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Lube 101

Everything you need to know about lube (but were afraid to ask)
2 Min Read
Lube 101

A well-stocked bedside drawer can be key when things are getting hot and heavy — and if yours doesn’t yet include lube, it’s worth thinking about stocking up.

Lubricants work to reduce friction and irritation, and can be your best friend in the heat of the moment. There’s no shame in needing a little help to feel comfortable, and there are plenty of lubes on the market that want to help you get there. Depending on the feature and use, you might experience an increase in sexual arousal, as well as both frequency and duration of your sexual activities.

There are three basic types of lube to consider adding to your arsenal: water-based, silicone, and oil.



Pros: Water-based lube mimics your natural wetness and doesn't need to be cleaned if it gets on other items. It can be particularly great to use with sex toys, as there is no risk of degrading the toy.

Cons: It usually requires more application than silicone- or oil-based lubes.



Pros: Silicone-based lube is thicker than water-based lube and requires less application. It is particularly good for anal and water sex.

Cons: Silicone-based lube can leave residue and must be washed off if it gets on clothing or sheets. Be sure to keep it away from any silicone sex toys, too — silicone on silicone will degrade the toy.



Pros: Oil-based lubricants are long-lasting and nondrying. Keep an eye out for oil-based massage candles, which serve as both mood-setters and lubricants. (Only dip your fingers into candles after you’ve extinguished the flame!)

Cons: Oil-based lube can’t be used with condoms or latex clothing, because it will cause them to degrade. It also has the potential to increase chances of a urinary tract infection, especially if you’re prone to them.

Other Variations

There is a ‘fourth type’ known as hybrid lubricants which is essentially a combination of silicone and water ingredients. There are also versions of these lubricants with specialized features, such as a change in temperature or a “tingling” sensation that might heighten you or your partner’s stimulation. They typically work to increase blood flow to the genitals.

Before you pick up that specialized lube, read the fine print: Experts often urge people to stay away from lubes with any additional bells and whistles because they usually contain ingredients that can be unsafe for your genital area.


Be sure to always read the ingredient list before you buy a new lube — you know your body best, so keep an eye out for any potential allergens. Specific ingredients to watch out for include:

1. Glycerin, which can cause yeast infections and skin irritation,

2. Parabens, which affect the endocrine system and can negatively alter your hormones.

For more information on ingredients to avoid when choosing the right lube, click here.


  1. The Sex Issue: Everything You've Always Wanted to Know about Sexuality, Seduction, and Desire. Grand Central Life & Style, 2018.