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What is Lube & What Type Should You Use?


what is lube? different lubes explained

Lube is something we can all benefit from having in our toy drawer. It is great for anal sex, solo sex, vaginal sex, foreplay, and even sensory play. With all the different ways someone can use lube, we want to make sure we pick the right one for the right activity.


When shopping for the right lube for yourself or you and your partner(s), knowing what you want it for is essential. It is most frequently purchased to reduce pain or friction during various sexual activities involving penetration to help have sex more comfortably.


Additionally, it has been shown to aid in the prevention of spreading and contracting STDs and STIs by decreasing the chances of condoms or other contraception like dental dams by reducing the friction that generally causes tearing. With uses that go far beyond aiding vaginal dryness and anal sex. Using lube during foreplay, sensory play, masturbation, and more increases the pleasure experience tremendously.


How Do You Know Which Lube Is Right For You?


There are four primary types of lubes and some natural alternatives. When shopping for the right one, it’s important to remember the various activities, materials, or toys you will be using. Some lubricants can damage toys, latex condoms or latex materials, cause irritation to the skin and possibly result in yeast infections.


Water based lubricants

Water-based lubricants are the most popular as they are the most universal. They are safe for penetrative sex (anal, vaginal, and oral), are least likely to irritate the skin, and are compatible with all materials used for toys, condoms, and latex clothing. Unlike other options, water-based does dry out quicker and may require reapplication.


Silicone based lube

These are most suitable for sensory play and skin-on-skin sexual activity but not for use with silicone toys or latex condoms. Silicone based lubricants can damage the material of the toy and condoms, resulting in a higher chance of breaking and toy deterioration.


Oil based lube

Like silicone, oil-based are suitable for penetrative, non-penetrative, and solo sex and sensory play. Oil-based lubricants are not safe to use with condoms and should be used with caution because of the increased risk of bacteria buildup resulting in UTIs or bacterial vaginosis.


Petroleum based lube

Petroleum-based lube is like a combination of silicone-based and oil-based. Petroleum lasts longer than water-based. It’s excellent for penetrative sex, manual sex, self-sex, oral, etc. However, it can increase the risk of bacterial infections and is incompatible with most toys and latex contraception.


Natural lubes

Oils like avocado, olive, or coconut oil can be at-home alternatives for lube if you’re in a pinch. Avocado oil is excellent for oral play, penetration, solo work, and sensory play due to being flavorless and long-lasting. Olive and Coconut oils are similar to avocado oil but have more prominent flavors that may affect the experience. Like oil-based lube, these oil substitutes are not recommended to be used with latex materials or contraception due to the possibility of damaging the material.


Some of the Modern Intimacy Staff’s favorite lubricants include:


Lube Don’ts


Lotions and soaps are usually not recommended due to various contaminants that can result in irritation or infection. Scented products are always a big no-no. Fragrances can cause skin irritations and, if used on/in the vagina or anus, can cause irritation, infections, and even chemical burns. Something like vaseline may seem like a good DIY lube substitution but has been shown to increase the risk of BV.


Spit may appear to be a stable substitute for lubricant, but it’s not. On top of spit already being challenging to produce in the quantity one may need for penetration, anal penetration, sensory play, etc., spit dries up relatively quickly and can be a means of spreading STDs or STIs


Flavored lubes should be avoided for vaginal intercourse (with a toy or otherwise), as the components in the flavoring can result in a yeast infection.


Once you’ve selected the lube for you, done the research, looked at the ingredients, and maybe even decided to buy different types for different purposes, we need to learn how to store our lube and clean up. Indoors and in a temperature-controlled environment is recommended, but always follow the specific product’s instructions. If there is a spill in the storage spot, it got on the floor or stained the sheets, or it’s time to wash off, there are slightly carrying protocols depending on the lube base.


Water-based lubes are easy breezy. Take a nice shower to get excess off the body, normal cycle for the sheets or towels or other in the washer, and a swipe with a damp towel to remove some that spilled on other places.


Silicone-based lubricant can be a bit trickier with being waterproof and easily staining fabrics. If silicone lubes get on the sheets or other materials, washing as soon as possible is most recommended. To wash off, perform your regular shower routine with maybe a little more time spent on the body wash portion.


Oil based lubricants and Petroleum jelly lubes will usually require the same clean-up process as silicone.


Picking the right lube for you and your partner(s) is important, but it should also be fun. Talking about which lube you want to buy can open the floor for conversations about what possible interests you may have, some erotic play you want to explore, and it can even remind you of all the things you have done but haven’t in a while.


Lube is much more than an aid for vaginal dryness or to make anal more comfortable. Lube plays with your senses, and lube brings the water slide of your dreams to your sex life in all your sexual activities.

Modern Intimacy is a group therapy practice, founded by renowned Psychologist and Sex Therapist, Dr. Kate Balestrieri. This inclusive blog is designed to provide a wealth of information and resources for mental health, relationships, and sexuality. Subscribe today to get the latest information from our expert contributors from all around the world.


Author Bio

Hunter English is an associate clinical extern at Modern Intimacy under the supervision of Dr. Kate Balestrieri. Hunter aims to help individuals and couples find their unique path to happy relationships, long-lasting and fulfilling sex lives, and liberation within one’s identity and desires. Hunter is completing her Master’s degree at the University of Miami and is working towards becoming a Certified Sex Therapist.



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