Good personal lubricant is like ice-cream topping. Sure, you can eat ice-cream without topping and still enjoy it, but that little extra makes it even more pleasurable, especially when the pairing is perfect.
The same goes for sexual intimacy. You can have sex or use adult toys without lubricant but incorporating the right one can make the experience so much more comfortable and create a range of exciting sensations. But when should you use which type?
Whether you’re playing solo or with your lover, here’s all you need to know about choosing the best lubricant for the job.
Silicone-based lubricant is long-lasting and leaves a thin, silky smooth layer on the skin’s surface. Because it’s long-wearing and not absorbed by the skin, silicone-based lubricant is ideal for anal sex and aquatic play – just remember you’ll need to wash it off the skin with soap after use.
Generally, silicone-based lubricant should not be used with silicone toys because it can damage the material, however, it is compatible with glass, wood, steel and ABS (hard) plastic.
Hybrid lubricants tend to offer the best properties of water-based and silicone-based lubricants. For example, hybrid lubricant with a small proportion of silicone can be long-lasting and easy to clean while remaining safe to use with silicone toys.
Silicone-free hybrid lubricants are also available and can be water and coconut-based, for example, resulting in a delicate yet distinctive aroma.
As the name suggests, anal lubricant is specially designed for anal sex, and that’s because of its thick, long-lasting formulation. That said, it can still be used for vaginal sex if desired.
Anal lubricant is often, but not always, silicone-based and therefore should not be used with silicone toys; try water-based anal lubricant for this purpose instead.
Some anal lubricants contain ingredients, such as benzocaine, that create numbing sensation to lessen the pain that can be associated with anal play. The anus has thin, sensitive tissues and unlike the vagina, does not produce its own lubrication. Take care if using desensitising lubricant because it can make harder to detect irritation, tears or internal damage until the numbness wears off.
If you’re experiencing pain during anal play, start slowly and gently with smaller toys and plenty of compatible lubricant. The more relaxed you are, the more comfortable insertion will be.
For adults who prefer natural lubricants, organic varieties can be a good choice. The meaning of ‘organic’ can vary across brands so check the ingredients and for official certification.
Organic can mean a given lubricant contains certain ingredients or does not contain artificial substances. Lubricant can never be 100 per cent organic because water cannot be certified as such.
Generally, women’s lubricants are designed to supplement or mimic natural feminine lubrication. They can provide moisture and support a healthy vaginal environment. Some options are designed especially for women experiencing hormone-related changes to their intimate areas.
Men’s lubricants often have a higher viscosity to provide a thicker cushion of pleasure, making them perfect for use when stroking.
Some thick, pillowy lubricants with a gel-like texture even stay in place exactly where needed and pair well with masturbators to deliver a pleasurably wet sensation.
Jelly lubricant, depending on the formulation, can be ideal for texture play. They can be water-based or silicone-based and remain thick during use or melt into a smooth glide.
Some jelly lubricant is stringy like chewing gum making it perfect for those seeking a unique touch sensation.
Gel lubricants can be among the thickest and some provide a pillow-like texture that stays in place without dripping or thinning too quickly. They’re particularly well-suited to rigorous play and use with masturbators made from compatible materials.
If you’re seeking the look, feel or smell of intimate male or female fluids, realistic lubricants are the best choice. These lubricants can be water-based, silicone-based or a hybrid, providing options for solo, couples and toy play.
Massage glides are perfect for all-over body use, and can be water, silicone or oil-based. They are formulated for effortless massage, whether to create a sensual experience with your partner, soothe aching muscles or leave the skin silky soft after bathing.
While massage glides can be used in foreplay, not all types can be used as lubricant – they can contain ingredients, such as perfumes, that may irritate delicate areas or substances, like oil, that may damage condoms.
Water-based and silicone-based lubricants are safe to use with most condoms and can be a simple way to reduce the risk of condom breakage and make safe sex even more pleasurable. Hybrid lubricants can also be condom-compatible depending on the ingredients.
Substances that should generally not be used with condoms include oils, petroleum jelly and butter.
Always check the packaging of your sex toy or condom for manufacturer’s recommendations on the most suitable lubricant to use with it.