Hand squeezing a bottle of lube on a pink background.
Safer Sex

What Lube Can Do For You (and Your Sex Life)

By Kathleen Morrison

We’ve all seen the typical Hollywood sex scene: our couple kisses passionately, clothes magically come off, there may be some thrusting, and then it’s all over. No one ever needs to awkwardly struggle with their socks, spend any time on foreplay, or run to the bathroom to grab a condom. There’s one more thing Hollywood tends to gloss over — using lube during sex! In the real world, lots of us need a little extra help to keep sex comfortable and even if you don’t, there’s plenty of ways that lube can make sex more fun.

What Is Lube?

Lube is anything that reduces friction during sex. That can mean reducing the friction between genitals, between other body parts (like a hand and a penis), or between your body and a sex toy. Reducing that friction can help eliminate pain or chafing and increase pleasure! There are lots of different materials that can be used as lube, but the ones that are the safest and effective are typically oil-based, water-based, or silicone-based.

Silicone-based lube: Silicone-based lube is the gold standard when it comes to staying-power and slickness. These qualities make it ideal for anal sex and shower sex, and silicone-based lubes are still safe for use with condoms. Although silicone is perfectly safe to use with your body, it doesn’t absorb so it can be a pain to clean up. You also shouldn’t use it with silicone sex toys — silicone dissolves silicone so silicone-based lubes will ruin your toys!

Oil-based lube: This type of lube is often preferred by people who enjoy natural options. Coconut oil is very popular because it works well, is usually non-irritating for those with sensitive skin, and has that pleasant coconut smell. Plus, it’s easily accessible at your local grocery store — no awkward interactions with a drug store cashier! However, it’s important to know that oil-based lubes aren’t compatible with latex condoms. Oil reacts with latex and weakens it, making it more likely to break during sex.

Water-based lube: Water-based lubes are very popular because they work with condoms and sex toys, and are mess-free! They won’t stain sheets (unlike silicone or oil options) and are easily absorbed by your body so there’s nothing to wash off once you’re finished. The downside? They can get sticky over time and won’t last in the shower. They also aren’t quite as slippery as silicone options

Why should I use lube?

There are lots of reasons why lube always helps—and never hurts—to have on hand.

  • Lube prevents injury. Sex without the proper lubrication can lead to irritation, micro-tearing, chafing, and general discomfort. Even if you produce enough lube naturally, there may be times your body refuses to cooperate (this can happen even if you’re just a bit dehydrated!). Having a bottle of lube handy ensures a pain-free experience every time. There’s no such thing as too much lube!

  • Lube reduces STI risk. That irritation I talked about earlier? It can increase your risk of contracting an STI. An irritated and inflamed skin barrier makes it easier for viruses and bacteria to get past your body’s defenses and take hold. Lubing up will keep things silky-smooth and keep your body’s defenses intact.

  • If you’re experiencing a reduction in natural lubrication. There are lots of great things about getting older, but hormonal changes aren’t usually one of them. These changes often lead to vaginal dryness which can make sex painful and unpleasant. Getting older isn’t the only pesky culprit — breastfeeding, those taking medications, and having certain medical concerns can all lead to a reduction in your natural lubrication. Lube can help! Incorporate it into your sex life to keep things smooth sailing from here on out.

What to Know Before You Buy Lube

If this is your first time choosing a lube, or if you know you have sensitive skin, you’ll want to stay cautious. Lots of lube products contain fragrances or other irritating ingredients that could cause your most sensitive areas to react. Watch out for words like “warming” or “tingling” — these labels may claim their product is meant to enhance pleasure, but you may end up with a bit more “tingling” than you bargained for!

You should also watch out for flavored or edible lubes. Many of these products contain sugars that can lead to yeast infections or general discomfort. Stick to the basics by looking for labels that promote sensitivity, or ask a pro at your local sex toy shop — they have expert level knowledge on their products and can point you in the right direction as to what will work best for your needs.

A good rule of thumb: check the ingredients list and avoid any lubricant that contains any artificial flavors, colors, sugars, essential oils, additional additives, or glycerine. These additives are known to be irritating.

All of this sounding a little too complicated for you? Wisp has just launched our own Harmonizing Lube! It’s silicone-based and specially formulated to be extra gentle for all bodies. It’s never sticky, effective in water, and will help maintain your natural pH balance so your post-sex glow isn’t interrupted by annoying irritation. Nice.

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