How to Choose the Right Lube for Incredible Sex

The options can be overwhelming, but there’s something out there for everyone

by Carrie Weisman

According to the mechanics, machines should be kept properly lubricated when in use in order to prevent friction and wear. Now forgive the comparison, but the same could be said of us. Specifically, when we’re having sex. Of course, part of the sexual response cycle involves the body creating its own, natural lubrication. But sometimes, it’s not enough. In fact, that’s often the case.

Vaginal arousal fluid can be affected by a number of different factors, including but not limited to stress, pregnancy, medication, dehydration, menstruation, chemical products and – wait for it – insufficient foreplay. This is why lubricant has become such an important item in your bedroom arsenal.

It shows. Today, the sexual lubrication industry is worth around $1.4 billion and the number of products available on shelves is truly impressive. And sometimes, a little overwhelming. Should you choose oil or water-based? That’s why we decided to reach out to Kait Scalisi, a pleasure-based sex educator and relationship counselor. Below, she walks us through what’s out there and how certain products can cater to our every individual need.

Different Lubricant Ingredients Cater to Different Kinds Of Sex

As mentioned, there are a lot of different types of lubes out there. But they tend to fall into three main categories. Here’s the low-down:

  • Oil based lubes. These tend to have a thicker consistency but are not safe to use with condoms. That’s because they contain a property that makes latex more porous and likely to tear. They are, however, extremely moisturizing and can be a great addition to sensual massage.
  • Water-based lubes. “They feel wet and more closely mimic natural lubrication, which is why some can be a bit viscous or a little sticky,” says Scalisi. Pros include the fact that they’re easy to clean off and don’t typically stain the sheets. Plus, they’re compatible with all sex toys, which is good for those who like to accessorize during sex. However, they don’t last very long, so reapplying is a must.
  • Silicone lubes. They’re typically pretty slick, and last longer than other options out there. They can also withstand water, which is good for those who get it on at the beach, or in the pool. “For any skin-to-skin contact, go with silicone lube,” suggests Scalisi. “It stays slippery until the friction stops and often is very moisturizing to the skin as well.”

People With Allergies Might Want To Avoid The Gimmicky Stuff

It’s fun to mix things up in the bedroom, and certain products seem to cater to that urge. Flavored lubes can add some zest to your oral sex experience. Warming lubes might add a little bit more tingle to your jingle. And other kinds of stimulants are said to enhance sensation and maximize pleasure. Unfortunately, it takes certain ingredients to deliver what these products promise; certain ingredients that sensitive bodies might want to avoid. “If your partner is prone to yeast infections, also avoid lubes made with glycerin and other sugar alcohols,” says Scalisi.

No, Lubes Aren’t Just “For Women”

Individualizing your experience isn’t exactly a great approach when it comes to partnered sex. What’s good “for her” is going to be good for you both, so there’s that to keep in mind. Besides, lube can help heighten sensation, and that’s something both people can benefit from. Of course, there are also plenty of penis-centric stunts you can pull with lube. If you’re using condoms, Scalisi suggests putting a drop of lube in the tip to enhance. It can help sex feel better and might even help prevent the condom from breaking. And that’s not all. According to Scalisi, lube can take handjobs and blowjobs to “a whole new level.”

Lubes Aren’t Typically Good For Conception

If you’re trying to get pregnant, it’s important to do some research before picking up a lube. “Most lubes are not good for fertility because of how they alter the vagina’s pH level,” explains Scalisi. Plus, a lot of lubes contain ingredients like glycerin and parabens, which can have a damaging effect on sperm. That said, there are some lubes out there that do cater to those trying to conceive. Pro tip: if you’re aiming for a baby, think about sticking to the “all-natural” stuff.

What’s The Right Amount to Use?

Different people will hold to different preferences, but the general consensus among the sex educator community seems to be that the more lube you use, the better off you’ll be. “Lube decreases friction,” Scalisi explains. “This, in turn, has two big benefits. It enhances sensation and reduces the risk of irritation and small tears.” Basically, your parts will find one another; you may as well make that introduction as seamless as possible. “Lube keeps you safe and heightens every stroke, thrust, and lick,” Scalisi adds.

Different Lubes Cater To Different Kinds of Sex

While different lubes can cater to vaginal sex, you might want to think about sticking to a certain kind when knocking on a different door. Unlike the vagina, the anus produces no natural lubrication of its own, so using a store-bought lube is a must. In this case, the thicker, the better, which means a silicone lube would be your best bet. Plus, it lasts longer than other kinds of lubes, so there will be minimal discomfort during the sexual experience. “Silicone is great for skin-to-skin contact,” says Scalisi. “It stays slippery until the friction stops and often is very moisturizing to the skin as well.” Überlube is one of the slickest options of the market. It’s color and scent free and leaves no sticky residue behind.