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Sometimes, people hear the word “silicone” and have an immediate negative reaction. A person might think, “Silicone? That sure doesn’t sound natural! Should I really put that in my body? Is it safe? Will I have an allergic reaction?”

Here’s the thing -- silicone itself is actually hypoallergenic, and most high-quality silicone lubricants contain five or fewer ingredients, so they can be awesome for people with allergies and/or sensitive skin. Silicone is condom-compatible, tasteless, and odorless. Some research indicates that high quality silicone-based lubricants do not increase your chances of contracting an STI while the additives in some common drugstore lubricants might. Silicone lubes don’t evaporate or “dry up” like water-based lubes do, which can make them safer in a number of ways. Silicone lube is not soluble in water, either. So, for steamy shower sex sessions or a hot tub romp, silicone lube could be a great option.

The risk of damage to cells and mucous membranes is lower with silicone based lubricant since it doesn’t evaporate. For this reason, we recommend silicone lube as a reliable option for anal sex. Again, however, we will stress that lube is better than no lube.

Some people adore the ultra-slippery nature of silicone-based lube, and some people find it feels “gross” and difficult to wash off. To each their own, right? The bottom line, though, is that you won’t know till you try.

While we do recommend silicone lube for anal play, some folks don’t prefer it for that purpose. For some, the thinness of silicone-based lube might not be ideal for anal penetration. If this tends to be your experience, you could try combining a silicone lube in tandem with a more cushiony water-based one. You could also try a hybrid lube, or a thick water-based lube specifically manufactured for anal sex, like Sliquid Sassy.

As far as recommendations go, you really can’t do better than Uberlube for silicone-based lubes. Uberlube is a very high-quality hypoallergenic silicone lube that contains only five ingredients. A little goes a very long way; honestly, just a tiny drop of Uberlube will gets you pretty dang far. It comes in a lovely glass bottle with a convenient pump. For some folks, though, it might almost be too slippery. (Seriously, y’all, the stuff is intense.) The silicone formulas from Pink and Gun Oil are body-safe, and can be purchased at most drugstores. (They are the exact same product, by the way, just with different marketing.) One: Move’s silicone formula is also at many drugstores these days. We also recommend Grizzly’s silicone formula, WET Platinum, and Wicked Ultra.

Some words of caution with silicone lubes: If you’re using silicone lube with a silicone toy, be careful -- in some instances, silicone lube can bond to silicone toys and ruin them. You can always conduct a spot test by putting a small dab of lube on a non-essential part of the toy.  The spot test method is somewhat fallible, however, in that sometimes damage is done to the toy over time rather than in one isolated incident. If you don’t want risk damaging a beloved silicone toy, you can cover the toy with a condom to protect it.

Also, be careful if you spill silicone lube on a smooth surface like a hardwood or linoleum floor since it’s thin, very, very slippery, and difficult to clean up. Also, it can stain fabrics, like clothes or bedsheets. Silicone lube, unlike water-based lube, is also flammable. So, please, put down those massage candles for now.

The Center for Sexual Pleasure and Health is a sexuality education and advocacy non profit dedicated to reducing sexual shame, challenging misinformation, and elevating the field of sexuality. For more information on our services and resources, visit thecsph.org

Part 3 Will cover Water-Based lubes  

Any questions about this or other topics be sure to send them to christie@christiestoybox.com

Posted in Guides By Center for Sexual Pleasure and Health

Your Guide To Lubes

12/2/2015 3:07 PM

When you were a kid, did you ever play on a Slip ‘N Slide? Pretty good times, right? Yeah! Well, good times until you hit that one dry spot. Ouch. Not fun. Sex without lube, then, is kind of like a Slip ‘N Slide without nearly enough water.

At The CSPH, we strongly recommend that lube becomes your best friend for all sexy times -- for masturbating, for penetrative vaginal sex, certainly for any and all types of anal play, and beyond. As a rule, we always recommend lube because, fundamentally, it makes sex safer -- it minimizes chances of injury, thereby diminishing the risk of STI transmission. By reducing friction, it also makes condoms less likely to break. And the additional slipperiness just makes sex more fun! (Like a Slip ‘N Slide with plenty of water.)

Many vulva-owners experience some degree of chronic vaginal dryness. Actually, vaginal wetness isn’t necessarily correlated with arousal at all; it can be, but it is not always for everyone. A vulva-owner can be totally turned on and ready to go but completely dry. (Conversely, a vulva-owner can also be really wet while otherwise completely not aroused, just going about daily business. Vaginal lubrication is not necessarily reliable or predictable!) Also, certain prescriptions can contribute to vaginal dryness, including but not limited to hormonal birth control, antidepressants, and antihistamines. Since vaginal lubrication is not always -- or even usually -- sufficient for penetrative vaginal sex, we recommend lube for these activities.

Also, the anus is not self-lubricating at all. Anal tissue is approximately 40% thinner than vaginal tissue, too, which makes it more prone to fissures and injury. All of that being said, lube for any type of anal play is a must, both for pleasure and for safety.

All of that being said, we want to stress before we proceed that lube is better than no lube. There are certain lubes that may be better suited for certain activities. As with most consumer products, some lubes are higher quality and ultimately more body-safe than others. At The CSPH, we do recommend certain, more body-safe lubes over others. Still, at the end of the day, as long as you’re using some kind of lube, it’s better than nothing. We hope to educate about many different issues specifically regarding lube, but please bear that in mind as you read. So, again, remember: Lube is better than no lube.

Addressing Sensitivities
Some people are sensitive to certain products commonly found in drugstore lubes. Luckily, research has isolated the main ingredients that are most commonly irritating for folks. Those are most notably glycerin, propylene glycol, and parabens. Some folks might think, “Yeah, I tried this KY stuff one time and got a beastly yeast infection, so I don’t think lube is for me.” To that, we say: Hold up! That’s just one type of lube, my friend, and it probably contained at least one commonly irritating ingredient. There are lots of other options.


Here’s a short, sweet chemistry lesson for you. Glycerin is in most drugstore lubricants -- you know, your standard KYs and Astroglides. Unless otherwise specified, it’s in most drugstore lubes. Glycerin is a humectant, meaning that it absorbs ambient water and locks in moisture. This obviously makes it ideal for lube and many other personal care products as well, including lotion and many cosmetics. Glycerin, too, is sweet and safe to eat; it’s also in plenty of food products. There are many reasons companies use glycerin; it’s dynamic, inexpensive, and, fundamentally, safe; it doesn’t degrade condoms, it’s non-toxic, and it’s easy to clean up.

Still, some vulva-owners prone to irritation and/or yeast infections find glycerin problematic. Glycerin is not a type of sugar, but it is chemically very similar to glucose. If you have a generally sensitive vagina or you’re prone to yeast infections, glycerin can bring on a yeast infection or simply cause irritation. If you use lubes that contain glycerin and get a yeast infection or experience irritation, we recommend avoiding them in the future. Higher-quality products usually do not contain glycerin since glycerin can become sticky and tacky in an uncomfortable way. (Not to be elitist about it, but we’re just sayin’.) Still, all things considered, it’s important to note that glycerin is not inherently harmful or unsafe; it’s just not ideal for some people’s bodies. If you have a lube that contains glycerin that works for you, there’s no need to throw it out.

Lots of people are allergic or sensitive to propylene glycol, too. Like glycerin, propylene glycol is a humectant that is in a lot of personal care products. According to the Scholar Chemistry Material Safety Data Sheet, side effects of propylene glycol can include irritation and sensitivity to the eyes, skin, and mucous membranes. Yep, mucous membranes. You know what body parts are almost entirely comprised of mucous membranes? Vaginas and anuses. That being said, it might be wise to find a lube that doesn’t contain propylene glycol. Again, it’s not like it’s toxic, and some folks don’t experience much or any irritation from it. Still, if you use it and find that it’s irritating to you, we recommend a lube without propylene glycol. (More on our specific lube recommendations a little bit later as we break down specific types of lubes further.)

Also, an additional note on propylene glycol and glycerin: Recent research indicates that it may facilitate cell damage and small tears in mucous membranes, which can potentially lead to increased risk of STI transmission. Water-based lubes in general evaporate as you use them, which can contribute to chafing and subsequent minute fissures in mucous membranes. All of that being said, you may want to avoid lubes that contain propylene glycol and/or glycerin if you’re engaging in activities that pose a high risk of STI or HIV transmission, like unprotected anal sex. For low-risk activities, for masturbation, or if you know your partner’s status, however, it’s probably safe for you to use products that contain propylene glycol or glycerin provided they don’t irritate your body.

Parabens, too, can cause issues. According to research that has emerged in the last ten years or so, parabens -- a common preservative found in nearly all beauty and personal care products -- are potentially harmful, both for your body and the environment. Some folks report issues -- like irritation and increased infection rates -- after using lubes that contain parabens. The good news is that many lube manufacturers have begun making products without parabens in response to increased public awareness about their potential risks. If you’re on a budget or in need of a drugstore lube, Astroglide actually makes a pretty decent ultra-gentle water-based gel that does not contain parabens. You can pick that one up for a few bucks at most drugstores. Parabens might not be a big deal for you personally, though, and that’s okay. They are in many other personal care products, after all.

It’s also important to note that many high-quality and/or organic lubes contain aloe or aloe derivatives. Aloe can be a great ingredient for lots of folks with sensitive skin. If you’re allergic or sensitive to aloe, however, make sure to check the ingredients on your lube comprehensively before use.

The bottom line is that sex should ideally be both pleasurable and as healthy and safe as possible. Using an irritating lube can hinder both your pleasure and your safety. So, if you notice any itching, burning, or general irritation after using a certain lube, it’s best to discontinue use ASAP. You may also want to seek out lubes without certain ingredients for the reasons delineated above.


The Center for Sexual Pleasure and Health is a sexuality education and advocacy non profit dedicated to reducing sexual shame, challenging misinformation, and elevating the field of sexuality. For more information on our services and resources, visit thecsph.org


Part 2 We will tell you all about Silicon-Based lubes  

Any questions about this or other topics be sure to send them to christie@christiestoybox.com

Posted in Guides By Center For Sexual Pleasure and Health
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