The number one piece of sex advice I give to my readers is “use lube”. Lube makes any kind of sex smoother, wetter and better. There are so many kinds of lubricant on the market which makes it awfully tricky to choose the one that’s best for you.
There are three main types of lubricant: water-based, silicone and oil-based. Each type has it’s pros and cons and is suited to a particular type of play. But how do you select the right lube for you? Here are a few important considerations:
What part of the body are you using it on?
If the lube is going to be used on a penis, you can pretty much take your pick between oil-based, water-based and silicone.
If you’re going to be playing with a vulva or vagina, your options are more limited. The vagina has a very delicate pH, and is prone to yeast infections and irritation if this balance is disturbed. For this reason, it’s vital that you pay close attention to the ingredients in lube that’s going anywhere near a vagina. Water based lubricants are best, because they are the closest to your body’s natural lubrication. Look for lube that has as few ingredients as possible, and avoid products that contain glycerine as this can cause vaginal irritation. My personal favourite is Yes WB which is organic and the closest lube I’ve found to natural vaginal lubrication.
One of the worst things that you can put in a vagina is sugar. Sugar acts as food for the yeast that naturally lives in the vagina, causing it to grow out of control and sparking painful yeast infections. For this reason, flavoured lubes are a terrible idea for vaginal use.
Oil based and silicone lubricants are both safe to use vaginally. However, they are more difficult to clean up and if traces are left to linger in the body, they can lead to irritation. These types of lubricants are best used on external parts of the vulva and clitoris where they can be wiped away.
All three types of lubricants are safe for anal play.
What type of play are you engaging in?
The type of play you’re going to be doing will have a huge impact on the kind of lube you choose.
Vaginal sex: If you’re putting anything into a vagina, I’d suggest to err on the side of caution and choose a water based lubricant. Some people prefer silicone because it stays slippery for a lot longer and you don’t have to reapply it as frequently. However, if you apply a few drops of water to the lube, it will reactivate and become slippery again. So for pussy play, opt for water based and have a little spritz bottle of water nearby if needed.
Anal sex: Lubricant is non-negotiable for anal play. You want to use a good quality lubricant and plenty of it. For back-door fun, it’s important that you choose a lube that is long-lasting and thick. Oil based lubes tend to have a thicker consistency and stay slippery for a long time. Silicone lube also has great longevity which makes it great for anal play. There are some thicker water-based lubes that are designed to be used anally, but they can dry out more quickly.
Oral sex: if you’re performing oral sex on a penis and you want a bit more slide, a flavoured, water based lube is a great option.
Fisting: If you’re playing with larger toys or working your way up to fisting, you want something that is very slick and long-lasting. Oil-based lubricants are great for this purpose, as are powdered lubricants which you can add to water to create a thicker lubricant in large quantities.
Are you using safer sex barriers?
If you’re using safer sex barriers such as condoms, dental dams or gloves you will need to be extra mindful of the type of lubricant you choose. Oil-based lubricants are not compatible with latex and may cause latex to tear or break. To make sure that your sex is as safe as possible, avoid oil based lube if you are using safer sex barriers. Prioritize your safety and opt for a water-based or silicone lubricant instead.
Are you using sex toys?
There is some debate about whether silicone lubricants are compatible with silicone toys. Sometimes when you apply a silicone lube to a silicone toy, it can make the surface of the toy feel tacky, and begin to melt the toy. Recent findings have found that if you use a very good quality silicone lubricant with a very good quality silicone toy, this reaction is less likely to happen. To avoid ruining your toys, I’d suggest doing a patch-test of your lubricant on the base of your toy. Rub a little of the lube onto your toy and if it feels tacky or gummy, the two are not compatible. You could avoid any drama by sticking with a water based lubricant.
Oil based lubes are generally ok to use with toys but exercise caution. Wash your toy very thoroughly after use to remove any traces of oil that might be harbouring bacteria. Dispose of your toy if it becomes discoloured or starts to smell.
Where will you be having sex?
If you plan on having sex in the shower, tub or swimming pool, avoid water-based lubricant which will be washed away quickly. Silicone and oil are best for water-play. If you’re using silicone lube, be exceptionally careful not to get it on the floor of your shower or the tub, because it will make the area very slippery and dangerous. Keep a towel close at hand to wipe up any spills.
Water-based lubes are a good all-around lubricant, because they can be used on any body part, are condom-safe and work well with sex toys. They might not last as long, but they can be re-activated with a little water. Water-based lubricants are no good for bath or shower sex.
Oil based lubes are great for anal or fisting play. They are not compatible with latex sex shields and may cause irritation when used vaginally.
Silicone based lubes are very long lasting and can be used on any body part. Be cautious when using silicone lube with silicone toys and always do a spot test to make sure the lube doesn’t damage your toys. Silicone lubes are waterproof and excellent for underwater play.