Smooth Moves: A Guide to Personal Lubricants

Lubricants are like the secret sauce of sex – they can make good sex great and great sex phenomenal. And who doesn't want that?

By Team Spafe

20 June 2023

Let’s talk about something super important but often overlooked in the bedroom: personal lubricants.

Forget the myths – good sex often includes reaching for that trusty bottle of lube. It’s all about making things more comfortable and, honestly, a whole lot more fun.

First things first: using lube isn’t about something lacking.

It’s about enhancing what’s already great.

Think about it – a bit of lube can turn a regular hand job from meh to wow!

And if anal play is on the menu, trust me, lube isn’t just nice to have; it’s a must unless you’re keen on a not-so-great experience.

But here’s the real kicker: even for the most standard P-in-V action, lube is a game changer.

It’s not just about making things smoother (though, yes, that’s a big part of it); it’s about showing you care. Your partner will definitely appreciate the extra thought you put into making sure everything goes smoothly (pun intended).

Let’s break it down:

  1. Choosing Your Lube: There’s a whole world of options – water-based, silicone-based, oil-based. Which one’s right for you? It depends on what you’re up to. We’ll go through the pros and cons of each.
  2. Lube and Your Health: Not all lubes are created equal. Some ingredients can be a no-no for sensitive skin. We’ll dive into what to look out for to keep your intimate times worry-free.
  3. Lube and Toys: Got a drawer full of fun gadgets? We’ll chat about which lubes play nice with your toys and which ones might cause a toy-tastrophy.
  4. Lube for Every Scenario: Whether it’s solo play, a twosome, or whatever floats your boat, there’s a lube for that. We’re here to guide you through it.

What are Personal Lubricants?

Personal lubricants, or lubes for short, are specially formulated gels or liquids that make things slide and glide more easily. They’re like the secret ingredient to making your intimate moments a lot more smooth and a whole lot less ouch.

Whether it’s because of nerves, not enough foreplay, or just the way your body’s feeling that day, sometimes your natural lubrication might not be enough. And that’s totally okay! That’s where lubes come in to save the day. They can be water-based (great for easy clean-up and toy play), silicone-based (super long-lasting for those marathon sessions), oil-based (hello, luxurious feel!), or even a hybrid mix.

But it’s not just about making things wetter. The right lube can enhance sensations, making every touch feel more intense and every move more satisfying. And hey, for solo adventures or experimenting with toys, lube can make everything feel a lot more… well, amazing.

In short, personal lubricants are the unsung heroes of sex. They’re here to make sure everything goes smoothly, from start to blissful finish. So, whether you’re a lube newbie or a seasoned pro, remember: a little lube can go a long way in ramping up the pleasure factor in your intimate escapades.

Our Recommended Personal Lubricants

NameTypeRating (5)Price
Durex K-Y Water-Based4.6$10 – $15
Astroglide LiquidWater-Based4.3$8-10
Four Seasons PureWater-Based4.5$10-15
Durex Perfect GlideSilicone-Based4.5$5-8

Types of Personal Lubricants

Like a menu at your favourite restaurant, the world of personal lubricants has something for everyone;

  • Water-Based Lubricants are versatile and safe with all toys and condoms. They can, however, dry out a bit faster, but a little water or saliva brings it right back!
  • Silicone-Based Lubricants last longer than their water-based counterparts, perfect for water play but a big no-no for silicone toys.
  • Oil-Based Lubricants are long-lasting but can damage latex condoms – important to remember for safe sex!
  • Hybrid Lubricants offer the best of both worlds, balancing the lasting power and slipperiness.
  • Specialised Lubricants, including flavoured, organic, warming, or cooling options, add a touch of fun and variety.

Comparing Different Types of Lubricants

Here’s a table comparing these four types of personal lubricants across several important factors:

TypeFeelCondom CompatibilitySex Toy CompatibilityDurationCleanup
Water-BasedLight, natural, can get sticky over timeSafe with all typesSafe with all typesShortest (reapplication often needed)Easiest (rinses off with water)
Oil-BasedThick, creamy, long-lastingNOT safe with latex condoms (can cause breakage)Safe with most types, but can degrade some materialsLongest (rarely needs reapplication)Requires soap and water
Silicone-BasedSilky, smooth, doesn’t dry outSafe with all typesNOT safe with silicone toys (can cause degradation)Long-lasting (seldom needs reapplication)Requires soap and water
Hybrid (Water & Silicone)Combines the natural feel of water with the longevity of siliconeSafe with all typesMostly safe, but perform a patch test with silicone toysLasts longer than water-based, but may need occasional reapplicationEasier than oil and silicone, but not as simple as water

Please remember that personal preferences and individual body responses can vary widely, so it’s always a good idea to try different types and brands to find what works best for you.

Water-based Lubricant

Water-Based Lubricants are often hailed as the most versatile option in the personal lubricant universe, and for good reason. Here’s a closer look at what sets them apart:

1. Compatibility with Condoms and Sex Toys

Water-based lubricants are compatible with all types of condoms—latex, polyisoprene, and polyurethane. That makes them a safe bet if you’re practicing safer sex. They’re also safe to use with all sex toys, including silicone ones, as they won’t cause any degradation to the materials.

2. Easy Clean-up

One of the significant perks of water-based lubricants is their easy clean-up. Unlike silicone or oil-based alternatives, water-based lubes rinse off easily with water, leaving no residue behind. This ease of clean-up extends to sheets and clothing too, which is always a plus!

3. Available in a Variety of Formulations

There’s a water-based lubricant to suit just about every preference and need. You’ll find options that are flavored, colored, organic, warming, cooling, and even specially designed to mimic natural body lubrication. Some are thicker for more cushiony comfort (often labeled as ‘gel’ or ‘jelly’), while others are thinner for a more natural feel.

4. Good for Sensitive Skin

Water-based lubes are generally less likely to cause skin irritation or allergic reactions compared to silicone or oil-based options. That’s partly because they usually don’t leave a residue, and partly because they’re often formulated to match the body’s natural pH.

5. Rehydratable

Although water-based lubricants can dry out during use, they have a unique advantage: they can be ‘reactivated’ with a little water or saliva. That means if things start to get a little less slippery, you don’t need to reach for the bottle again—just a bit of moisture will do the trick.

The one significant drawback to water-based lubes is that they’re not suitable for water play, as they’ll dissolve and wash away. But for virtually everything else, they’re an excellent, user-friendly choice!

Silicone-Based Lubricant

If you’re seeking a smooth and long-lasting experience, look no further than silicone-based lubricants.

These types of lube are known for their silky texture and impressive staying power. Unlike water-based lubricants, which can dry out and get sticky over time, silicone lubes remain slick and comfortable for extended periods.

They are water-resistant, making them the go-to choice for aquatic adventures in the shower, bath, or pool. Plus, they are safe to use with latex condoms, adding an extra layer of protection without sacrificing pleasure.

However, take note when combining them with your playthings – silicone-based lubes can degrade silicone toys. So, if you’re in for a marathon session or some wet and wild fun, silicone-based lubricants might just be your new best friend in the bedroom.

Here’s some of the key things to consider;

1. Exceptional Longevity

One of the standout characteristics of silicone-based lubricants is their lasting power. They don’t evaporate or get absorbed into the skin the way water-based lubes do, which means you don’t need to reapply them as often. This long-lasting slickness can be especially beneficial during longer sessions or when friction is high, such as with anal sex.

2. Perfect for Water Play

Unlike their water-based counterparts, silicone lubricants don’t dissolve in water, making them the ideal choice for fun in the shower, tub, pool, or any aquatic setting you can think of! Remember, though, that using silicone lube in the shower or tub can make surfaces very slippery, so be extra careful to avoid slips and falls.

3. Not Toy-Friendly (usually)

Silicone-based lubricants are generally not recommended for use with silicone sex toys. The silicone lube can cause the surface of a silicone toy to become sticky or even degrade over time. That said, they’re compatible with toys made of other materials, such as glass or metal.

4. Less Likely to Cause Irritation

Because silicone lubricants stay on the skin’s surface and aren’t absorbed, they’re less likely to cause irritation or upset the body’s natural balance in sensitive areas.

5. Condom-Compatible

Silicone-based lubes are safe to use with all latex and non-latex condoms. They provide a long-lasting slippery surface that enhances comfort and safety during condom use.

6. A Little Goes a Long Way

Silicone lubricants tend to be more “spreadable” than water or oil-based options. That means you often need less product to achieve the desired effect, which can make silicone lubes more economical in the long run.

However, silicone-based lubricants do have a couple of potential downsides to consider:

  • They can be more challenging to clean off skin and fabrics. Some people find that they need to shower or use a special cleanser to fully remove silicone lube.
  • Because silicone lube has such a distinct, silky feel, some people find that it doesn’t feel as “natural” as water-based lubes.

At the end of the day, the best lubricant for you is the one that makes your experiences more comfortable, pleasurable, and safe. If you’re curious about silicone-based lubes, consider giving one a try and see how it enhances your personal journey. And remember, exploration is all part of the fun!

Hybrid lubricants are a bit like the “best of both worlds” in lubricant land, combining the benefits of two different types of lubes into one. Let’s take a closer look:

Hybrid Lubricants

Hybrid lubricants are a bit like the “best of both worlds” in lubricant land, combining the benefits of two different types of lubes into one. Let’s take a closer look:

1. Composition of Hybrid Lubricants

Hybrid lubricants are typically a blend of water and silicone. They aim to offer the long-lasting slickness of a silicone lube with the easy clean-up and natural feel of a water-based lube.

2. Feel and Longevity

Hybrid lubricants tend to have a creamy or slightly gel-like texture. They’re usually silkier and longer-lasting than water-based lubes alone, but less intense and easier to wash off than pure silicone lubes. They offer a great balance of endurance and comfort.

3. Condom Compatibility

Like their water-based and silicone-based constituents, hybrid lubes are safe to use with all types of condoms—latex, polyisoprene, and polyurethane.

4. Toy Compatibility

While pure silicone lubes can damage silicone toys, most hybrid lubes are safe to use with all sex toys. The water in the formula dilutes the silicone enough to prevent it from interacting with the silicone in the toys. However, if you’re using high-quality, expensive silicone toys, you might want to do a spot test first to be sure.

5. Good for Sensitive Skin

Hybrid lubes often combine the skin-friendly properties of both water-based and silicone-based lubes. They tend not to dry out or get sticky, which makes them gentle on sensitive skin.

Hybrid lubricants can be a great choice for people who like the long-lasting slipperiness of silicone-based lubes but want something easier to clean up.

They’re also an excellent pick for those who find water-based lubes dry out too quickly but aren’t fans of the distinctive texture of silicone lubes. As always, it’s all about finding what works best for you and your body.

What to Consider When Choosing a Personal Lubricant

So, how do you pick? Start with your needs and preferences. What activities are you planning? Do you have any skin sensitivities? Are you going to pair it with toys or condoms? Answering these will guide you to the best choice for you.

1. Activity Type

Different types of sexual activities might require different types of lubricants. For example, water and silicone-based lubricants are typically best for vaginal sex. For anal sex, you might prefer a thicker lube, like a specialized anal lube or a silicone-based one. If you’re planning on water play, a silicone-based lube will stand up to the wet conditions.

2. Condom and Sex Toy Compatibility

If you’re using condoms, it’s crucial to choose a lube that’s safe for them. Water and silicone-based lubes are safe for all condoms, while oil-based lubes can degrade latex and certain types of plastic. If sex toys are part of your play, consider that silicone lubes can damage silicone toys, and oil-based lubes can be hard to clean off toys.

3. Skin Sensitivity

If you or your partner have sensitive skin, allergies, or are prone to infections, it’s important to choose a lube that won’t cause irritation. Look for hypoallergenic lubes or those designed for sensitive skin. Avoid lubes with potential irritants like parabens, glycerin, or certain flavors and fragrances. A patch test before use can also prevent unpleasant reactions.

4. Ingredients

Check the ingredient list of any lube before you buy it. Some ingredients to potentially avoid include parabens (linked to hormonal disruptions), petrochemicals (can irritate and dry out skin), and nonoxynol-9 (a spermicide that can cause irritation and increase STI transmission risk).

5. Personal Preference

The feel of a lubricant is highly personal. Some people prefer the natural, easy-to-clean feel of water-based lubes. Others like the long-lasting silkiness of silicone lubes, or the rich, thick texture of oil-based lubes. You might have to experiment with a few different types to find what you like best!

6. Specific Needs

Special circumstances may require specialised lubes. For example, if you’re trying to conceive, a fertility-friendly lube is a must. If you’re into sensation play, you might enjoy warming, cooling, or flavoured lubes.

Remember, the best lubricant is the one that makes your sexual experiences more comfortable, pleasurable, and safe. Don’t be afraid to try out a few different types to see what works best for you and your partner. Enjoy the journey!

Just like any product, there are some superstar brands in the lube world. Take time to read reviews, and look out for quality ingredients and reputable manufacturing practices.

How to Use Personal Lubricant

Using personal lubricant the right way can greatly enhance your comfort and pleasure. Here are some steps, tips, and quotes from people on how they use lube:

1. Select the Right Lube

Choosing a lube that suits your needs and preferences is key. As one user shared, “Trial and error is the name of the game. I tried several brands before finding one that felt best for me and my partner. Don’t be discouraged if the first one you try isn’t perfect!”

2. Apply Generously

Apply lube to both your body and your partner’s body or to your sex toys. “Less is not more when it comes to lube,” says one seasoned lube user. “I used to be shy about using it, but I’ve learned that a little extra lube only makes things better.”

3. Reapply as Needed

Don’t be shy about reapplying lube as needed. As one person noted, “I keep the bottle within arm’s reach. When things start to feel a bit dry, I don’t hesitate to take a pause and apply more.”

4. Experiment with Temperature and Sensation

Some people enjoy warming their lube in their hands before application, while others prefer a cooling sensation. “I love the shock of cool lube—it’s like a little thrill before the main event,” one user shared.

5. Use Lube for All Kinds of Sex

Remember, lube isn’t just for penetrative sex. “Lube is a game-changer for solo play and for things like handjobs,” says one lube enthusiast. “I never thought it would make such a difference, but it really does.”

6. Clean Up Properly

After the fun, proper clean up is essential, especially if you’re using silicone or oil-based lubes. “Taking a moment for clean up might not be the sexiest part of sex, but it saves a lot of hassle down the line. Plus, it can be part of aftercare!” one user noted.

Remember, everyone is different and it’s all about finding what works best for you. As one lube user put it, “Your comfort and pleasure are what matter most. Don’t be shy about experimenting to find out what you like!”

Using Personal Lubricant with Sex Toys

1. The Importance of Lube with Sex Toys

Lubricant is an essential part of safe and pleasurable sex toy use. It reduces friction, preventing discomfort, irritation, and potential damage to sensitive tissues. Furthermore, some toys, especially those intended for anal use, absolutely require lube since the anus doesn’t self-lubricate.

2. Choosing the Right Lube for Your Toy

The material of your sex toy largely dictates what type of lubricant you should use:

  • Silicone Toys: Avoid using silicone-based lubricants with these, as they can degrade the toy’s material over time. Instead, opt for a water-based or hybrid lube.
  • Glass, Stainless Steel, or Plastic Toys: These materials are non-porous and can be used with any type of lube – water, silicone, oil, or hybrid.
  • Cyberskin or other Realistic Materials: These are best used with water-based lubricants. Oil and silicone-based lubes can break down these materials over time.

3. Application of Lubricant

Ensure you apply enough lube to both the toy and your body for a comfortable experience. Remember, it’s always better to use too much lube than too little. With some toys, like anal beads or dildos, applying the lube directly to the toy works best.

4. Cleaning Your Sex Toys

Always clean your toys after use according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Most toys should be cleaned with mild soap and water, but some materials may require special care. If you’re using silicone or oil-based lubes, ensure you clean your toys thoroughly as these types of lubes can be more difficult to remove completely.

5. Using Condoms with Sex Toys

If you’re sharing toys with a partner, using a condom on the toy can prevent the transmission of STIs. Make sure the lube you’re using is compatible with the condom material.

Choosing the right lube for your sex toy can enhance your experience and prolong the life of your toys. Remember, safety and comfort should always come first, followed closely by pleasure!

Using Personal Lubricant with Condoms

Remember that not all lubricants are compatible with all types of condoms. For instance, oil-based lubricants can break down latex condoms, making them less effective.

On the other hand, water and silicone-based lubes are generally safe to use with most condoms. Here’s what you should consider;

1. Condom Compatibility

Not all lubricants are safe to use with all types of condoms. For example, oil-based lubricants should never be used with latex condoms as the oil can degrade the latex, increasing the risk of the condom breaking. Both water-based and silicone-based lubricants are safe to use with latex, polyisoprene, and polyurethane condoms.

2. Spermicidal Lubricants

Some lubricants contain spermicide (most commonly nonoxynol-9), which is a substance that kills sperm or prevents it from moving, adding an extra layer of contraceptive protection. However, frequent use of spermicidal lubes can cause irritation and increase the risk of STI transmission, so they’re generally not recommended for regular use.

3. Lubricants and Diaphragms/Cervical Caps

If you’re using a diaphragm or cervical cap for contraception, you should be aware that oil-based lubes can degrade the silicone in these devices. Stick to water or silicone-based lubes instead.

4. Fertility-Friendly Lubricants

On the flip side, if you’re trying to conceive, it’s important to note that some regular lubricants may inhibit sperm movement. There are fertility-friendly lubricants available that are specifically formulated to mimic the pH and consistency of fertile cervical mucus, making the environment more conducive for sperm.

5. Lubricant Use with Other Forms of Contraception

If you’re using contraceptive methods such as birth control pills, IUDs, or implants, your choice of lubricant is not affected by your contraceptive method and you can choose based on personal preference, compatibility with condoms, and sensitivity to ingredients.

It’s important to consider your contraceptive needs when choosing a personal lubricant. No matter what, your lubricant should enhance your sexual experience while also supporting your contraceptive goals.

Things to Avoid When Using Personal Lubricant

Absolutely, there are several things you should avoid when using personal lubricants to ensure safety and comfort. Let’s cover them:

1. Incompatible Lubricants and Condoms

As mentioned before, oil-based lubricants should never be used with latex condoms because the oil can break down the latex, causing it to break or tear. Always pair your latex condoms with water or silicone-based lubricants.

2. Irritating Ingredients

Avoid lubricants with ingredients that you know you’re allergic or sensitive to. Additionally, some common lube ingredients can cause irritation for some people, these include glycerin, parabens, and propylene glycol. If you’re prone to yeast infections, avoid lubricants with glycerin, which can promote yeast growth.

3. Nonoxynol-9

Nonoxynol-9 is a spermicide sometimes used in lubricants, but it can cause irritation and increase the risk of STI transmission. It’s generally recommended to avoid lubes containing nonoxynol-9, particularly for anal sex.

4. Using Silicone-Based Lubricants with Silicone Toys

Silicone-based lubricants should not be used with silicone sex toys as they can damage the material of the toy.

5. Numbing Lubricants

Some lubricants advertise numbing or desensitizing effects. These should generally be avoided because they can mask discomfort or pain, which might be your body’s way of telling you to slow down or stop.

6. Homemade Alternatives

Finally, avoid using homemade alternatives like Vaseline or cooking oil. These products aren’t designed for sexual use, can degrade condoms, and may cause infections.

Remember, when it comes to personal lubricants, safety should be your first concern. Always choose products designed for sexual use, and listen to your body’s reactions to the products you use. If you experience any irritation, discomfort, or other adverse reactions, discontinue use and consult a healthcare provider if necessary.

Wrapping it up

Embrace the world of personal lubricants—it’s a game-changer! Remember to choose wisely, use safely, and most importantly, have fun exploring what works best for you.

There you have it! With a little knowledge and a dash of experimentation, you’ll find the perfect personal lubricant to enhance your sexual journey. And remember, I’m here to help answer any other questions you might have along the way. Safe explorations, friends!