Which lube to choose?

lubeA reader asks:
It’s a little overwhelming when I go to the store and see all the choices of lube. Which one is the best to use?

Dear reader,

This is one of those really difficult questions to answer because there is so much that goes in to picking the right lube, and most of them are issues of personal preference.  The most important questions things to think about, however, when choosing a personal lubricant are the intended use and potential allergies. Most lubes come in one of three bases, water, oil, and silicone.  Choosing the base of your lube is an important first step before moving on to specific brands, flavors, scents, etc.

Water-based lubes are the most popular and most common for a number of reasons.  Because they are water based they tend to have low cleanup requirements as they are water soluble and will dissolve or be absorbed in to the skin if left alone.  This tends to be their major drawback as well though, as they tend to dry up quicker than other lubes as well.  Water-based lubes also tend to have the lowest risk of negative interference with condoms and other sexual devices.  Because these lubes have a water base they also tend to be the safest for most activities and also come in the greatest variety. These lubes are the easiest to find in your local drug store or big box retailer from the big names like K-Y and Astroglide, but nearly every company that makes lube makes a water-based formula so your local sex shop will have a much bigger collection.

Water-based lubes come in a variety of scents and flavors for oral play as well, but know that the addition of fragrances and flavors to lube makes them generally unsafe for vaginal and anal play, so if you intend to enjoy these types of lubes make sure to keep them to the safe areas of the body. As a side note, a lot of water-based lubricants also have sugars in them, which can cause yeast infections in women that are already prone to them, so be careful when playing around.

Oil-based lubes tend to degenerate latex, making them far less useful for safe-sex practices.  Though they are fine for solo-play they are also incredibly difficult to clean up because they aren’t water soluble, and tend to resist wash-off.  This definitely means that if you are looking at an oil-based lube you want to use it for external purposes only to prevent a really sticky situation internally.  If you’re looking for oil-based lubes they’ll be a little harder to find and will probably require a visit to a specialty store.  Some of the big names to look for are Wet – oil based and Boy Butter.

Finally, there are silicone-based lubes.  These lubes are harder to wash off than water-based lubes but also tend to last a whole lot longer.  They are gaining a lot of popularity because they don’t interfere with normal condom use and have a much longer performance life.  However, be careful with silicone-based lubes when using toys.  Use of a silicone-based lube on a silicone toy is like rubbing glass together and risks totally ruining your favorite companion, and as such many people out there suggest never using the two together.  You may get lucky and not cause any damage, but that is a risk probably not worth taking.  Another benefit to silicone lubes is that because they resist wash-off they are a great choice for waterproof fun.  Silicone-based lubes are growing in popularity and availability, so now they’re even easier to find.  Look on the shelves for ID Millennium, Sliquid, or K-Y Intrigue, or just check to see if the lube is silicone-based.

In the end, the experience of finding a great lube could be just as exciting as actually finding one.  Once you’ve decided what you are looking for in a lube, go crazy and start trying out the ones that interest you, and eventually you’ll find the one for you.  Don’t be overwhelmed by the selection, that really just means there are more options for you to find the one that is going to fit your lifestyle.  Start by buying small bottles to try out until you find the one you really like.  While you can find a decent selection of lube at your local grocery store or pharmacy you’ll find a much better selection at your local sex shop.  They also tend to have a lot more options in sample sizes that will allow you to explore your options.

Happy Hunting!


  1. freewomyn says:

    Great post, Jeff. I never realized how much info there is to know about lubes. The advice about allergies is really important. I have found that most sex shop employees are very knowledgeable about which lubes are hypo-allergenic, so don’t be afraid to ask.

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