Looking to find the right lube for your toys, but not sure where to start? Searching online, or even walking down the aisle of your local drug store will bring you face-to-face with what seems like a million varieties of lube. Even within the same brand you will see different formulas with different base ingredients. But what is it that makes them all different? Each one has properties that make them good for some uses, but counterproductive to others.
Picking which one to use can seem daunting, but it is not as complicated as it seems! I’m going to lay out the three main varieties of lube and what they’re good for, so when you make your next purchase you can feel confident about getting the perfect lube for your intended use.
The Three Contenders
Water Based Lube
Water based lubes are the most common and sought after lubes. They have a high level of versatility, being safe with both condoms and toys. On top of that, it’s the easiest of the three to clean up (and wash out of clothing or sheets). Many condoms that come pre-lubed use water based as it will not compromise their integrity the way that other lubes might.
The downside, however, is that water-based lubes get absorbed much more quickly than other types of lubricant. This leaves you having to go back to the lube bottle in the middle of a sexual adventure, and can be a major buzzkill. The absorption can also leave your fingers or privates feeling sticky, but is very easily washed off.
Silicone Based Lube
So if water based lubes are so popular, why have silicon based lube? Well, it turns out that silicon based lube has some special properties, first and foremost of these being that they are the most waterproof lubes on the market today. If you’re wanting to have fun in the shower or the pool, this is your winner right here. These lubes also have a unique, silky feel and is also hypoallergenic, making it a good choice for those with sensitive skin or allergies.
On top of that, silicone based lubes are not absorbed by your skin and mucus membranes the way that water based lubes are. This means that your silicone based lube isn’t going to be pulling a vanishing act like the water based varieties, and you’ll be getting a lot more mileage out of that bottle.
Of course, there is a downside to this otherwise miraculous creation. It turns out that different grades of silicone break each other down, so if you try using silicone based lube with your silicone sex toys you’re not gonna have a good time. This lube will break down the silicone on your toys and ruin them over time, so if using this variety of lube it’s important that you be certain that the toy you plan to use it on is silicone-free.
Oil Based Lubes
Oil based lube is extremely long-lasting, and gives your skin an amazing, silky feel. When you’re aiming to give a sexy massage, this is the lube that you’re gonna be going for. However, when it comes to using it sexually, it gets a bit more complicated.
Much in the same way that silicone based lubes will ruin your silicone toys, oil and petroleum based lubes will ruin any toys you have made from rubber. They are also not safe for sex with latex condoms, as they will make the latex weak and porous, eventually making it much more likely to rip. So, if you’re planning to go all the way with an oil based lube, it better be with someone you don’t need to use a condom with.
Oil based lubes are also much harder to clean up, leaving a residue on toys and skin (and cloth!) that will require much more time and effort than cleaning away silicone or water based lubes.
What Lube Should I Use?
Now that you have an understanding of the upsides and downsides to each lube variety, you can think about what you wanted to use that lube for and think about which one suits you best. If you’re aiming to use it with a sex toy, you can also refer to our SEX TOY MATERIALS GUIDE to find out a bit more about which materials are compatible with which lubes.
Now, before I sign off I have one more bone to pick.
When researching how to get started on prostate play, you will often be exposed to advertising for “anal lubricants.” These are lubes (of all bases) that are formulated to be thicker and more long lasting than normal lubes. They often also contain an added ingredient called Benzocaine, which provides a numbing sensation.
I will wholeheartedly say that I do NOT endorse using lube that has Benzocaine, especially for those of you who are just getting started in anal play. If done properly, with enough time and patience, engaging in anal play should NOT be painful. If anything, pain is your body telling you that you are doing something wrong, and by ignoring those signals you risk injuring yourself. Rather than trying to numb yourself and just forge ahead, the better way is learning to listen to the signals that your body is giving you. Anal and prostate pleasure is as much about your level of relaxation and head space as it is about what’s going inside of you, and it’s important to keep that in mind when going into the experience.
Anyway, that’s the end of my rant. I hope this guide was helpful to those of you just starting out!