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Personal Lubricants 101 - How to Pick a Great Personal Lubricant

Posted by Shannon Marshall on

How to choose a great personal lubricant

We all know the cliche that everything's better when wet ~ a good customer once put it perfectly, 'tell a man to go down a water slide without water, and he'll understand why foreplay is important!' Well said my friend. Well said. Unfortunately sometimes even oodles of foreplay won't get the floodgates to open and have us reaching into our nightstand for a little assistance.

Now, there are 100 different reasons why you might want or need personal lubricant, from breast feeding, allergy pills, cancer treatment, stress, or the simple fact that you may not drink enough water!  And there well over 100 different brands and options to choose from.

  • Heated
  • Flavored
  • Heated & Flavored
  • His & Hers
  • Water based
  • Silicone based
  • Oil based
  • Numbing
  • Sensitizing
  • Fire & Ice
  • Hybrids
  • Organics

Ack! Confused yet? How do you choose? Keep reading and we'll teach you how to find lubes that you'll love ~ ones that aren't sticky, syrupy, or cause an itchy or burning feeling.  We say a good lube should have easy to understand ingredients, be slippery, long lasting, and never ever feel sticky as it dries up.

So here's a breakdown of the do's and don'ts of lube shopping. Sadly all lubes are not created equal, and just like food packaging - what you see on the front label or TV commercial is not always what you get. We're all well aware of sneaky marketing ploys and know that we should always READ THE LABEL, even if the term Fat Free is blaring across the package. Apply this rule of thumb to your lube shopping from now on and you'll be a lot happier with your purchases. Look for lubes that are naturally derived, the key is to be able to understand and pronounce the ingredients

The first step to scoring a great lube is to stop buying it at your nearest drugstore! We've spent some time perusing the shelves in the pharmacy sections of department stores and drug stores , boldly reading all the labels on every personal lubricant for sale. (Much to my husband's embarrassment. I'm not sure if he was embarrassed by the length of time I spent in there, or the muttering about it being convenient that the Canesten was sharing shelf space, so everyone would know where to find it after using any of that lube. Needless to say, I'm no longer allowed in the lube aisle when we go to the super market together!) You want good shampoo, you buy it at your salon or beauty supply store. You want good lube, you buy it at a sex shop. Now here's the kicker ~ not all sex shops are created equally either! So again, read the labels and don't base your purchase on price alone. Many times the more expensive lube on the shelf is actually of the poorest quality.

The second step is figuring out what you actually want your lube for. Think of it as having the right tool for the job. You're not going to put foot lotion on your face right? You have face lotion and foot lotion, two totally different things, even though they're both lotions. Lubes are the same way. Different ones are for different things.

The ingredients that are in your lubes are going to cause different things to happen when added to your vagina. There is a finely balanced flora and fauna of bacteria down there so you must always be cautious that you aren't going to dump a product on your bits & pieces that have a bunch of funky chemicals in it. Remember, if you can't pronounce it, you don't want it.

So, let's say you're looking for a basic 'everyday' lube ~ something that's safe for all sexual activity, condom, and toy use. A naturally derived water based lubricant like Sliquid H2O is the way to go. These are designed to emulate your body's own natural lubrication and the main ingredient in them should be purified water. Now just like what you produce, it will dry up...eventually. When it dries up it should not leave behind any residue, sticky feeling, or anything else. It should feel completely and totally invisible. If it doesn't and you can't wait to have a wash, chances are your current lube has glycerine in it.  It's essentially a sugar/alcohol.  We consistently say, sugar and vaginas don't get along, you should never mix the two!  Anyone that's a baker, knows the first step to activate yeast is to add warm water and sugar and Ta-Da!  It's starts to grow.  Put sugar based product in a warm moist environment (vagina!) you're going to get bacteria growth, and not the good kind. So it's super important to buy glycerine free lubes.

If you have found that water based lubes dry up too fast and you want a lube that stays slicker even longer, you may want to try Sliquid Sassy or Intimate Organics Hydra.  These water based lubes are thicker and have a gel like texture to them.  They stay wetter longer, and have the added benefit of being recommended for anal play while still being safe for all toy and condom materials.

For the ultimate long lasting, super slippery lube nothing beats silicone based lubricants.  These lubricants are incredible for any skin to skin contact and safe for condom use (though not recommended for use with silicone sex toys).  Silicone lubes play double duty in the bedroom.  They make for an incredible massage oil, and they just don't quit when applied to any intimate areas.  Recommended as a great anal lube, for massages that have happy endings, world class hand jobs, and for those lucky people that have hot tubs or big sexy showers.  Silicone lubes are waterproof and won't wash away during water play!  

Just like their water based cousins, silicone lubes come in different varieties.  Thick ones, thin ones, and even scented ones.  Our favorite silicone lube is Sliquid Silver with Jo Warming All in One being a close runner up.

Finding your perfect lube is just like finding any other great health and beauty product.  I can't tell you how many mascara brands I've gone through or how many shaving creams I've tried!  We often recommend the Sliquid Lube Cube - a sampler pack of different water based, silicone, and flavored lubes to try.  

Stay tuned for our advice on flavored lubes and oral gels next month!