While we all might be curious about the best plunger or probiotic tampon or cold-sore remedy, it can be difficult to discuss these more personal items. That’s why we’re tackling Things We Don’t Talk About, a series in which we track down the best hygiene-, sex-, and bodily function-related things we all need but might be too embarrassed to ask about. Today, expert recommendations on better lube (just in time for Valentine’s Day).
Buying lube can be, at best, embarrassing, and at worst, downright confusing, especially if the only type of lube you’ve purchased before is from the drugstore. And if you’ve resigned yourself to using less-than-perfect lube (or avoided it entirely), you probably just need to try a different type. “There is likely no lube that will be perfect for every user,” explains Carol Queen, staff sexologist at Good Vibrations, a woman-founded sex-toy retailer based in California that’s been in business for over three decades. “As with food sensitivities, some lubricant ingredients just don’t agree with everyone’s body chemistry.”
To help you find the best lube for you and your sex life without having to buy and test dozens of bottles and tubes and packets of the stuff, I talked with employees at adult retailers and sex educators, advocates, and therapists to find the best lubes to keep in your bedside drawer (or wherever else you might want to put them). And if you’re looking for the best vibrators, we tracked those down, too.
Best Silicone-Based Lube
Silicone-based lubes are excellent if you’re looking for something long-lasting (though they should not be used with silicone toys, because they’ll break them down) that you won’t have to keep reapplying during sex. And according to Samantha Bard, co-owner of Shag in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, Überlube is “one the highest-quality silicone lubes out there.” Emily Morse, doctor of human sexuality and host of Sex With Emily on SiriusXM, agrees, calling it a new favorite. She’s especially impressed that Überlube has only two ingredients: “It is basically pure silicone with a trace of vitamin E.” Plus, both Bard and Morse love the stylish glass bottle, which looks nice enough to leave on your nightstand.
Carolanne Marcantonio, a Brooklyn-based sex therapist and licensed master social worker, recommends Gun Oil. The bullet-shaped packaging is, admittedly, a little aggressive, but this lube is great for any human looking for a super long-lasting lube. Like Überlube, Gun Oil is silicone-based with vitamin E, but it also has aloe, and according to Marcantonio, this mixture, “helps to minimize any unwanted friction [and] it helps to restore tender tissue because of the vitamin E.” That means it’s especially nice for anal play. Plus, she adds, “it really stays slick for a while.”
“My favorite lube, the one that lives full-time in my automatic lube warmer and dispenser, is Sliquid Silver,” says Ashley Manta, sex educator and founder of CannaSexual. “Silicone lube is incredibly slippery, and [this one] lasts significantly longer than water-based lube (and most other silicone lubes I’ve tried), making it ideal for sex acts like hand jobs, vulva massage, and anal play.” This lube is a great option for shower play, Manta notes, “because silicone lube isn’t water-soluble — it must be washed off with soap.”
Best Water-Based Lubes
“If you’ve never used lube, a water-based lube is a good choice,” says Morse. She recommends Pjur, specifically their women’s formula, “if you have any sensitivities. It still lasts a good amount of time, and it’s great.” It’s also fragrance-free and has a neutral taste, and because it’s water-based, it’s both toy- and condom-safe, so it’s really versatile, as well.
Another slightly-less-intimidating — and affordable — lube, is Jelly from Unbound, which comes recommended by writer and sex and relationship expert Shelby Sells. “It’s 95 percent organic materials used to make it, and it’s vegan,” she says. The water-based formula and easy-to-squeeze packaging also make it super versatile. “I use it with my toys, and I use it with my partners when we’re using condoms,” explains Sells. “This one is an easy go-to.” Bonus: The minimalist, millennial pink tube would basically blend in seamlessly with any beauty products you might keep on your nightstand.
Sliquid also makes water-based lubes, two of which were recommended by Marcantonio. The first is Sliquid Sassy, which has a pink label and is what Marcantonio calls the company’s “booty formula.” “That one is very, very thick, very, very cushiony,” she explains. And like all of Sliquid’s other lubes, it’s vegan, paraben- and glycerin-free, and hypoallergenic.
Another thicker, water-based lube from Sliquid is their Sea formula. This one, according to Marcantonio, “is thick because of the carrageenan in it.” But it also has other seaweed extracts, like that of wakame and nori, that help moisturize and reduce inflammation of some of your body’s more sensitive parts.
“We usually suggest Sutil if someone was looking for a water-based lube,” says Kim Ibricevic, manager of Eve’s Garden in Manhattan. “It provides luxurious, long-lasting glide, and silky, sensual pleasure,” she says. “Even though it’s a water-based lube, it offers more of a nonsticky, silicone feel, which is what most people look for.” Plus, it’s paraben- and glycerin-free, taste-free, and condom- and toy-friendly.
Good Vibrations in Berkeley, California has been selling lube for around 30 years, and according to staff sexologist Carol Queen, Ph.D., there were a lot of factors they considered when they went to “develop a brand that would do what we liked a lube to do — and did not do the things we did NOT appreciate: irritate, gum up, etc.” The result is a range of lubes, of which Please Gel is a customer favorite. It’s water-based but gel-like, thick enough “to add some cush and silky [or] slippery sensation with touch and insertion. Once it’s on the body, it will resolve into a slippery and long-lasting lubricant.”
“The lube I recommend is Tenga’s Hole Lotion and Egg Lotion,” says Dr. Chris Donaghue, Ph.D., author of Sex Outside the Lines and podcast co-host of Loveline With Amber Rose. “Both can be used on their own,” he explains, “but both are also a perfect pairing for use with Tenga’s sexual-health and pleasure products. I recommend Tenga lube because this company uses the highest-quality ingredients, which is important, as your body absorbs and is penetrated with the lube and its ingredients, but also because a company’s ethics must matter in today’s political (and sexual) climate. Tenga has a powerful social-justice mission of elevating the conversation around sex and masturbation, not just sales and product visibility.”
Best Natural Lubes
If you’re looking for a “good, thick lube” that’s going to be fairly restorative, Marcantonio recommends Good Clean Love’s Almost Naked Lube. “The first ingredient is organic aloe, and it’s 95 percent organic,” she explains. Ian Kerner, Ph.D., sex and relationship specialist and the author of She Comes First, also likes the Good Clean Love product line, lauding their founder Wendy Strgar as “a passionate sex educator, author, and advocate. Great products from a company that practices and is an exemplar of corporate citizenry,” given their commitment to never using petrochemicals in their products, even going so far as to use green plastics made of recyclable sugar cane for the packaging.
“I buy my lube from As You Like It Pleasure Boutique online, which is owned by a fierce and fabulous environmental activist, Kim Marks,” says Annie Sprinkle, author of The Explorer’s Guide to Planet Orgasm. That’s how Sprinkle learned about Aloe Cadabra, which, like Good Clean Love’s Almost Naked Lube, is mostly aloe. “Very eco-sensuous,” she notes. Plus, it comes in a variety of pleasant fragrances, including lavender and pina colada.
Foria is different from the other lubes on this list for a couple of reasons. First and foremost, it’s coconut oil-based, which means it’s not latex condom-safe and some folks might have a sensitivity or allergy to it. It’s also got CBD in it, and according to Morse, “If you apply it 30 minutes before any sexual activity, for a lot of women, it can just help [you] relax. It helps with anxiety, it can help women who have pain during sex. And it helps them with increased lubrication, decreased pain.” Sells has been using Foria with her partner and enjoys it, describing the CBD as giving “kind of a warming sensation, and it’s super relaxing.” She adds that it’s great “especially for foreplay and if you’re going to do erotic massages.”
Best Flavored Lube
Another coconut oil-based option comes from Woo More Play, though this one is sans CBD. Called Coconut Love Oil, it comes recommended by Morse, in part because the lube, which contains stevia for sweetness and vanilla extract for flavor, just tastes really good. Plus, because it’s coconut oil, “there’s no clean-up, it just moisturizes into your skin,” she explains.
If you’re looking for a wider range of flavors, Morse recommends System Jo. “They make these amazing formulas that are so delicious. They have crème brûlée and salted caramel and watermelon, and they taste really great,” which is great for oral sex. “You could eat them,” Morse laughs. “They put them on ice cream at the trade shows. They’re delicious.”
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