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Let's Talk About Lubricants

The Ins and Outs of Lubrication

Slick, slippery, silky. Whether you're using it for masturbation or with a partner; whether you need it because you're not producing enough natural lubrication on your own, or because you simply prefer a little extra sleekness; whether you're using it for anal or vaginal... reducing friction, easing discomfort, and adding excitement, lubrication has the uncanny ability to make sex better.

What's even more uncanny is that so few individuals and couples are taking advantage of this miracle elixir. With so many options on the market, it can be hard to figure out where to start. Which one lasts the longest? What kinds of ingredients am I putting into my body? Which one will my partner like? These are the most common questions I hear, but too frequently, there are also misconceptions about which lubes are compatible with certain materials or even our bodies.

If you practice safe sex with a condom, your primary concern when it comes to lubrication is probably whether it will damage your love glove. At least, it should be. Here's the low-down: unless you buy non-lubricated, every condom has a small amount of silicone lubricant that helps it unroll and slip onto your penis/dildo/penetration device of choice. Thus, silicone lube is perfectly safe with latex and non-latex (polyurethane or polyisoprene) condoms. Water-based lubricants, similarly, will do no damage.

However, try this fun experiment: unwrap and unroll a latex condom, blow it up into a balloon, and tie it off. Take an oil-based lubricant, maybe one that claims to double as a massage oil or even olive or coconut oil, and rub it all over your condom balloon. It won't take long for that sucker to sprout a hole or even pop! Oil-based lubes ARE NOT safe with latex. They will eat holes into the condom and completely invalidate the point of practicing safe sex.

The temptation to use oil for lubrication isn't unfounded. It's smooth and greasy, and it transitions well from a full-body massage to a happy-ending massage. But as a general rule, it's not usually safe for internal use, even without a condom. Within every vagina and anus is a mysterious phenomenon: self-cleaning bacteria. Just like a little kitten, your most adorable orifices maintain themselves. Coating them in artificial (or even most natural) oils will likely clog your mucous membranes, which could inevitably lead to infection. This is more so the case with vaginal penetration, but those who are prone to infection should keep it in mind during anal penetration as well. For this reason, the only guarantee for safe oil-genitals contact is the penis for masturbation, handjobs, and oral sex.

Which leads to the next topic. Pussy is supposed to taste like pussy. Dick is supposed to taste like dick. Ass is supposed to taste like ass. But that doesn't mean that you're always in the mood for such rich cuisine. Flavored lubricants can make a picky eater more enthusiastic. Hell, who isn't going to be slurping it up when it tastes like candy? A scrumptious flavored lube can turn good head, into great head. It can turn five minutes of "meh" into an hour of knee-shaking, sheet-grasping, hair-clutching ecstasy.

Flavored lubes have their own safety guide, though. If you only use it for oral YOU CANNOT SKIP THIS SECTION! Flavored lubes often contain sugar, saccharin, or aspartame as their sweetening agents... all of which can completely screw up the healthy bacteria balance within a vagina or anus and cause the dreaded yeast infection. Those particular flavored lubes are, like oil, only safe for use when performing oral or manual sex on a penis (or dildo/penetration device of choice). And there's one additional caveat: it's so easy, so very tempting, to let that penis fall out of your mouth and, conveniently, right into your vagina or butthole. Don't do it. Back away from the cock. Take a moment to wash that shaft off. Have a sexy shower together or play with yourself while your partner rinses his dick off.

Luckily, there are plenty of delicious, mouth-watering flavored lubricants that are created without the use of harmful sweeteners. Stevia and xylitol are two common ingredients that won't screw with your bacterial balance and will have you lickin' your lips as you head to the buffet downtown. These are perfectly safe for cunnilingus and analingus so, remember the power-hour we were just talking about? Careful with the hair and don't forget to return the favor!

Another ingredient that people often get confused about, or worse in some cases, aren't even aware of, is glycerin; a favorite ingredient in water-based lubricants. Glycerin creates a longer-lasting slickness that actually reduces friction. It's also very common in warming and cooling formulas, which can be fun to play with either on your own or with a partner.

While glycerin isn't a dangerous or "bad" ingredient, those with sensitivities might benefit from looking at glycerin-free products. I can't count the number of times I've heard people claim that they can't use lube because it gives them bacterial vaginosis or yeast infections. Those poor souls were missing out on the incredible and varied benefits of lube, all because they didn't realize they were just a little delicate around glycerin. Fortunately, many natural formulas forgo the use of glycerin, substituting with other natural ingredients to create a smooth, long-lasting water-based formula.

Alternately, silicone lube is a simple hypoallergenic formula that is usually comprised of three ingredients. While it's impossible to guarantee that all bodies will react the same way, silicone is almost always a safe go-to for those who are susceptible to infection. Furthermore, silicone has the same slickness as oil and lasts longer than water-based lubes. In fact, you may find that you don't have to reapply at all when using silicone lubricants. While silicone lube tends to cost a little more than waterbased, you end up getting more bang for your buck. It's even waterproof, making it perfect for shower sex. Just watch your footwork-- this stuff is as slippery as it gets!

Because it's not water soluble, you will need to use soap to fully remove it after use, but many don't mind how soft it can make your skin feel if you don't wash it off. In fact, people even use it on dry or chapped skin, to prevent chafing, and even in hair! Sounds like a clear winner, right? Unfortunately, silicone lube will stain clothing and sheets, so you have to use carefully or be willing to make a few sacrifices. Even worse, it's not compatible with your silicone toys.

Whether you've got a developed collection or just a couple favorite accessories, you want to make sure that your toys aren't damaged by the lubrication you're using. There are lubricant companies that will assert that they can be used with ANY toy material and toy companies that claim they are compatible with any type of lubricant. The rule of thumb, which I will be sticking by, is that silicone lubricant is only compatible with non-silicone toys. So when you're using your favorite silicone dildo or vibe, make sure you stick to water-based lubricants only.

Here's another experiment you can try: you'll need a silicone toy that also has a silicone base (maybe a dildo or butt plug) and just a tiny bit of silicone lube. On a corner of the base, rub a small amount of the lube. When you wipe it off, you'll notice that it's left behind a spot of deterioration. Scrub as hard as you want with any type of soap, that spot will never be the same again.

Silicone lube will degrade your silicone toys. It is, however, perfectly safe for TPR, TPE, metal, glass, or ABS plastic toys. If your heart (and other parts) are set on silicone lube, go ahead and wrap your silicone toy in a condom before use to preserve the material. The small amount of silicone lubricant on the inside of the condom will not damage your toy. Otherwise, it's best to stick with either hybrid or water-based lubricants, which are compatible with all toy materials.

Water-based lubricant typically won't last as long as silicone, particularly during more vigorous activity, but it makes up for it by having, honestly, no other downsides. Apart from being compatible with literally every material, water-based formulas won't stain your sheets or clothing. They're water soluble, so you can either let them dissolve inside you or have a quick rinse off with water. Water-based lubes also come in a variety of viscosities, ranging from very thin and slippery to thick and gel-like.

For the best of both worlds, you can use a hybrid lubricant, which combines silicone for longevity and water-based for versatility. Hybrid lubes are safe for use with your toys, despite the small amount of silicone, will not stain fabric, and will last well even during your hottest and heaviest sessions. The viscosity leans more towards the water-based side, with a smooth consistency that is just a little bit thick.

It’s all about the bass. Yep, we've come to the butt-stuff portion of our program. Every time I hear about my friends using spit for lube, my butthole clenches up a little (although there is a lube for that). That may be enough for the pros, but I need a bit more help than that. If you're new to anal, have had a bad experience before, or you're introducing a partner to it, I cannot emphasize enough the necessity for a good lubricant. Unless you savor every minute sensation, a thicker gel lubricant will provide a lot of cushion for your tush, creating a more comfortable penetration for both parties. Use a lube launcher to coat the inside of your anus so that, when thrusting occurs, you won't be left high and dry. Silicone lubricant, of course, isn't going anywhere, so it'll keep your sphincter slippery for the duration of your ass-lovin, but it usually isn't as thick as water-based. Anal sex should feel good, so always keep these three things in mind: preparation, relaxation, and communication. And lube, lube, lube!

Sexuality is still a relatively taboo subject, so it makes sense that people will have questions. It's not always easy to ask them in person or to shop in person, but there's so much information on the internet that we often feel just as lost as we seek out answers. When it comes to your sexual health, it's important that you're presented with accurate information. Hopefully, by this point you're not still staring at your screen, overwhelmed with your options. Maybe you figured out what you wanted halfway through, and you aren't even reading this anymore. Hello? Is anybody out there?