While we might all 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. First up, 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 ever purchased 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 of sex-positive retailers, sex educators and advocates, and sex workers to find the best lubes to keep in your bedside drawer (or wherever else you might want to put it, we’re not here to judge). If you’re looking for the best vibrators, we tracked those down, too.
“If it had to be just one, I would recommend Uberlube. Uberlube is THE BEST. Not joking — it is one the highest-quality silicone lubes out there. While you can’t use silicone lubes with silicone toys, you can use it for everything else. This lube is very thin and super slick — silicone does not absorb into your body, so no need to reapply — it lasts a really long time and just washes off with soap and water. Plus, it comes in the classiest bottle you’ve ever seen. Aside from being a staff favorite, it is also a customer favorite! Shag loves Uberlube!” —Samantha Bard, co-owner, Shag, Williamsburg
“My favorite lube, the one that lives full-time in my automatic lube warmer and dispenser, is Sliquid Silver. It’s a silicone lube that I came across when I attended my first conference for sexuality professionals in 2013. 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. I love Sliquid’s lubes because they’re all vegan, gluten-free, not tested on animals, and free of irritating chemicals. It’s also great for shower play because silicone lube isn’t water-soluble — it must be washed off with soap.” —Ashley Manta, sex educator; founder, CannaSexual
“I really like the Good Clean Love product line. They use organic ingredients and practice ethical business practices. Their products are paraben-free, and they respect and nurture the ‘vaginal ecosystem,’ and the founder, Wendy Strgar, is a passionate sex educator, author, and advocate. Great products from a company that practices and is an exemplar of corporate citizenry.” —Ian Kerner, Ph.D., sex and relationship specialist; author, She Comes First
“The lube I recommend is Tenga’s Hole Lotion and Egg Lotion. Both can be used on their own, 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.” —Dr. Chris Donaghue, Ph.D., author, Sex Outside the Lines; podcast co-host, Loveline With Amber Rose
“Good Vibrations had been selling lubricant for around 30 years, answering customer questions, and vetting specific concerns when we decided 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.). We made a range of lubes, but Please Gel stands out for many of our customers. It’s a light gel, so not too 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. It’s water-based, so can be used with latex and silicone toys, and it’s nonirritating and mild to taste. (Some otherwise great lubes taste just awful.)” —Carol Queen, Ph.D., staff sexologist, Good Vibrations, Berkeley, California
“We usually suggest Sutil if someone was looking for a water-based lube. It provides luxurious, long-lasting glide, and silky, sensual pleasure. Even though it’s a water-based lube, it offers more of a nonsticky, silicone feel, which is what most people look for. Sutil is made with the finest botanical ecocertified ingredients [and it’s] water-based, paraben-free, glycerin-free, taste-free, and condom- and toy-friendly.” —Kim Ibricevic, manager, Eve’s Garden, Manhattan
“I buy my lube from As You Like It Pleasure Boutique online, which is owned by a fierce and fabulous environmental activist, Kim Marks. She suggested this lube, and I love it. Very ecosensuous. She has raised the bar on ‘natural,’ because a lot of lubes say they are ‘natural,’ but they have nasty chemicals in them. With all the carcinogens in our environment, we don’t need them all over our sensitive and thirsty erogenous zones.” —Annie Sprinkle, author, Explorer’s Guide to Planet Orgasm
“All I can say is, to me better than lube is actual spit; lube tends to dry out really, really fast, whereas spit tends to not dry out and keeps the moisture and wetness. I also find to combine lube and spit — it works great. When it comes to lube that I use, I primarily only use Astroglide, which is well-known in the porn industry and among my peers in the BDSM community. I personally use their water-based lube — I would only use their silicone-based lube if it was for latex. I’ve tried a bunch of different ones, and this one, even though it can be a bit more pricey, is definitely the best! But I would prefer spit over anything else!” —Cassidy, full-time sex worker and advocate
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