We're glad you asked. We were wondering the same thing, which is why we asked sexual health experts to recommend the best lubes for sensitive skin. Plus, their insights on how lube helps in the bedroom, what ingredients to look for, and what to stay away from. Here's what they had to say.
How does lube affect the skin anyway?
Good question. Dr. Lucky Sekhon, a fertility specialist and board-certified OB/GYN in New York City, explains that the skin of the vagina and vulva is the most sensitive skin on the body—whatever you put down there is going to absorb faster than other body parts. Lube is supposed to add moisture, but if you're using the wrong kind of lube or have fussy skin, irritation can occur.
"The wrong lubrication or one that does not work with your body will cause irritation or inflammation which will result in a change in your body's pH, resulting in issues like yeast infections or BV," says Dr. Sekhon. "Some signs to look out for would be tingling sensations, redness, or itchiness. If this occurs, discontinue use immediately."
When experimenting with new lubes, do a patch test first (kind of like you would do with a new skin-care product). If you have a bad reaction, don't use it. And, whenever you're done using whatever lube you use, be sure to wash it off thoroughly.
I have sensitive skin—what ingredients should I stay away from?
Dr. Sekhon says glycerin is the most common culprit for irritation, but it's not the only one. Petroleum jelly, microbicide nonoxynol-9 (a spermicide), and propylene glycol can cause issues, too. "[These] are known for trapping and leading to bacterial overgrowth, causing irritation, and sometimes even contact dermatitis," she says.
Dr. Suzanne Hall, an OB/GYN at Eastside Gynecology in Detroit, recommends taking caution with anything containing fragrances or flavors, as well as anything that claims to be cooling or warming. "I tend to recommend more natural products, such as a single ingredient oil, like coconut oil in a liquid form," she says. "I find this type of single ingredient oil to be less irritating, though should any irritation occur in a single ingredient product, you know exactly what ingredient caused the irritation. With the multiple ingredients in commercial lubricants, you can’t tell which of the several products may have caused the irritation."
Just note, if you do use oil-based lubes, they can damage sex toys and condoms. Not all of them do, but some, so do your research beforehand.
Now without further ado, here are the expert-approved lubes to stock in your pleasure chest.
The 12 best lubes for sensitive skin
Good Clean Love is one of Dr. Sekhon’s go-to suggestions. “This brand is water-based, certified organic, and glycerin-free,” she says. “It is also formulated with aloe vera, which mimics natural lubrication, and contains lactic acid to help maintain an optimal pH balance during use.”
Dr. Hall’s pick isn’t a lubricant, but rather a vaginal moisturizer designed to be used daily to help the body restore its natural lubrication. “This product uses a safe and natural product, hyaluronic acid (also used in many cosmetic products) to provide relief from vaginal dryness, for comfort with intimacy,” she says. “It helps rejuvenate vaginal tissue, causing the vaginal tissue to replenish its own natural moisture.”
Rebecca Alvarez Story, MA, a sexologist turned founder and CEO of the sexual wellness brand Bloomi, is a fan of this water-based lube. “It’s unscented and formulated for the most sensitive tissue ensuring ideal performance with no irritation or adverse reactions,” she says.
Good Clean Love gets the seal of (expert) approval again. This time, Story recommends this formulation that’s designed with ultra-sensitive skin in mind. There’s no weird chemicals, dyes, fragrances, parabens, phlatates, or anything else—it’s gluten-free, glycerin-free, and about as good as you can get.
If you do want to add some flavor to playtime, check out this lube from The Honey Pot. The formular is pH-balanced to support your health, so unlike other flavored or scented lubes, it’s less likely to leave you itchy, red, or burn-y.
When looking for lubricants, Story recommends aiming for anything plant-based that won’t mess with your natural microbiome. She suggests Coconu, which is one of the only USDA-approved organic lubes on the market and uses a blend of sunflower and coconut oil to add moisture.
Dame makes a dreamy water-based, aloe infused lube that slides and glides with ease. It’s safe for everything including toys, contraception and most condoms. Best of all, it comes with a cover to allow for more grip when things get slippery in the heat of the moment.
Here’s another FDA-approved organic lubricant. Tabu’s lube is formulated with feel-good ingredients only, researched and recommended by GYNs and menopause experts. It comes in a chic dropper that looks great in your medicine cabinet, on your nightstand—wherever things might get hot and heavy.
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