So many reasons to use lube! It's safe for use with most condoms and sex toys, it's good for people with sensitive skin or allergies, and it can be a great way to help the body generate its own natural lubrication.
There are a galaxy of options when it comes to shopping for personal lubricants! Flavored, warming, "organic", silicone, water-based…it can be overwhelming! Not to mention, it can be confusing to read a lube label!
When you add different types of condoms into the mix, the lube shopping process gets even more complex. Which lubes are compatible with various condom materials?
Knowing what ingredients are in your lube can help you make the most informed decision, so we put together a slick reference guide to help you shop for the best lubricant for your body! 😉
The first thing to keep in mind when shopping for lubes: not all lubricants are created equal! And we aren't just referring to silicone vs. a water-based lube. We are referring to the different formulas in each lube category - for example, Brand A's silicone lube vs. Brand B's silicone lube.
Personal lubricants are used to help with dryness and chafing among other things, but they can also be contaminated with chemicals that may cause irritation. These include:
Parabens - can disrupt your hormones
Fragrance - can contain allergens
Phthalates - can disrupt your hormones
Most common types of lubricants
Water-based - Compatible with all sex toy and condom materials
Silicone - Longer lasting and thicker than water based lube. Compatible with all condom materials
Hybrid - Oil-free. Can contain a mixture of ingredients including silicone, water, or aloe vera, etc.
Oil-based - I.E. coconut oil, lotions, vaseline. Oil-based lubes ARE compatible with Polyurethane and Lambskin condoms. Oil-based lubes are NOT compatible with latex or Polyisoprene condoms.
Lube ingredients to avoid
Glycerine is a sugar alcohol that can cause yeast infections. If you see "water-based" or "natural" on the label and don't see any other ingredients listed, it's likely that your lube has glycerin in it--so skip it! It's important to note that not all lubes contain this ingredient; it tends to be found more often in water-based lubricants than silicone-based ones.
2: Propylene glycol AKA Propanediol (Plant-based)
Propylene glycol is a common ingredient in many personal lubricants, including those labeled as "sensitive" or "all natural." It's also used in many other products--from skin creams to toothpaste. However, propylene glycol has been linked with irritation and allergic reactions. Polyoxyethylene (Synthetic) is also toxic and is referred to as the "cousin" of Propylene glycol.
Benzocaine is a numbing agent - most commonly used at the dentist's office! And it's one of the most common ingredients in lubes- specifically lubes that numb a specific area (so, anal numbing cream specifically). While it can be great for people with sensitive genitals (like women with vulvas), it can also cause severe irritation, pain, and burning for others. Aside from the physical skin reactions, we do not recommend benzocaine to numb your body, because any accidental tears may end up being worse in the long run.
Petroleum is found in common, everyday products like wax, gasoline, and kerosine. Petroleum oil can irritate the skin and cause allergic reactions in some people. Petroleum oil is also found in products like Vaseline and some hand lotions, so if you're worried about having an allergic reaction, check all your products before applying them to your skin!
5: Sodium Hydroxide
This is a base that's used to make soap, but it can irritate sensitive skin if it's left on for too long.
Other generally safe lube ingredients that get the green light
Synthetic Dimethicone or Vinyl Dimethicone (silicone polymer)
Plant-based and Synthetic Xanthan Gum
Synthetic Potassium Sorbate
Plant-based Citric Acid
Synthetic Sucralose / Sodium Saccharine
Plant or Animal-based Tocopheryl Acetate
Reading a lube label
An example of an informative, helpful lube label is La Nua water-based lube. They list the purpose of each ingredient next to the ingredient name. (Not to mention, their packaging - glass and bamboo - is sustainable!)
Their lubricant labels state:
“Ingredients: Water (Aqua), Chondrus Crispus (Red Algae) Extract, Natto Gum (Natural Moisturizer), Propanediol (Moisture Retainer), Macrocystis Pyrifera (Kelp) Extract, Citric Acid (PH Balancer), Hydroxyethylcellulose, Cellulose Gum, Potassium Sorbate (Antimicrobial), Sodium Benzoate (Antimicrobial), Natural Flavor.”
Thankfully, lube brands are being more thoughtful when it comes to mindful, body-safe ingredients. Back in the day, this was not always the case! Today, there is a lube for every scenario, mood, sensitivity, and personal preference. Make sure to brush up on these ingredients the next time you need to re-up your lube supply!