The lube lowdown: Your guide to all things lube 0 1671

Lube Lowdown

Tips, tricks, and considerations when using and purchasing personal lubricant

What you probably remember from your high school sex ed class is a poor demo of your gym teacher (why were they the ones to teach sex ed?!) rolling a condom onto a banana. What you most likely didn’t learn? Lube is your best friend in the sheets. 

Let’s debunk a few myths around lube before we slide into a comprehensive guide. The first myth around lube is that you need to have a partner to use it. Nope! Using lube can enhance any masturbation practice, in the bath, in the shower, or your bed.

The second myth around lube is that people only reach for the bottle when something is wrong or malfunctioning in their sex life. Again, also false. Lube can make sex feel wetter, leading to increased sensation and less friction. Hooray!

You can use lube regardless of age or gender; it works with all bits, vulva, clitoris, vagina, penis, scrotum, and bums! There’s no one sex activity to use lube with; it can benefit anything you choose to do. 

Massaging with lube can aid in blood flow and stimulate the genitals. Lube also helps with arousal non-concordance, which is essentially when your genitals are not corresponding with how turned on you are. This could mean that you’re mentally ready for sex but don’t have an erection or aren’t wet enough. If you struggle with arousal non-concordance, know that it’s way more common than you think, and lube is here to help.

Here’s a tried and true guide on all things lube: when to use it, how to use it, and what sorts of ingredients to watch out for. 

First thing’s first. Let’s get acquainted with the different kinds.

Know thy lube

There are three main types of personal lubricant to choose from oil-based, silicone, and water-based. Which kind you choose is entirely up to you, but here are some key points to keep in mind before you buy a bottle or ten (we won’t judge.)


Oil-based lubes stick around a while, and the best adjective to describe them is, well, oily. 

  • Don’t use oil-based lubes with latex condoms or latex barriers because oil weakens latex leading to increased chances of tears. Yep, this includes coconut oil. 
  • Because oil-based lubes stick around a while, if you or your boo is prone to yeast infections and UTIs, steer clear of oil-based lubricants. 
  • Just like how a dash of olive oil can stain your clothes forever, oil-based lube can stain your sheets! Consider putting a towel down to avoid staining. 


Because it’s long-lasting, silicone-based lube is an excellent choice for friction-filled sex activities or anal sex. Silicone-based lubes are also great for water sex and masturbation.

  • Don’t use silicone-based lubes with silicone sex toys; this pairing can cause silicone sex toys to degrade over time. 
  • Because silicone-based lube is long-lasting, it may increase susceptibility to yeast infections, bacterial vaginosis, and UTIs. 
  • Silicone-based lubes are totally safe to use with latex. 


Water-based lube is typically the gentlest choice as far as lubricants go. It does dry fairly quickly, so if you’re planning an all-day sex marathon, it’s best to reapply frequently. 

  • Water-based lube can be used with latex and any type of sex toy
  • Because anal sex requires lots of lube (as the anus is not self-lubricating), reapply frequently or use a longer-lasting lube.
  • Water-based lubes wash off easily, which is great for your high thread count sheets and people prone to yeast infections. 

Pro tip: if you’re on the fence about which type of lube to use, many sex stores offer sample packets. You can also try lubes out on the top of your hand to test for texture, stickiness, or slipperiness.

The best of both lubes (and other tips)

Secret’s out—you can mix and match lubes. Keep in mind all the qualities we talked about and which activities you’re planning to do when mixing and matching. For example, you might add a few drops of silicone lube to water-based lube to make it last longer. 

Hot tip? Apply a few drops of lube on the inside of a condom to heat up the sensation. You can also warm up the lube in your hands before applying it to the genitals. 

Air on the side of caution (or just don’t) with numbing lubes because you should always be able to feel your genitals during sex to tell if there’s pain! Pain is your body’s way of letting you know that something is wrong.

Also, beware of sugar in flavored lubes. Sugar can wreak havoc on vaginal pH, so it’s best to steer clear of flavored lubes for vaginal intercourse or masturbation with a vulva. Flavored lubes work best as a delicious way to lick off your partner’s body.

A list of things you can use lube for

Lube can be used to amplify any sexual encounter. You might explore lube in any of the following ways. 

  • Use oil-based lube for a sensual full-body massage
  • Apply lube before tribbing or scissoring any body part
  • Use lube for any type of vaginal dryness; it works wonders for perimenopausal folks
  • Use lube to enhance safe sex because it reduces friction leading to micro-tears, which increases susceptibility to STIs. 
  • Lube can make sex toys feel more human and less like a foreign material
  • Use lube on your menstrual cup to aid in insertion
  • Take handjobs to another level with lube
  • Use lube for foreplay
  • Use lube for sensual nipple play
  • Use lube to stimulate the perineum, the space between the scrotum and anus (it’s a lesser-explored major erogenous zone!)

The creative possibilities are endless. How you use lube is truly up to you! Consider any concerns you might have (like being prone to vaginal infections, staining, or a particular sex activity like anal) when making your choice, and you’re good to go. Now you’re a lube aficionado! 

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