The "Lube Tube" - Understanding Lubricants


Cory Silverberg is the co-founder of COME AS YOU ARE, a unique sex store in Toronto, as well as the co-author of "The Ultimate Guide to Sex and Disability", the best book on the subject. He is also the sex toy "wrangler" for TALK SEX, and provides many of the toys you see on air. In addition, Cory answers viewer mail on sexual concerns on about.com.

We receive many emails with questions about lubricants - what to use for anal, with toys, etc. Here is a brief overview from Cory:


Cory's Lube Picks There are three types of lube available - oil-based, water-based, and silicone. You cannot use oil-based lubes with condoms, and, just in general, they are less healthy because they clog pores and are difficult to clean off. So, we will focus on the other two types.

Water-based Lubes - These are easy to wash off and do not harm condoms or sex toys. Their main drawback is that they do not last as long during performance as do silicone lubes - but they are much cheaper.

Silicone Lubes - Usually a bit thicker than water-based, they hold up well during sex and will not harm condoms. However, they are expensive, and they CANNOT be used with silicone toys. Silicone lube causes silicone toys to melt, and you really don't want to deal with that sticky mess!

Ingredients in Lubes - The major additive to consider is glycerin. Glycerin breaks down into sugars, and - if you are prone to yeast infections - this may aggravate the condition. However, the research on this is inconclusive. Also, people with sensitive skin may react to 'parabens' - a chemical preservative - in the lube. So, if you are having trouble with a lube, these are two ingredients to consider. For most people, though, neither presents a problem.

Can you use household products, such as olive oil or baby oil, as a lube? - We get asked this alot, and the answer is no. Baby oil is oil-based and will destroy condoms. Both olive and baby oil can clog pores, potentially encouraging vaginal yeast infections. The rule of thumb is this - if a product says "For External Use Only" on the label, or if it was intended for another purpose (e.g. cooking!), do NOT stick it in your body. Lubes are cheap. Get off your ass and go buy some.

What about warming lubes? - They don't really "warm" much, but they are harmless. If you have sensitive skin, you may want to avoid them.

Can you use vaginal lube for anal intercourse? - Yes, but anal lubes are thicker and better suited for rear entry. They don't dry out as quickly.

Cory's Recommendations:

  • Astroglide - Good, long-lasting water-based lubricant, widely available; many say it mimics natural vaginal lubrication. It has glycerin and chemical preservatives though.
  • Probe - Water-based lube with the fewest ingredients, good for people with sensitive skin. Thicker, unique stringy consistency.
  • K-Y Mist, Warming - Water-based warming lube that comes in a pump bottle, very convenient to use.
  • Liquid Silk - Water-based, but non-tacky.
  • Maximum or Astrogel - Good thick lubes that are recommended for toys and/or anal play.
  • O'My Flavors - Water-based, flavoured. Tastes not bad.
  • Eros Silicone - The classic silicone lube, long-lasting, feels like oil but safe for condoms.
  • Pink Silicone Lubricant - Spray bottle, comes off a little easier than Eros.
  • Boy Butter - Water-based, thick cream, designed specifically for anal.