Lube goes with sex the way cream goes with an Oreo: You just can’t have one without the other. As a certified sex educator, I can’t say enough good things about lube. Lube makes sex better. It really is that simple. It doesn’t matter how turned on you are (or aren’t), lube will still enhance your experience. Whether you’re with a partner or flying solo, always use lube.
This is especially true when using sex toys. Sex toys and lube are what the woo-woo among us would call “Twin Flames.” They fit together perfectly. In fact, they’re designed to go together. They are mates. Sex toys need lube to work their orgasmic magic to their fullest extent.
Let’s get one thing straight: There is nothing wrong with using lube. It’s kind of twisted that there is still a social taboo against using something that is literally designed to make sex better. Personal lubricants decrease friction from penises, hands, or sex toys. Anuses and penises do not self-lubricate the way a vagina does. You need lube to make anal, toy, and hand play comfortable and pleasurable. Friction does not make vulvas, penises, or anuses happy. That is how you wind up with sex injuries. Genital rug-burn? No one wants that.
Of course, there is so little good information on sexuality out there that it’s difficult to know where to begin on this lube journey. It can be hard to know which lube is right for you and what you should buy for your different sex toys. They’re not all compatible, and that is a drag. Do you want a plant-based option? What the heck does silicone-based mean? Why the F are some of these lubes flavored, like mango-strawberry or mint chocolate?
Don’t worry. We have you covered. Here is everything you need to know about which lube to buy for which sex toy.
First things first: Know your ingredients.
Know Your Ingredients
When it comes to lube, don’t cheap out. Your penis, anus, hand, and/or vulva deserve only high-quality ingredients.
This is especially important if you have a vagina. The vagina is one of the most absorbent areas of the body. The mucus-rich tissue is a part of an ecosystem that is checked and balanced by bacteria and yeast. If you feed the yeast lube with sugar in it, for instance, it will overgrow and cause infection. That is decidedly unsexy.
When picking a lube for internal play (think anal sex or vaginal sex), only go options that are flavorless, paraben-free, glycerin-free, and petrochemical free. Flavored lubes are only OK when using sex toys on a penis or during oral sex with a penis. Keep in mind that some flavored lubes can cause irritation to the penis so, when in doubt, skip it.
Think of buying lube that way you would your veggies: Go for organic, where possible. Don’t go to the local Walgreens and buy a gnarly product like KY Jelly. That’s just bacterial vaginosis and skin irritation waiting to happen.
A golden rule: If the list of ingredients has a bunch of crazy stuff that you’ve never heard of, it has no business going inside your body.
The 4 Main Types of Lube and Which Toys Work With Them
Water-Based Lube: The Jack of All Trades
Water-based lube is the one-size-fits-all of personal lubricant. It goes with every kind of sexual act, and you never really have to think about whether or not it’s going to damage your toys. All materials are compatible with water-based lube. When in doubt, always choose a water-based option. This is the safest bet.
The downside of a water-based lubricant is that it absorbs quite quickly. In some instances, it can become a bit tacky and sticky. This is problematic during anal play, as the anus doesn’t lubricate by itself. It’s not dangerous, but it can be annoying when you’re trying to use your favorite anal dildo and need to stop for a lube top-up.
Here are a few products I personally recommend that generally avoid these pitfalls: Sustain Natural, Unbound Jelly, and Pjur Lube.
Silicone lube is great for staying power. You barely ever have to reapply. It’s ideal for anal play, whether you’re using a penis or toy. Silicone lube has the power to turn sexual play into a waterslide. Who wouldn’t love that?
There is one big downside to silicone lube when it comes to sex toys. Silicone toys are not compatible with silicone lube. Silicone lubes will degrade the integrity of your silicone toys. Sex toys are kind of expensive. You don’t want to use lube that is going to damage them. Another problem? Silicone lube can be a bit messy and is known for staining sheets. If you’re not up for throwing your sheets in the wash after a hot play session, you may want to avoid this one.
This issue can be tricky when you’re trying to use a vibrator during sex (or solo play), an anal plug, or any other toy made of silicone. If you’re going to use silicone lube, be sure your toy is made of ABS hard plastic, glass, or stainless steel.
My favorite silicone lubes are Sliquid, System JO, überlube, and Astroglide.
Hybrid lube is a blend of silicone and water-based lube. You get all the benefits of water-based versatility and silicone-based slipperiness. My personal favorite aspect of a water-based lube is its easy clean-up. There’s no sheet-staining involved.
In general, hybrid lubes won’t damage silicone toys, as long as you wash them immediately after use. Honestly, rinsing your toys after sex should be a rule all the time. Before using a silicone toy with a hybrid lube, check the labels to be sure it won’t cause breakdown.
My recommendations for silicone-water hybrid lubes that won’t damage your precious toys: BabeLube Silk and Sliquid Naturals.
For those health nuts out there, a plant-based option is as organic as you can get. If you want to go all natural, a plant-based lube is your go-to. Oil-based lubes stay the F on there. Aloe vera, while not oil-based, used to be a favorite of sex-coaching legend Betty Dodson (RIP, Betty).
The major problem with oil-based plant options is that they are incompatible with latex condoms. It causes them to corrode and break. If you’re using condoms on your sex toys with different partners, you shouldn’t pick an oil-based lubricant. Remember, when in doubt, go for the water-based lube every time.
Some lubes I really love: Maude’s aloe-based lube (compatible with latex condoms!), CocoLube, Woo More Play, and Alu from Dame Products.
If you want to go hardcore natural, you can use 100% aloe vera, almond oil, or unrefined coconut oil from your local grocery store. Just be sure you keep your sex lubes in the bedroom to avoid any kitchen mishaps. Too far?