If you're looking for a game-changer when it comes to sex, look no further than the feminine care aisle of your local drugstore. That's where you'll find lubricant.
The Best Kind of Lube for Every Sexual Scenario
“There's no shortage of studies, both self-reported and single-blind, that demonstrate that most people find sex with store-bought lube to be more pleasurable and satisfying,” says Dr. Jill McDevitt, CalExotics’ resident sexologist.
In fact, a new survey conducted by CalExotics found that approximately 50% of the adult population needs/uses extra lubrication during sex. “Not only does it add to sensations and take away discomforts, it allows you to stretch the limits of your body. Using lube is so beneficial because when it comes down to it, wetter sex is better sex!”
Still, there’s a lot of controversy surrounding lube and women. “[People think] it’s either for old ladies or bad girls,” says Jenny Block, author of "The Ultimate Guide to Solo Sex." But a simple squeeze of lube can help make sex more fun by heightening pleasurable sensations, regardless of your age. So, even if you don’t think you "need" it, you might find that you actually like it.
Lube makes all types of sex hotter. “Not only can you experiment with a wider array of positions and techniques when you add the slippery stuff, but research continues to suggest that using lube is associated with more pleasure and orgasms,” says Dr. Jess O’Reilly, Astroglide’s resident sexologist. “You know your body best, so you’ll likely want to experiment with a variety of formulas to better understand what works best for you.”
And yet, not all lubes are created equal. In fact, choosing the right one for you can be downright confusing. Just like with any other product you apply to your skin, there may be a bit of trial and error involved. After all, the eye cream that you swear by might give your best friend a rash. If you haven’t found a lube that feels good, just keep browsing. Hit up your local sex store, see how different products feel between your fingers, and take home a few samples. (Several lube companies sell sample packs online as well.)
Here are Dr. Jess O’Reilly’s lube recommendations for every sexual scenario:
Lube for Anal Play (External)
This is really a matter of personal preference. You might want to opt for a water-based liquid formulation or a water-based gel that provides a little more texture.
Lube for Anal Play (Penetrative)
Many people prefer silicone-based lube for any type of anal sex that includes penetration, as it’s thicker, silkier and slicker than water-based formulations. It also tends to be longer lasting.
Lube for Shower Sex
Water-based lubes will wash away in the shower, so select a thicker, silicone-based lube for shower and tub play, whether solo or partnered. Astroglide Diamond Silicone gel offers a waterproof formula that is also compatible with natural rubber latex, polyurethane, and polyisoprene condoms.
Lube for Hand Jobs
Because your hands don’t lubricate themselves (sweat simply won’t cut it), many people prefer a silicone-based lube for hand-play.
Lube for Oral Sex
You might assume that you don’t need lube for oral sex, but many folks find that oral is more comfortable and pleasurable if they add a drop or two of lube. This is particularly useful if you’re trying to get a little bit of a grip as you lick, slip, slide, suck and twist away. For oral on a penis, consider adding a drop to your lips; for oral pleasure on the vulva, you might want to add a few drops to your warm cheeks. I like Astroglide Organix, which contains no parabens, hormones, fragrances, or flavors. You could also try a flavored lube like Sex in the Shower's Lickable Warming Lube.
Lube for Sex toys
If you’re using silicone sex toys, it’s advisable to use a water-based lube, as silicone lube can lead to the deterioration of softer sex toys. If your sex toys are made of harder materials like wood, steel or glass, you can use almost any type of lube according to your preference.
Lube for Sex With Condoms
If you’re using condoms, you’ll want to use a lube that is condom tested per ASTM condom compatibility guidelines as laid out by the FDA. All of Astroglide’s lubricants undergo this testing and different lubes are compatible with different condoms. For example, Astroglide Liquid is compatible with latex condoms, their Gel formulation is latex and polyurethane compatible and their Natural version is compatible with latex and polyisoprene condoms. Their Diamond Silicone Gel is compatible with latex, polyurethane and polyisoprene condoms. Most water-based lubes are compatible with latex, but be sure to do a little research if you aren't sure.
What about Oil-based lubricants?
Do not use Vaseline, baby oil coconut oil or body lotions that contain oil as lubricant if you’re using latex condoms, dams or gloves as part of your safer sex practice. Oil-based lubes and lotions are not designed to be used with condoms and can weaken latex causing it to break. You may, however, prefer a lube that contains oil for full-body massage and other forms of sensual touch. Some people like oil-based lube for anal play as well.
Lube for Slow Sex
If you’re planning on prolonging the experience, you'll likely want a lube that will stay slippery for a longer period of time. Silicone lubes tend to be the best fit, but whatever you use, you can always apply a bit more as needed.
The Bottom Line
Make sure that whatever lube you choose, it contains high-quality ingredients. That said, if you’re in a pinch, Lauren Streicher, medical director of the Northwestern Medicine Center for Sexual Medicine and Menopause in Chicago, says it’s probably OK to turn to whatever you have on hand. "It’s better than the alternative, which could be painful sex,” she says.
Ryn Pfeuffer is a versatile print and digital writer specializing in sex, lifestyle, and relationship topics. Over the past two decades, her work has appeared in more than 100 media outlets including Marie Claire, Playboy, Refinery29, The Globe and Mail, The Washington Post, WIRED, and Thrillist.
She adopted a pseudonym and was AVN’s (Adult Video Network) first female porn reviewer – while penning children’s books at the same time. More recently, she is the author of 101 Ways to Rock Online Dating (2019). She lives in Seattle with her rescue dog, Mimi. You can find her on Twitter @rynpfeuffer or IG @ryn_says