal changes or certain meds make things dry up. Enter, literally, vaginal lubricants.
Without enough lubrication, getting down can be pretty painful. These lubes reduce uncomfy friction during penetration (or masturbation!), keep the vag skin soft, and can increase your sexual pleasure. We’re listening 👀.
So, which lubricant will be your go-to? That depends. Here’s how to choose the best lube for a smooth ride to Pleasure Town.
While anyone can use lube, those who deal with dryness in particular can reap some *ahem* pleasurable benefits.
Vaginal dryness is more likely to happen if you:
- take certain meds (like antihistamines and antidepressants)
- struggle to down enough H2O
- use hormonal birth control
- smoke cigs
- are breastfeeding
- are in menopause or perimenopause
- have an autoimmune disorder (like Sjogren’s syndrome)
- are undergoing chemo
Lubes aren’t just for smoother sex though — they can also make it spicier. Some varieties boost sex function and arousal with stimulating ingredients.
If you can dream it, there’s probably a lube for it. Whether you’re looking to stock your nightstand with variety or simply find your tried-and-true lubricant, we got you.
If you grab an inexpensive lube from the pharmacy, it’s most likely water-based: the most popular variety on the market.
Water-based lubes come with or without glycerin (a natural moisturizer derived from oil or animal fat). Flavored or warming water-based lubes often contain glycerin, which is a little sweet to the taste.
- They’re totally safe to use with condoms and other forms of birth control.
- Glycerin-free is nonirritating compared to other varieties.
- Unlike oilier types, they won’t stain your sheets.
- They have a longer shelf life.
- The sugar content in glycerin water-based lubes can contribute to yeast infections.
- Glycerin can make the lube dry out more quickly.
- Lubes without glycerin can taste bitter. So not so great during oral.
- They can get sticky and tacky.
- Some varieties can cause deterioration of the skin cells in the vulva.
Silicone-based lubes are usually tasteless, odorless, smooth, and slippery. They’re usually a bit more expensive than water-based ones and are a bit of a quality upgrade from the cheaper varieties.
- Silicone lubes last longer than any other kind.
- They’re safe for use with latex condoms.
- They can hold up under water (hello, shower sex.).
- Sensitive skin? Silicone lubes are hypoallergenic.
- While silicone lubes last longer, residue is harder to wash off and might require a lot of (gentle) scrubbing.
- They’re not recommended for use with silicone sex toys. Even after cleansing, silicone lube can cling to the toy, making them gummy and yucky over time.
Natural oil-based lubricant
Natural oil-based lubes like coconut, avocado, vegetable, and olive oils can be used for basically any sexcapade.
- Natural oil-based lubes tend to be safe to use, relatively inexpensive, and easy to find. (You just might have to snag them from the condiment aisle instead of the pharmacy!)
- They’re especially legit for erotic massages and sex play. They’re also safe for the vagina, and safe to eat.
- Natural oil-based lubes can do a number on your sheets if you don’t protect them.
- Unfortunately, they can also destroy latex condoms. (Mixing condoms and oil is a no-go.)
- These are also a no-go for those with a silicone allergy.
Synthetic oil-based lubricant
Synthetic lubes, like that trusty bottle of Vaseline or mineral oil, are best for getting off externally, but not much else.
- Synthetic oil-based lubes are typically cheap and easy to find.
- It’s really only good for external masturbation.
- Synthetic lube usually isn’t edible! Please don’t use it for oral.
- Like natural oils, synthetic ones can destroy your sheets and latex condoms.
- Synthetic lubes can be irritating and harder to clean out, this can cause an infection.
- You should prob just leave the synthetics for external pleasure.
Other natural lubricant
You don’t have to visit the condiment aisle to find all natural lubes. A number of companies also make vaginal lubricants from organic, vegan, or eco-friendly botanicals or ingredients.
- Many natural lubes are free of parabens — a common preservative used in other lubes, cosmetics, and personal care products with known health risks.
- They also tend to use organic ingredients, which is a plus for both the environment and your vagina.
- Since these products are au naturel, they’re not chock-full of shelf-life-extending preservatives. For that reason, they’ll typically have a shorter shelf life.
- Depending on the brand, they can also be pretty pricey.
The right lube for you depends on you. Some will just vibe better with your needs and preferences. If you’re not sure how to begin to pick, consider these questions:
- Struggling with dryness? Warming lubes with glycerin might actually make matters worse, since they dry up quickly and get sticky. A long-lasting silicone lube is prob the thing for you.
- Prone to yeast infections? Those prone to yeast infections should keep glycerin (in water-based lubes) away from their vag at all costs. Glycerin can kill good bacteria and cause an infection.
- Trying to conceive? While some studies have found that these lubes can impair sperm from swimming around as freely as usual, research has not found enough significant effect of that happening during P-in-V intercourse. Though, if you’re looking to get pregs, look for a brand that says “sperm friendly” or “fertility friendly.”
- Using a condom? If you’re using a condom, never use an oil-based lube. It will break it, so don’t 👏 do it. 👏
- Using a sex toy? Whether you’re whipping out the rabbit or the strap-on, stick with a water-based lube if you’re going to use a toy. A silicone-based lube will break down and ruin your toy over time.
- Having shower sex? A water-based lube will wash right off once you hop in the shower. For that reason, you’ll want to use a silicone-variety if you plan to rub-a-dub in the tub.
Vaginal moisturizers and estrogen creams can often be found next to the lubes, but they won’t necessarily do you any favors in the sack. When applied beforehand, these moisturizers and creams can help combat itching and irritation during sex, but that’s about it.
Since they absorb into the skin, they won’t exactly help things get slipping and sliding. You’ll need lube for that.
When it comes to lube: you do you. There’s really no right or wrong way. But if you’re not sure where to start, here are a few tips:
- Use a towel. Lots of lubes can stain your sheets. So if you want to protect your precious bedding from the KY wrath, def put down a towel or two before getting busy.
- Warm it up. Brrr — most people don’t love ice-cold jelly in their most tender spot. Before you apply it, rub it together in your hands to warm it up. Your partner (or your hooh-ha) will thank you.
- Foreplay or bust. Not feeling so sexy? Lube can make a lackluster night a little sultry. Get that drip, drip, drip going during foreplay to get in the mood.
- Wait! Lemme lube, first. It’s no good to wait until your mid-penetration to break out the lube. Whether you’re riding solo or with a partner, always lube before you move and groove.
- Don’t hold back. Both your vulva and your vag will love a little lubricative TLC. Lather up both parts thoroughly before you slide onto that D, those fingers, or that sex toy — whatever gets you going.
- Reapply as needed. Lube is kind of like Pringles — once you pop, the fun don’t stop. As you roll around in the sheets, reassess your wetness levels and add more as needed to keep things slippery and sexy.
Most lubricants are safe to use and won’t cause any serious side effects. Some, especially formulas with glycerin, may cause irritation or provoke allergic reactions and infections in some people.
See your doc asap if any of the following occurs after use:
- difficulty breathing
- swelling (especially the face, tongue, or throat)
If you start to getting yeast infections pretty regularly, stop using the lube and chat with your doctor. Switching to a different formula might help.
Other ways to get wet
Lube isn’t the only solution to downstairs dryness probs. Other options include:
- Hormone therapy. Sometimes, a dry vagina happens due to low estrogen levels. You may want to chat with your doc to see if therapy could be an option for you.
- Drink more water. Vagina dryness may occur due to dehydration. As a result, upping your H2O intake may actually help you get wetter.
- Avoid perfumed products. Powders, soaps and deodorants with fragrance can dry out your vagina and the surrounding area. Stop using them to see if hydration increases.
- Switch up your contraception. If you’re on the pill, switching to a different type or trying a new contraceptive method may help ease dryness.
- Kick your cig or alcohol habit. Consuming too much alcohol or smoking tobacco can dry out all your organs — vagina included. See if curbing your intake makes things a little wetter.