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The Wonderful World of Water-Based Lubes Is On Your Fingertips (I Mean “At”).
When I was a kid, my friends and I used to tear open the spent concession stand soda cups and use the wax lining to slicken slide’s surface. Even as innocent children we knew the value of a good lube job. Without enough lubrication, our asses would stick to the metal that had been baking in the hot sun. With plenty of wax applied, however, we knew that we would zip down the slide at the speed of light – our thrill and pleasure heightened and our time at the park and away from our chores extended. Little geniuses we were, on our way to becoming big perverts.
Fast-forward a few decades and the importance of proper lubrication is even more appreciated. It’s just that the slides we now play on look more like penises than playground equipment. Still, the crucial nature of a great lubricant during sex cannot be overstated, especially when sex toys are brought to the table. Nobody, and I mean nobody, likes the rash and irritation that comes from a dry, friction-filled sexual experience (just like my buddies and I didn’t like the missing skin from our asses). If necessity is the mother of invention, then lube is a testament to mankind’s collective intelligence and perversion.
My mother used to say that a dry pussy and a wet purse don’t mix. In other words, spending money on a good lube is a great idea. Whether male, female or somewhere in between, lubrication can make a world of difference in the bedroom. And I would know. Not only was I the kid who invented the cup-wax-slide thing, but I also attempted dry sex a time or two and I’m here to tell you one thing: You’ll be sorry if you choose to be as stupid as I was. Modern-day lubricants may range in price but they’re all very affordable. Even the top-name brand offer high-end lubes that cost little to nothing (at least when compared to the price of your sex life).
To find the best lubricant on the current market, it’s necessary for you (and/or your partner) to take a few things into consideration. Here are the top #:
- What is you/your partner’s skin type?
- Do you have an product/chemical sensitivities or allergies?
- How much sex do you typically have in any given month?
- Do you use sex toys of any kind?
- How much money do you have to spend on your supply of lubrication?
Now, I’ll tell you why each of those things is important. First of all, the type of skin that you and/or your partner are dressed in will serve as a large determining factor in the kind of lube you like. If you have dry or itchy skin, certain lubrication bases will react and behave differently than advertised. Furthermore, your skin type will also affect how any given lubricant feels during sex. Pick the wrong kind and you’ll be up Schitt’s Creek without a paddle.
Secondly, any skin sensitivities and/or allergies need to be considered because not all lubricants are made the same. Today’s sex supply industry is full of options, many of which contain ingredients and chemicals that may cause an allergic reaction for some. As a general rule, stay away from scented or warming lubes unless you know how your body will respond. Going to the emergency room for a weird shaped rash all over your crotch is not a good time, nor is it less expensive than a bottle of decent lubrication.
On the other hand, the amount of money you spend on your lube stash is subjective to the type of sex life you enjoy. If you have sex quite often or use sex toys a lot, it’s probably a good idea to buy a larger container to save time. I don’t know how many times I’ve ran out of lube in the middle of making love and thought to myself, “That extra-large bottle was only $3 more.” Have I mentioned I’m an idiot when it comes to money? My shopping stupidity has cost me a lot, so now I’m passing the savings on to you.
Speaking of unnecessary costs: You’ll ruin those amazing (and expensive) sex toys of your if you don’t use the right kind of lube on them. Many self-pleasure devices are made from luxurious materials, and most of those materials require special treatment to keep them intact. So, while the toy itself may be easy to clean and maintain, none of your diligence will show if that lube you used eats a hole in the side of it. Do not learn this the hard way, ladies and gents.
If all else fails you can always reach for a bottle/packet of water-based lube. Seen as the Cadillac of lubricants, this option is not only toy-friendly and skin-friendly but it’s also less expensive than the oil-based and silicone-based varieties (usually). Of course, there’s always an exception to the rule. For the most part, however, water-based lubes will get you there and back without causing any unwanted drama.
Why Water-Based Lube Though?
Aside from simply being an all-around great product, water-based lubricants are generally made from ingredients that are naturally healthy and helpful to human skin. Typically void of potentially harmful chemicals, this type of lube is usually always hypoallergenic and therefore works well with all skin types. And if that wasn’t enough, there are only a handful of sex toys on the market today that use something other than a water-based lube. In fact, most sex toy manufacturers highly recommend using water-based lube with their products, and some even send over a sample with your purchase. It’s not quiet a market monopoly, but it’s damn close.
The not-so-surprising popularity of water-based lube is probably due to the fact that it’s generally seen as the safest and most effective lubricant option available. In case you didn’t know this already, there are three main types of lube you can choose from: Oil-based, silicone-based, and of course our favorite, water-based. Let’s briefly explore the properties of each below:
All this talk about water-based lube and you’d think I was the spokesperson. Don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of good things about oil-based lube too. For one, it’s extremely long-lasting and is often made from plant-based or organic ingredients (even sometimes essential oils). With oil-based lubes, a little goes quite a long way, making it ideal for sensual massage and hand jobs. However, it’s probably not a good product for every occasion and here’s why.
Not only is oil-based lube nearly impossible to wipe or wash off without lots of soap and water, but it can also stain your sheets and clothing. It’s also not always hypoallergenic nor is it compatible with many sex toys. Oil-based lubes quickly break down latex too, meaning you can’t/shouldn’t use them with latex condoms or diaphragms . In lab tests, a well-known oil-based lube tore through the skin of a sex toy in less than 60 seconds. Just thought you should know that.
As for silicone-based lubes, there are several pros and cons as well. I’m a fan of this stuff for various reasons, such as the fact that it never dries up and is great for anal sex. It’s completely hypoallergenic too, which means it won’t irritate your skin or cause an allergic reaction. It doesn’t react to water either, making it ideal for tub or shower parties and giving it a much-needed versatile quality that I know we can all appreciate.
On the other hand, that non-reactive attitude it has towards water makes silicone-based lube almost impossible to wash off (or out) – not a good thing for the receiver during sex. On top of that, there’s always the fact that silicone-based lubes cannot be used with silicone-based sex toys. And considering that most of today’s best toys are made from skin-safe silicone, silicone-based lubes are virtually out of the question for everything except butt-lovin’.
So, here we are, back at square one with water-based lubes. These bad boys can do almost everything the other types of lube can do, only they don’t stain clothes and sheets, they don’t eat away at latex, they’re easy to wash off, and they can be used with nearly every sex toy on the market. So, while the others certainly have their merits, it’s probably the best idea to go ahead and select a good water-based lube just to keep in your stash for a rainy day. Or, you could be like me and own a truckload of all three.
The Top 5 Ways to Tell If That Water-Based Lube Is Worth It or Not
Using lube during sex is completely normal, but searching the market without a clue is something a madman does. There’s no shame in vetting the best products. In fact, more people use lube than you probably think. According to a 2014 study conducted at Indiana University (my alma mater, by the way), more than 65% of women reported using some kind of personal lubricant at least once in their lives. I’m relatively certain the other 35% are liars.
Truthful participants in that study eventually opened up about their reasons for using lube too, which further convinced me that every single person on planet Earth has used lube at some point. Among the top reasons were the following five:
- It made sex more comfortable.
- It helped make sexual encounters more fun.
- It reduced pain during certain activities, especially anal sex and sex with toys.
- It temporarily aided with vaginal dryness.
- It heightened sensations.
As you can see, lube s going to have a place in the bedroom until the end of time. In my opinion, it’s impossible to have decent sex without it. However, enjoying all those benefits is only possible if you choose the right one. And since we can all agree that (for the most part) water-based lubes are the best, we’ll talk about them only. Unfortunately, that doesn’t make your job of choosing the right one any easier. The sex supply guys have not been shy about producing plenty of variety. You’re going to need the following buyer’s guide to make it through this maze.
Here are the top 5 things you should look at or consider when searching for the perfect water-based lube:
If you’re curious about what’s in that little bottle of water-based lube you’re considering, you’re not the only one. There’s actually a lot of debate on the subject, with many people now asking lube manufacturers some questions that make them uncomfortable. The takeaway: even some otherwise gentle water-based lubes have ingredients that may not agree with your body.
The controversy surrounding modern-day lube recipes centers around concerns that certain chemicals could cause skin irritation, allergic reactions, or even damaging health effects. Of course, there’s always that person who can use anything as lube and walk away unscathed. I don’t suggest you try being a hero today.
Because I care about my readers’ wellbeing, I’ve compiled a list of the six lube ingredients you should avoid at all costs:
- Glycerin (a humectant used to retain moisture that could contribute to the development of yeast infections)
- Nonoxynol-9 (a spermicidal chemical that kills good and bad bacteria)
- Petroleum (a sticky, oily substance that can lead to a sexy case of bacterial vaginosis)
- Propylene Glycol (a humectant and preservative that’s one of the main ingredients in antifreeze)
- Parabens (a group of chemical preservatives that have been linked to certain types of cancer)
- Chlorhexidine Gluconate (a strong antibacterial that could cause skin irritation)
Luckily, the chemistry experiment is finally coming to an end. Contemporary sex toy and lubrication manufacturers have finally realized that certain ingredients should be left out of the recipe, regardless of how it affects production costs or profit. Your job is to continue refusing products with these ingredients, starting with that water-based lube in your shopping cart.
While you’re there debating the quality of that lube, be sure to take a moment and consider its quantity as well. This is an especially important attribute if you’re on a budget or plan to speed through your lube supply quickly. The size of all bottles/containers of water-based lube are different, and even some manufacturers offer various sizes of the same product. This is why I told you to think about your lifestyle and budget earlier. If you buy in bulk you could save a lot of money in the long run, but if you don’t reach for lube very often then a large bottle will probably leak or expire before you use it all. Keep it real and keep some of your cash, it’s as simple as that.
The way in which that lube comes out of its bottle will matter a lot more than you realize, especially in the heat of the moment. So, while pumps are handy in certain circumstances, you might have better luck with a pop-top or screw-off cap. Each one has pros and cons: pumps are good for quick applications but can be triggered to spill easily, pop-tops keep the contents inside better but can still spill, and screw-off caps are more secure but are almost impossible to maneuver during sex with lube on your hands. My suggestion: Buy a water-based lube that fits the bill in all other areas and then transfer the contents of the bottle into something easier to use. Problem solved.
Regardless of the type of dispenser your lube comes with, the bottle in which its contained will also play a significant role in how easy the lube is to use and store. Huge bottles may be good for avid users, but they’re difficult to hide and even harder to lift with one hand. Small bottles are hard to keep track of, fat bottles can’t be gripped easily, and skinny bottles are impossible to squeeze. Do yourself a favor and at least peek at the bottle that lube comes in. How well will you and/or your partner be able to handle it? Do you need to transfer the ingredients for that reason too? This is your world; play by your own rules.
Yes, even water-based lubes come with bonus features. Look for things like integrated natural flavors, heating or cooling abilities and pleasant scents. Although you may not be able to find all three features in a single lube, there’s no rule saying you can’t buy more than one.
The Three Kings: My Favorite Water-Based Lubes
Sifting through all those options is hard, I know. I’ve done it for you. And this is what I’ve determined to be the top three water-based lubes money can buy:
BEST OVERALL: Swiss Navy
I first discovered Swiss Navy water-based lube after asking readers to suggest their favorite brands to me. This stuff has been a top seller for several years, so I can see why so many people recommended it. Swiss Navy is without harmful chemicals, sans nasty odor and goes on smooth for a silky, long-lasting finish. In fact, it outperforms most water-based lubes on the market and remains in my bedside table to this day. The bottle isn’t too large to be stowed away easily, yet it’s big enough to suffice for several sexual encounters. Overall, it’s the best water-based lube you can buy, whether engaging in natural sex, anal sex or sex with a toy.
PRO: It executes a terrific balance between quality and quantity.
CON: Swiss Navy is only available in a pump-style bottle.
LONGEST LASTING: Elbow Grease H2O
This thick and luxurious gel lube is both water-based and wonderful, especially if you frequently use sex toys or engage in extra-long sessions. This long-lasting lubricant is heavy-duty and high-performance, with the longevity and endurance to match you, your partner, and every sex toy in your collection. Uncommon for a water-based lube to have such staying power, Elbow Grease H20 is an ideal substitution for oil-based and/or silicone-based lube lovers. Great for anal and compatible with condoms, diaphragms, and aggressive masturbation. The pump-style bottle is a decent size too; and because of its general thickness, a little goes a long way with one use.
PRO: It’s smooth, slick and thick, just how I like my men.
CON: This stuff isn’t as easy to spread out/apply as what you might be used to.
BEST EXTRA FEATURES: Climax Bursts Tingling
For those looking for more of a kick in the pants out of their chosen water-based lubrication, Climax Bursts Tingling lube may soon become your new best friend. The star of the show: Bursting beads that add a slight tingling sensation to the mix. Best of all, this stuff comes solo or as part of an interesting three-pack that includes other “sensational” lube varieties, such as warming and cooling. The bottle features a unique safety cap that’s designed for easy applications, it’s relatively long-lasting and it smells good too. Not bad for such an affordable lube that’s compatible with almost every sex toy or body orifice on the planet.
PRO: Its tingling is a pleasant feeling for everyone involved, since some folks don’t like temperature play.
CON: The otherwise adorable bottle could be just a little bit bigger.
The End Game
Choosing a good water-based lube can be a pain in the ass, but it doesn’t hurt nearly as bad as taking it in the ass without a good lube. You see how this works? And since water-based lubes are by far the most body-friendly, versatile products to hit the sex supply market thus far, it makes sense to own at least one bottle before you die. After all, more than half the population already admits to using lube in some capacity, and 20% of those people claimed to have used lube in the last thirty days. Apparently, the industry knows we need this stuff. They keep churning out new versions of the same products, making it difficult for people like you and me to make any headway. Now is the time to start refusing crappy lubes. Power to the People.