Consumerism is a curse! There’s nothing like choice paralysis, a phenomenon exemplified by the feeling of standing in the sexual health aisle of Pharmaprix and staring at the vast lube section: Water-based, silicone-based, massage oils, and more. Here, The McGill Tribune breaks down which ones are condom-compatible, safe for use with silicone sex toys, or best for stimulating sensation, regardless of your anatomy.
- Water-based lube
Water-based lube is at the top of this list and my personal favourite—for good reason. If you’ve ever purchased a sex toy, there’s a good chance it’s made of body-safe silicone. Ironically, the best lube for silicone toys is anything without silicone in it, as silicone lube will degrade the material over time. Water-based lube is also a fan favourite because it’s easier to clean up than other formulas, generally less sticky, and condom-compatible as well. Add a drop or two inside a condom to provide extra sensation for the wearer, slather it all over your favourite vibrator, or even use it for the purpose of old-fashioned manual masturbation.
- Silicone lube
I know I made water-based lube sound like the no-contest champion, but don’t be fooled. Silicone lube can’t be used with silicone toys, but it’s otherwise condom-compatible and plenty of fun. It’s generally thicker in consistency than water-based formulas, giving it a slicker sensation and increased staying power for longer play. And for those that love a true slip-and-slide experience? Silicone lube is your friend. Penetrative sex, particularly for those who’ve experienced painful penetration, can be much more pleasant with silicone lube. Its formula makes it last longer than water-based formulas, so those that enjoy drawing things out might find this the best choice.
- Massage oil lubes
Speaking of slip-and-slide, it’s high time to get acquainted with the world of massage oils! For those of us with tight shoulders, a massage oil session coupled with some fun partner intimacy can be incredibly relaxing and make for titillating foreplay. There are specific massage oil lubricants on the market, which I would recommend over any garden-variety massage oil as lube. Not all generic massage oils have been tested for internal use, so it’s best to stick to the products formulated for a sexual purpose. Oil-based formulas are not latex-safe, meaning they can’t be effectively used with latex condoms. But, if pregnancy and physical barriers aren’t of concern for you, massage oil lubes can be an exciting way to engage in new foreplay and indulge yourself or your partner(s).
- Warming (and cooling) lube
I was hesitant about the placement of temperature-play lube on this list because I have some beef with it. To its credit, this type of lube can be either water- or silicone-based, making warming or cooling lubricant a versatile bedfellow. The sensation of warmth draws blood flow to the genitals, enhancing the sensation of orgasm for some, and cooling lubes can be a great way for beginners to experiment with temperature play. I find the artificial heat a little disconcerting, not to mention reminiscent of the symptoms of a urinary-tract infection (if you know, you know). However, I won’t let my qualms dissuade you—to each their own.
- And remember: Coconut oil is not a lubricant
I hope that at this point in public sexual health knowledge this wouldn’t have to be a conversation, but there’s no shame in falling victim to Gwyneth Paltrow-esque, granola-girl gospel and erring in your lube choices. Coconut oil is good for hair masks, a dry skin balm, cooking and more, but it is not a sexual lubricant. It compromises latex condoms and dental dams and its high pH might disrupt your vaginal microbiome—not to mention it’s a pain in the ass to clean up.
I understand the desire to avoid putting chemical products with long ingredient lists in your body willy-nilly, but hopefully the list above makes you feel more confident in choosing the right water, oil, or silicone-based lube for you.