Wednesday, 19 Jun 2024

Discover the Comprehensive Guide to Selecting the Right Lubricant for Every Scenario

From water-based to oil-based options, we’ve consulted with experts in the field to provide detailed insights into their distinctions.

Navigating the realm of lubricants can undoubtedly be perplexing. Depending on your shopping destination, you might assume that your choices are limited, but that’s far from true. In reality, a vast array of lubricant types grace the market, boasting diverse ingredients, textures, flavors, and functions. Determining the optimal choice that aligns with your preferences and sensations can feel like a substantial undertaking. Recognizing this, we’ve dedicated an entire week to enhance your understanding of lubricants through our inaugural Lube Week. Here, we present a valuable guide curated with insights from established sexual health experts, aiding you in discerning the ideal lubricant for various situations.

In case you missed it, lubricants predominantly fall into three categories: water-based, silicone-based, and oil-based. While each of these categories offers unique attributes tailored to distinct sexual activities, they share a common advantage: the ability to significantly heighten sexual experiences. Even if you’re confident in your natural lubrication prowess, incorporating lubricant can elevate the experience exponentially.

Are you well-versed in the distinctions among various lubricant options?

Clinical sexologist Megwyn White, who serves as the Director of Education at Satisfyer, underscores the significance of lubricants, particularly for penetrative play. White explains, “Lubricants minimize friction between body parts like the penis, vagina, or anus during sexual activities. When used alongside a condom, lubricants can also reduce the risk of breakage or slippage, a scenario nobody desires.” Additionally, the application of lubricant can stimulate the body to produce heightened self-lubrication. Michaela d’Artois, a certified sex coach, sexologist, and the founder of Inner Eros, renowned for her e-book Your Orgasm Blueprint: The Comprehensive Guide to Discovering Your Sexual Potential and Achieving Ultimate Pleasure, emphasizes that this additional moisture enhances pleasurable sensations and fosters a greater sense of ease within the body.

For those who are attentive, the equation is simple: natural wetness after foreplay combined with the appropriate lubricant equals an enhanced, friction-free sexual encounter. The result? An experience so delightful that it encourages your body to generate even more natural lubrication. With that in mind, let’s dive into the details. Presenting the contrasts among the primary lubricant types and their suitability for diverse preferences, alongside a selection of our distinguished Lube Awards winners.

Water-Based Lubricant

As the name suggests, water-based lubricants such as System Jo Jo H2O and K-Y Jelly are water-soluble concoctions. Comprising water and additional ingredients such as cellulose ether or glycerin, they excel as all-purpose lubricants. An optimal choice for a wide range of scenarios, water-based lubes are not only condom-safe but also compatible with all types of toys. They boast easy cleanup, unlike their oil-based counterparts which can leave residues. However, they tend to dry out more rapidly compared to silicone or oil-based variants, necessitating occasional reapplication.

Furthermore, according to d’Artois, water-based lubes closely mimic natural wetness or saliva, making them an ideal starting point for those new to using lubricants.

When to use

  • Masturbation with or without toys
  • Sex with or without condoms


  • Highly versatile for solo endeavors. “It can be used with any and all sex toys, plus, it’s safe to use with pretty much any material on earth,” notes Danny Becker, certified sexologist at The Enhanced Male
  • Compatible with condoms without compromising their integrity.
  • Cost-effective, depending on the brand.


  • Incompatible with activities involving water, like shower, pool, or hot tub sex. “You can’t use water-based lube in water because it will wash it away,” cautions Becker.
  • Prone to quicker drying compared to alternatives. “Expect to reapply this for extended sessions,” advises Maryann Karinch, author of Mature Sexual Intimacy.
  • May become sticky during use. Pro tip: “Adding a few drops of water when the lube starts to thicken can restore its slickness,” suggests Carol Queen, resident sexologist at Good Vibrations.

Silicone-Based Lubricant

The good news with silicone lubricants is their absence of water, ensuring they won’t wash away readily. While their texture may differ slightly from natural lubrication, they offer prolonged efficacy, both in and out of intimate settings. Recognized for their superior slickness, they’re a favored choice for anal play or aquatic activities, as highlighted by White.

When to use

  • Engaging in shower sex or similar water-related activities
  • Anal intercourse
  • Sex with or without condoms
  • Instances of insufficient natural wetness


  • Exceptional durability, eliminating the need for frequent reapplication, as affirmed by Queen.
  • Fully waterproof, permitting enjoyment in the shower, bathtub, or other wet environments.
  • Remarkably slick, making them ideal for beginners exploring anal play.
  • Hypoallergenic nature minimizes the risk of allergic reactions for you and your partner, as stated by Karinch.
  • Versatile usage beyond intimacy, such as lubricating door hinges or enhancing the appearance of tattoos, as humorously mentioned by Becker.


  • Incompatible with silicone-based sex toys. “Avoid using silicone-based lube with soft, jelly-like, or silicone-made toys,” warns Becker. According to White, these lubes could cause deterioration in silicone products due to the interaction of silicone molecules.
  • When employed for solo play without toys, the lube’s thickness might necessitate hand washing afterward, notes Karinch.

Oil-Based Lubricant

Oil-based lubricants endure for extended durations and excel in activities like anal play, massages, and external stimulation due to their luxurious texture, as explained by White. Notably, they exhibit warmth upon contact with the body, making them suitable for temperature play. However, they lack compatibility with latex condoms (as they may weaken them) and most toys. Furthermore, d’Artois highlights the potential to disturb the sensitive vaginal ecosystem. It’s advisable to conduct a patch test before full utilization.

When to use

  • Masturbation (specifically for individuals with a penis)
  • Massage


  • For individuals with a penis, it offers a highly slick external barrier that persists until removal, as noted by Becker.
  • Exceptionally slick, according to Queen.
  • Promotes skin health.


  • Inappropriate for internal use, as oil cannot be absorbed by the body, warns Becker. Avoid oil-based lubes for those with vaginas.
  • Not suitable for sexual activities, as they degrade condoms, latex, and internal use, cautions Becker.
  • Not recommended for individuals with food allergies, as some formulations may contain nut oil, plant-based oils, or petroleum jelly.