Most of us have had 1 or 2 lube fails whether that’s buying one that ends up a total disappointment or user error related. There are so many things to consider when buying a lube and even more when attempting to use a lube so lets spend a little time talking about the etiquettecies of lubricant, from shopping for one to using one.
Lets start with some basic information.
There are 3 different kinds of lubes; water, silicone and oil based. From there you can have a hybrid of any of them. Water-based are usually the most versatile, natural and body safe. It’s safe for both silicone toys and condom use but some water based lubes do not do well in water. Silicone based is hypoallergenic and can be great for sensitive skin but not great for silicone toys. This type of lube will eat your favorite silicone dildo for breakfast. Silicone lube tends to be long lasting and is water repellent. Oil based lubes are even longer lasting then silicone. This type of lube however is associated with higher rates of infection and is not latex condom friendly. Oh and if you get it on your sheets or clothing, not even your mother in law will be able to get that stain out! Now with this basic knowledge lets talk about some important things to consider.
How will it be used? This is an important question to ask yourself due to the many different formulas of lubricants out there as we just talked about. Different lubes are designed for different types of play. Some are made for anal, some are more favorable for use with sex toys and condoms, some are made to taste good for oral pleasure, and others are great for getting busy with your partner in the shower or a little extra pleasure in the bath. Unfortunately there is not a lube that is going to cover all the bases so if this is your first time or millionth time buying a new lube, prioritize! Identify the 3 most important factors. For example, here are my priorities when lube shopping:
- Must be body safe! I am pretty sensitive and will get a UTI or yeast infection just from thinking about it.
- Must be toy friendly! I LOVE my toys, I use them on my own and during sex so the lube must get along with my toys.
- And as of right now my other top priority is that the lube must be conducive to baby making J
Setting these criteria helps to narrow down your search and make it feel less overwhelming. From time to time these priorities may change. Two months from now I might have a strange craving for strawberries, chocolate and oral sex… who knows!
Who will be using it? Obviously you but will it be your husband or wife, the random but hot waiter you picked up at the bar, your long time friend with benefits who happens to be your son’s baseball coach or the magical 3rd you and your husband have been vetting for months? When picking out a lube considering who will be using it may affect your 3 priorities. For instance, if you are picking out a lube to have on hand just incase you find yourself back at your place after your Bumble date you might want to prioritize body safe and go with a lube that has no scent, taste or artificial coloring. If you are using a lube with someone you are familiar with consider what his or her lube priorities are before buying or better yet make your lube priority list and pick one out together!
Bring the who and how together. If you follow The Study on Instagram you might have seen me share one of our lube fails on our story but if not let me lay it out for you in short. It was my first time using lube. My boyfriend at the time (now husband) didn’t ask if lube was ok, applied it like he was basting the Thanksgiving turkey. To try to deal with the excessive amount of lube he proceeded to massage it all over my crotch and into my urethra, which cause a wicked UTI. Meanwhile I laid there and didn’t speak up. We were both idiots and we didn’t know what we didn’t know. So here are some basics things you need to know about using lube solo and partnered.
- Let me make this very clear, CONSENT is needed. I’m not just talking about consent for sex I mean for the use of the lube specifically. There is nothing worse then being in the moment feeling hot and horny and someone slaps some cold wet lube on your genitals without asking and you spend the rest of the time wondering if your going to have an allergic reaction, wake up with a wicked UTI or obsessing if your risk for STI’s was double by the nonconsensual lube use.
- Start with a little and add as needed. If you are using a new lube start with a little to test that you and your partner are not going to have a reaction. Even if it’s not a new lube don’t get carried away a little can go a long way. You can always add more but you can’t add less.
- Talk dirty to your partner. J I know, not what you expected but let me elaborate. Ask your partner “how they want it, where they want it, how it feels, if they want more.” These sensual questions help to open up the communication, making sure everyone is enjoying the lube experience. If you’re not feeling the dirty talk hash out the details of the lube use before hand. Tell your partner how and where you want it applied or simply apply it to yourself.
Safety first! Ok you’ve heard me mention it like a few times now so lets address this. A lot of people don’t know this but not all lubes are created with the well being of the body as the first priority. Some lubes have chemicals in them like propylene glycol and petroleum others are filled with parabens and use glycerin for its moisture retention qualities. Not only have some of these chemicals been linked to cancer but a lot of these ingredients have major affects on pH-balance and osmolality. When these factors are affected there is increased risk of infection for vaginas, penis and anuses.
Most of us know pH-balance as it relates to swimming pools and hot tubs but did you know vaginas and anuses have a pH-balance as well? Oh yeah and semen to! Our vaginas are constantly working to maintain homeostasis to protect the delicate tissues, help your body produce natural lubrication and fight off bacteria and infections. Our anuses do this too with rectal mucus. If your pH balance is off you are at higher risk for STI’s and bacterial infections like yeast infections, BV or HIV. The average pH level of vaginas ranges from 3.8 to 4.5 the anus ranges from 5.5 to 7. The World Health Organization recommends using a lubricant with pH of 4.5 of vaginal use. For anal use anything under 5.5 will likely cause irritation and burning which is bad for business. The pH of seminal fluid is usually between 7.2 and 7.4. The alkalinity of healthy seminal fluid neutralizes the acidity of the vaginal fluid so that the swimmers can make a safe journey to the egg. If you are using a lube that is not pH compatible with the natural vaginal fluids it could make it more difficult to conceive. Keep in mind that during your cycle, your pH level raises around ovulation. So a lube with a high pH than usually desired is suggested. According to study conducted by Mackenzie Scott in 2019 Pre-Seed is the most tested and recommend lube for conception. It’s formulated to match the pH of fertile fluids like cervical fluid and seminal fluid.
Osmolality refers to a substances ability to draw moisture out of tissues and cells. When a lube with to low of an osmolality is introduced to your body the cells immediately try to regulate the over abundance of moisture by drinking in the extra water and they drink and drink until they explode. This is not conducive for conception purposes. When the vagina is exposed to a lubricant with to high of an osmolality everything seems all fine and dandy at first because the cells try to regulate by surrendering all their water which makes everything wet and slippery to begin with until the water runs out. Then your left high and dry thinking you need more lube but really the lube is making it worse. When this occurs in the vagina or anus, the dryness and friction cause micro-tears increasing the likelihood of contracting a STI or HIV. For that just right osmolality you want to find a lube that is as close to the osmolality of your natural lubricant, which is 280 for vaginas. The WHO recommends using a lube with osmolality at least below 1200 for both the vagina and anus.
Now it’s not an easy feat to find a lube that meets the WHO’s recommendation. There are just not that many lubes on the market that fit the “Goldie Locks” standard of just right but here is a list of a few. Some of these we’ve tried and loved, some of these we carry and some of these we hope to carry for you soon.