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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. If you have resigned yourself to a life of using less-than-perfect lube (or you’ve avoided it entirely), though, you probably just need to try a different type to notice better results. But as Carol Queen, a staff sexologist at women-founded sex-toy retailer Good Vibrations, notes, “There is likely no lube that will be perfect for every user. As with food sensitivities, some lubricant ingredients just don’t agree with everyone’s body chemistry.”
To help 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 Queen and 12 more experts — including employees at adult retailers, sex educators, advocates, and therapists — about the kind they’d recommend. Below, the nine best lubes to keep in your bedside drawer (or wherever else you might want to put them), according to the pros. And if you’re looking for more stuff to spice up the bedroom, be sure to check out our lists of the best vibrators, dildos, and butt plugs.
What we’re looking for
The most important thing to look out for when shopping for lube is the main ingredient. Silicone-based lubes are excellent if you’re looking for something long-lasting that you won’t have to keep reapplying during sex. But if you’re looking for something to use with silicone toys, you should choose a water-based lube. Oil-based lubes, meanwhile, are easy to spread, moisturizing, and great if you like to incorporate massage into your foreplay (though they are not condom-safe).
And if affordability is a factor, you also want to keep an eye on the total ounces of lube you’re getting per dollar.
Best overall lube
Ingredient: Silicone-based | Size: 1.6 ounces
According to Samantha Bard, a co-owner of Brooklyn’s Shag, Überlube is “one the highest-quality silicone lubes out there,” and it can be used by anyone looking for something with a good amount of slickness. Überlube, in fact, was the most-recommended lube in my reporting, suggested by five of our experts. Emily Morse, a doctor of human sexuality and the host of Sex With Emily on SiriusXM, explains that Überlube has only two ingredients: “It is basically pure silicone with a trace of vitamin E,” she says. (This simple ingredient list — along with the fact that it’s gluten, glycerin, and paraben free — makes it one of the best natural lubes too.) The very first time I tested out the lube, I was impressed: it was very slippery and smooth, but not sticky on the skin. And a smaller, but no less important, detail is the lube’s stylish glass bottle, which looks nice enough to leave on your nightstand. The vitamin E provides additional smoothness; that, along with the cushiony feel of the silicone, makes this lube especially ideal for those engaging in “full-on anal penetration,” says Dr. Evan Goldstein, the founder and CEO of Bespoke Surgical. Sofiya Alexandra — a comedian and co-host of the sex, dating, and gender podcast Private Parts Unknown — agrees, adding that Überlube is “great for all kinds of play, vaginal or anal. It feels incredible.”
Best silicone-based lube
Ingredient: Silicone-based | Size: 4.2 ounces
Sex educator Ashley Manta, the founder of CannaSexual, says her favorite lube, the one that lives full time in her automatic lube warmer and dispenser, is Sliquid Silver because it is “incredibly slippery,” lasts significantly longer than water-based lubes and most other silicone lubes she’s tried, and is “ideal for sex acts like hand jobs, vulva massage, and anal play.” This and other silicone-based lubes are also 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 lube
Ingredient: Water-based | Size: 2 ounces
If you’re looking for a water-based lube to use with your toys, Kim Ibricevic, the manager of Eve’s Garden in Manhattan, usually directs customers to Sutil. “It provides luxurious, long-lasting glide and silky, sensual pleasure,” she says, explaining that “even though it’s a water-based lube, it offers more of a nonsticky silicone feel that most people look for.”
Best coconut-oil-based lube
Ingredient: Coconut-oil-based | Size: 3 ounces
Because this lube from Coconu is coconut-oil based, it’s not latex-condom safe, and some folks might have a sensitivity or allergy to it. But for folks looking for something edible, its coconut-oil base makes it a good option. It comes recommended by Kim Marks, the owner of As You Like It, a nontoxic and environmentally conscious sex shop in Eugene, Oregon, who told us it is edible — the formula contains coconut as well as sunflower and sweet-almond oils — and free of alcohol, petroleum, parabens, gluten, fragrances, and dyes. Those looking for a natural lube should know this is also USDA certified organic, hypoallergenic, and cruelty free.
Best lube for sex toys
Ingredient: Water-based | Size: 5 ounces
I highly recommend this water-based lube from Lelo — makers of some of our favorite vibrators — that was designed to be used with sex toys. The non-greasy, condom-safe formula contains no fragrance, so it’s great for those with sensitive skin, and is infused with aloe so it won’t dry out as quickly as some other water-based lubes tend to do. Plus the handsome bottle is so discreetly designed it could easily be mistaken for one of the many perfume bottles on my nightstand.
Best lube for anal
Ingredient: Silicone-based | Size: 3.4 ounces
Kit Richardson, a buyer for the Museum of Sex and its MoSex shop, agrees that silicone-based lube is the way to go for anal sex without toys involved “because it lasts the longest and provides the most cushion.” Pjur’s Back Door lube is specifically made with anal sex in mind, she explains, noting it is formulated with natural ingredients like jojoba and guava extract “that help with relaxation” and contains no numbing agents. The latter detail is important, says Richardson, because you want to be able to listen to your body if something becomes painful.
Best lube for sensitive skin
Ingredient: Water-based | Size: 4 ounces
In talking with our experts about water-based lubes, one thing that came up more than once is that they are typically a better choice if you’re going to use lube with silicone toys or condoms (for the reasons we explained above). When we did a deep dive into the best natural lubes, Carolanne Marcantonio, a Brooklyn-based sex therapist and licensed master social worker, told us about this water-based one that she describes as “good and thick” and fairly restorative. The first ingredient is organic aloe, and it’s 95 percent organic, she explains. It is also hypoallergenic which makes it an ideal option for those with sensitive skin. Ian Kerner, a sex and relationship specialist and the author of She Comes First, also likes Good Clean Love’s products. He says founder Wendy Strgar’s commitment to never using petrochemicals in the products and to use plastic made of recyclable sugarcane for packaging makes the brand “an exemplar of corporate citizenry.”
Best flavored lube
Ingredient: Water-based | Size: 3 ounces
Unbound’s Jelly lube is a favorite of writer and sex and relationship expert Shelby Sells. The water-based formula is made with 95 percent organic materials and is vegan, she says, adding that it comes in easy-to-squeeze packaging. Sells uses it with toys and with partners when using condoms adding that “this one is an easy go-to.” Bonus: The minimalist millennial-pink tube would blend in seamlessly with any beauty products you might keep on your nightstand. (The lube also comes in to-go-size packets, in case of a booty call.) And it is lightly flavored with food-grade vanilla and lemon flavoring so it tastes good, too.
Best lotionlike lube
Ingredient: Water-based | Size: 16 oz.
For a water-based lube that’s more like a lotion or a cream than a gel, Daniel Saynt, the founder of NSFW, a private members’ club for sexual exploration, recommends Boy Butter. “What I love about this lube is that you’d never know it is water based,” he says, thanks to the thick texture. Like Uberlube, it’s got vitamin E for extra smoothness, but this thicker formula is whipped with shea butter into what Saynt describes as a “thick, creamy” lube that stays in place. He adds that “it doesn’t feel sticky, and, after use, you can just rub it into your skin as a moisturizer.”
Some more lubes we've written about
• Sofiya Alexandra, comedian and co-host of the sex, dating, and gender podcast Private Parts Unknown
• Samantha Bard, co-owner of Shag
• Dr. Evan Goldstein, founder and CEO of Bespoke Surgical
• Kim Ibricevic, manager of Eve’s Garden
• Ian Kerner, sex and relationship specialist and author of She Comes First
• Ashley Manta, sex educator and founder of CannaSexual
• Carolanne Marcantonio, sex therapist and licensed master social worker
• Kim Marks, owner of As You Like It
• Emily Morse, doctor of human sexuality and the host of Sex With Emily
• Kit Richardson, buyer for the Museum of Sex and its MoSex shop
• Daniel Saynt, founder of NSFW
• Shelby Sells, writer and sex and relationship expert
•Carol Queen, a staff sexologist at women-founded sex-toy retailer Good Vibrations
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