Discovering lube as a grown-up is like discovering what your clit does as a kid. "Who," you think, "was the brilliant mind behind this idea? And why did I not know about this sooner? Why did I memorize the quadratic equation in high school, but not hear a word about this vastly more life-improving substance?" Below you will find an introduction to this lovely stuff.
Why use it?
Because without changing any other single thing that you do in your sex life, you will completely change the feel of most of the things you're already doing. Ever had a hard time coming because the friction of your hand on your clit left you less than excited? Ever been enjoying a marathon session only to be stopped short by irritation? Ever ended up with a raw penis after a vigorous jerk-off session? **Ever had a condom break?** Lube, lube, lube, lube.
But not every lube is ideal for every person or every situation. Each lube has a main ingredient, and each has pros and cons. Some lubes are better for anal penetration and some are better for jerking off. Some have chemicals that may be hard on sensitive skin, others are more natural.
What's the main ingredient?
The main ingredient of a lube, or its base, determines several things about how it will act in different situations.
Water-based lube is generally a safe bet if you are unsure what types of toys or safer sex barriers you'll be using; water-based lubes go with everything! Water-based lubes feel wet and slippery and are the closest in feel to vaginal lubrication produced by our bodies. They can be different viscosities, from thin and watery to thick and gel-like, and generally the thicker the lube the more cushion it provides. The downside of water-based products is that water evaporates and is absorbed by our bodies, so they tend to dry up more quickly than other types of lube. However many find the trade-off of easy clean up and compatibility to be worth it.
None of the water-based lubes we carry contain glycerine, which is a common ingredient in drugstore and condom-brand lubes. Glycerine can cause irritation or yeast overgrowth for some folks, so we try to avoid it. We also look for lubes that are pH balanced for vaginal and anal use, which means they are slightly acidic.
Water-based lubes come in a wide variety of viscosity and sensations, anywhere from creamy to oily. You can also get flavoured water based lubes if you're looking for something a little different.
Some of our faves: Slippery Stuff, Sliquid H2O, Sutil Luxe
Silicone-based lubes last forever and a day. It feels less wet than water-based lube - which makes sense because silicone lubes don't contain any water - and it's quite concentrated so you generally use less of it. Silicone is not water-soluble so can it be used in the shower or tub (caution, SLIPPERY), but this also means it doesn't wash up easily and can stain sheets or clothing. Silicone is scentless and tasteless, and great to massage with, since they let you rub a good long time. There's no problem in using them with latex, in fact most condoms are lubricated with silicone, so you can go right from massage to safer sex. And silicone is brilliant for butt stuff because it's not absorbed by our bodies. The biggest drawback is that you can't use silicone lube with silicone toys; the other downside is that they last forever and a day, which means you might stay slippery longer than you need to, and clean up can take a bit more effort.
Some of our faves: Uberlube, FuckWater, Sliquid Silver
Hybrid lubes are water-based and water-soluble, with a little silicone added in to make them extra slippery! Because the amount of silicone is so small, they're still safe with silicone toys, and they're much friendlier to vaginas than fully silicone-based lubes. We also love hybrid lube for butt stuff because it offers lots of slip and slide, and staying power. Hybrid lubes have a creamy pillowy feel, and an opaque, cloudy look (ok, they look like cum, which can be a visual turn-on or great with ejaculating toys).
Some of our faves: Fuckwater, Sliquid Silk
Some of our faves: Boy Butter, Wild Thing
Once you've decided on what the base of your lube will be, the next step is to pick what kind of viscosity you're looking for. Lubes range from incredibly thick (e.g. Sutil Rich) to super thin (e.g. Sliquid H2O); one isn't inherently better than the other. Thicker lubes tend to stay put a lot better than thinner lubes, which makes them a better candidate for anal play, fisting, or any kind of slow penetration.
This is another caution for folks with vaginas: if you're particularly prone to yeast infections, avoid any lube with glycerine listed as an ingredient. Yeast loves glycerine, and will multiply happily in its presence. None of the lubes we carry contain glycerine, but almost anything you can get at the drugstore does. An aside to vegans: unless the ingredients list specifies vegetable glycerine, it's probably from an animal source.
There are a few other things to watch out for. For example, methelparaben is used as a preservative in many lubes, and those with sensitive skin should avoid it. Look instead for grapefruit seed extract or citric acid. Some of our lubes only have a few ingredients in them, but most have a very long list, so look carefully and check to see if it contains something to which you know you're sensitive.
If you're a little overwhelmed by all the choices, and don't know whether you'd like thick, thin, oily, slick or creamy, get a bunch of travel sizes ($1-2), and have a personal lubefest.