The lowdown on lube: What to look out for and when to use what

By Lilith Bealove

Before I started using sexual lubricant, I thought that people only used it when they couldn’t naturally get ‘wet.’ I mean, in most of the erotica and porn I'd seen, women are naturally dripping with vaginal fluids when they get turned on. I actually don’t remember why I first tried lube initially, but I am so glad that I did and I haven’t once looked back.

Lube makes sex wetter, makes the friction less irritating, and can enhance pleasure by bringing more attention to where you apply it. It can be used with a partner or solo and is a must have for any toy box. Before you buy just any lube, though, there are some things that you might want to know, first. There are some ingredients to be aware of, some facts to know, and some options to consider.

When purchasing lube, you should always check the ingredients to ensure that it doesn’t contain anything you are allergic to. You should also steer clear of the following ingredients:


Petroleum or petroleum-based ingredients are difficult to clean off and can coat the skin and trap bacteria causing infections. Also, it shouldn’t be used with condoms as it breaks down the material and can cause them to break.


Parabens are another ingredient to be wary of. They mimic estrogen and put women at a higher risk for breast and ovarian cancer. Parabens can also be detected in urine, breast milk, and blood, which means if you’re breastfeeding or donating blood, it can be passed from you to the baby or blood receiver.


Another common ingredient used in lubes, Phenoxyethanol can cause skin irritation. That’s actually the least of your worries with Phenoxyethanol. This ingredient is linked with causing suppressed immunities and can cause damage to the reproductive system.

Propylene glycol 

This is used by doctors to quickly get medicine and such into your bloodstream because it absorbs so easily. But this agent doesn’t discriminate against what it takes into your bloodstream with it, causing it to increase the chances of transferring STIs and STDs.


Finally, I’m sure you’ve heard to be wary of Glycerin. This is because it is sugar and can increase your chances of getting a yeast infection. 

Now that you know what to look out for, you should probably decide what types of lube you want to purchase. There are many different types, for this article's purpose, I’m going to stick to the main ones. The main types of lube that you are going to come across are water, silicone, hybrid, flavored, oil, and organic. I can imagine you sitting there reading this, thinking “that’s a lot of options.” I hear you. But they each have their pros and cons, and you should really consider these before deciding on one (especially if you're using a silicone sex toy!).

1. Water

Water-based lubes are the most common and popular choice. The main ingredient in this type is, you guessed it, water. This makes it easy to clean off, it doesn’t stain materials, it plays nicely with condoms, silicone sex toys and those with sensitive skin. The main cons for water-based is that it has to be reapplied often and it cannot be used in the shower or for water play.

2. Silicone

Silicone-based lubes would probably be the second most popular, and can be found relatively easy. I use silicone lube a lot for shower play because it doesn’t wash away in water and you have to use soap to get it all off. It's also the recommended lube for anal sex. While this is a great thing for people who like to play in the shower, it can stain sheets and clothes. Silicone lube doesn’t evaporate as quickly as water-based lube and therefore doesn’t have to be reapplied as often.

3. Hybrid 

Personally, this is my go-to type of lube. It isn’t as tacky as silicone lube but doesn’t evaporate as quickly as water-based lubricants. I’m talking about the silicone, water hybrid lube. This has all the best qualities of both lubricants. It doesn’t stain cloth as easy, it washes off fairly easy, it doesn’t have to be reapplied often, and it is easy on sensitive skin. My only complaint is that it can be rather thin like water-based lubes, and can't be used with silicone sex toys.

4. Oil

This option is great for people who find they are sensitive to the other types I have listed. It lasts a while like silicone lubes, but it can’t be used with condoms and it can increase your risk of infections. Oil-based lubricants don’t wash off easily, especially in the rectum, and can trap bacteria and STI/STDs, making you more at risk for infection.

5. Flavored

Flavored lubes can be great for blowjobs, if you can find one that actually tastes good. I have tried at least 5 different brands and none of them were tastebud-friendly. Usually, flavored lubes are thick and tacky, they have a resemblance of the flavor that they are supposed to taste like, and are usually full of sugars. If you happen to come across a flavored lube that tastes good, they can make for great foreplay (licking it off each other’s bodies) and make blowjobs taste better. They shouldn’t be used internally, though, as 90% of the time they have sugar in them, which can cause a yeast infection.

6. Organic

Organic lubes are a fantastic option for people who are conscious of their carbon footprint and are sensitive to synthetic materials. Organic lubes moisturize, but usually evaporate quickly and need to be reapplied often. Unfortunately, since organic lubes have a great moisturizing feature, they can be sold under the radar of the FDA as just ‘moisturizers’ and can have ingredients in them that should not be used in any orifices, so do be cautious.

You can use lube to enhance solo sessions, hand jobs, make sex with a condom feel better, and make barebacking feel a hell of a lot better. If you are inserting something into an orifice you should start by squeezing some lube into your hand and working it over the object that is going into an orifice. If you are using it with a condom, be sure that it is a type that can be used without risking breakage, and you can put a small dollop on the inside of the condom to help enhance the feeling for the wearer as well. If you are not using a condom, (which should only be done with trusted partners), I usually start with a handjob with a healthy dose of lube and allow my partner to play with me using some lube. When we are both good and slippery, we let the fun begin.

Whichever way you choose to use lube, it has the potential to truly enhance your sex life. Since you’ve taken the time to read up on why and how to use it, I suggest giving it a shot. Like I said before, I don’t remember why I tried it, but I’m glad I did, and I haven’t gone back since.


Stay in the loop, bbOur top stories delivered to your inbox weekly