September 24, 2019

What Is The Best Lube?

What lube should you buy? There are sex lubes for all budgets, activities, and sensitivities. Water, silicone, or oil-based? Find the best lube for you!
Written by
Anna Laird-Barto
Published on
September 24, 2019
Updated on
What's changed?
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The right kind of lube can make any kind of sex more enjoyable, whether you’re playing alone or with others. But how do you choose the right one for you?

Is Using Lube Ok?

Using lube doesn’t mean you’re inadequate or not attracted to your partner. It’s totally normal for the amount of personal lubricant you produce— how wet you are — to vary due to hormonal changes, dehydration, and other factors. And no matter how wet you are, the right lube can prevent chafing, intensify erotic sensation, and make condoms and sex toys safer and more effective.

No matter which lube you love the most, you’ll be glad that you tried them all. There’s no wrong way to lube.

Types Of Sex Lube

While the cheapest lubes can feel tacky and contain toxic or irritating ingredients, there are many excellent lubes available for under $20. Most of the lubes on the market fall into three main categories — water-based, silicone-based, and oil-based. A few hybrid (water-silicone) and aloe-based lubes are also available.

How To Choose A Lube

Choosing a lube has a lot to do with the texture and feel you prefer, and how sensitive your skin is. Also consider what kind of sex you’ll be having (anal, vaginal, etc), where you’ll be having sex (in the pool, on top of your expensive satin sheets), and whether or not you’ll be using toys, condoms, or other barrier methods.

Water-based Lube

Water-based lube is easy to wash off sheets, toys, and you! It needs to be reapplied frequently — perfect for quickies, not so great for all-night sex marathons, and forget about bath/shower sex! Water-based lube will immediately dissolve back into its source.

Choosing a lube has a lot to do with the texture and feel you prefer, and how sensitive your skin is.

Water-based lubes can help condoms feel more natural and comfortable, and they reduce the chance of breakage. This goes for latex and non-latex condoms.

Avoid products with ingredients like glycerin, paraben and propylene glycol, especially if you’re planning on having vaginal sex. They can cause irritation, yeast infections and kill off healthy bacteria. Instead, choose a hypoallergenic, ph-balanced lube like Sliquid Satin.


  • Easy to wash off
  • Works great with condoms
  • Natural feel
  • Wide range
  • Affordable price
  • Easy to find at the store
  • Can be used with toys


  • Need to reapply frequently
  • Can’t be used in the shower or bath
  • Some water-based lube has ingredients that can be irritating or cause yeast infections

Silicone-based Lubes

Looking for an extra slippery lube that will withstand some hardcore action? Silicone-based lube is the way to go, especially for anal and water play.

Unlike the molecules in water, silicone molecules are too big to be absorbed into the skin. A high quality silicone lube, like Swiss Navy or Please Silicone Lubricant, lasts as long as you can and feels like silk against your skin. In fact, Silicone-based lubricants are highly recommended for people with sensitive skin.

Silicone-based lubricants are highly recommended for people with sensitive skin.

Silicone-based lubes are safe to use with condoms — hurrah! — and toys made from steel or glass. But you don’t want to get it on your silicone toys. Silicone-based lubes actually damage the surface of silicone toys, creating micro-abrasions where bacteria can hide.


  • Long lasting
  • Don’t need to use much
  • Great for anal sex
  • Can be used in the shower or bath
  • Good for sensitive skin
  • Safe with condoms


  • Will damage some silicone toys
  • So long lasting that it’s hard to wash off!
  • More expensive
  • Can stain sheets

Oil-based Lubes

Oil-based lubes seem to last forever. Unfortunately, that doesn’t just go for sex. They will also stay glued to your clothes, your sheets, and toys! Natural, plant-based oils like coconut, almond, and argan provide long-lasting lubrication while conditioning the skin and soothing sore muscles —ideal for erotic massage!

Treat yourself to luxurious, scented oils like Sensuous Beauty Love Balm, or pick up a jar of coconut or olive oil from the grocery store (just make sure you don’t put it back in the kitchen cabinet when you’re done!)

The downfall of oil-based lubes is that they destroy latex fast, upping your chances of pregnancy or contracting an STI, so they can’t be used with condoms. The same goes for latex diaphragms and toys.


  • Long lasting
  • Soothing and moisturizing for the skin
  • Easily available
  • Natural ingredients
  • Pleasant taste
  • Great for massage


  • Can’t be used with condoms or anything else made of latex
  • Can be hard to wash off
  • May stain sheets
The downfall of oil-based lubes is that they destroy latex… so they can’t be used with condoms.

By now you might be excited to try them all. Luckily, most lubes are available in affordable “pillow packs,” so you can experiment with different textures, scents, and flavors without making a long-term commitment.

Reviewed for Medical Accuracy

Anna Laird Barto is a writer and human services professional based in western Massachusetts. Her work has appeared in online in The Establishment, Entropy, What We Seee and elsewhere. Visit her at and @annalairdbarto

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