Lubricants 101 – These Ain’t Your Parents’ Lubes!

by Kinkly
Published: FEBRUARY 17, 2016 | Updated: APRIL 20, 2020
Lubricants have come a long way and there are so many to choose from. Getting right requires a little know-how.

Water-based. Silicone-based. Flavored. “Tingling.”


With so many different lubes available today, it can be overwhelming to decide which one is right for you.

To clear some of the confusion, we’ve put together some of our favorite lubes, and broken them down by category. All featured picks are body-safe, PETA-certified, and incredibly effective. So, whether you’re shopping online, or at your favorite local sex toy store, we’ve got you covered!

Water-based Lubes

Water-based lubes are the most popular category on the market. This is largely because of their no-brainer versatility. They’re condom safe, compatible with all sex toy materials, and water-soluble, which makes them a breeze to clean up. This same water-solubility also means that water-based lubricants are easily absorbed into the skin, and may require occasional reapplication to keep things moving. (Our water-based lube pick? Mood Water-Based Glide.)


Silicone-based Lubes

Silicone-based lubricants don’t dry out as quickly as water-based lubes. They are great for longer-lasting sexual encounters. They also have the advantage of being latex compatible and condom safe.

If it’s water-play you’re after, silicone-based lubes are the perfect pick. They will stay slick until soap is applied. It is generally recommended that you avoid using silicone lubes with silicone sex toys because the lube can degrade the silicone in the toy. (Our top silicone-based pick? Sliquid Silver Lubricant.)

Hybrid Lubes

Hybrid lubes are a blend of water- and silicone-based lubricants, and they have some of the best properties of each. They’re safe to use with condoms and are usually compatible with silicone sex toys (when in doubt, try doing a patch test first). Hybrids also last longer than regular, water-based lubricants and are more likely to stay slick underwater. (Our top hybrid lube pick? Bella Amore Passionale.)


Oil-based Lubes

Oil-based (AKA petroleum-based) lubricants can be great for male masturbation thanks to their thick and long-lasting properties; but they’re not ideal for internal use. That’s because oil-based lubes can cause irritation and promote bacterial growth in the vagina and rectal lining. Do not use oil-based with condoms or other latex barriers. They can cause the latex material to break down.

Anal Lubes

Anal lubes are formulated to be slightly thicker than your average lube, with extra slickness that doesn’t easily dry out. The anus doesn't self-lubricate, so you want something with a little more ‘cushion for the pushin.’

Anal lubes containing desensitizing agents like benzocaine or lidocaine should be used with caution. Pain can serve as an important marker to help you avoid injury. As an alternative, many people enjoy warming anal lubes, which help to naturally relax the muscles. (Our top pick for anal lube? TitanMen Heavy Load Enhanced Silicone Glide.)


Warming and Cooling Lubes

Certain lubes are formulated to have an extra “oomph” to spice things up, or add another dimension to your sex life. This might be warming lube, cooling lube, tingling lube, and so on. Flavored lubes are typically water-based. Tastes can range from cinnamon to strawberry and can include even more exotic flavoring combinations such as Cherry Vanilla and pink lemonade.

Some Final Thoughts on Lube

In the end, choosing the “perfect” lube all comes down to you: what works best for your body and your own unique preferences. There’s no need to limit yourself to just one! You might like a thicker lube for anal sex, but prefer a thinner water-based lube for everyday use. Variety packs are a great way to compare different categories, and get a feel for which kinds you like best. Finding the best lubricants to enhance your sex life should be taken as a journey, not a destination.


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