Why a Sex Expert Urges You To Use This ‘Goldilocks’ Type of Lube—And the 12 Brands She Can’t Stop Recommending
When it comes to personal lubricants, also known as lubes or personal moisturizers, there are a few different types of options. It mostly depends on personal preference, but it's also good to know that certain lubes don't play nice with all materials. For instance, there are oil-based lubes—but those may compromise the integrity of latex condoms. There are also silicone-based lubes, but those might erode your silicone sex toys. However! There is one option that's generally safe to pair with just about anything (and anyone): water-based lubes.
Water-based lubes 101
Water-based lubes are safe to use on any area of your body (internal or external) and won’t compromise the integrity of safer sex measures like latex condoms or your sex toys. Sex educator Cindy Luquin, MA, CSE, founder of sexual-health education platform Pleasure to People, says that she always recommends water-based lube because “it's the easiest to clean up, won't leave oily stains on your sheets or clothes, and is safe to use with sex toys and condoms.”
Thinking that you’re “too young” to need lube or “too old” to get into the game? Luquin would urge you to think again. “All people can benefit from using water-based lube,” says Luquin, debunking myths that only “dried up old ladies” need lube, as was a trope in the 2007 hit film Superbad.
She adds that water-based lubes “create a more pleasurable experience, and reduce friction and risk of injury.” For that reason, Luquin encourages folks to think of lube as a friend rather than a foe, in both partnered play and solo sessions. However, lube does not prevent STIs, says Luquin, so make sure to still protect yourself and practice safe sex.
With that caveat out of the way, read on to shop the best 12 water-based lubes to include in your next sexcapade. Looking for lubes for sensitive skin? Organic lubes? CBD lubes? Warming lubes? We've got expert-vetted roundups for those, too (just click the links!).
The best water-based lubes currently on the market
Perhaps my favorite thing about Bloomi’s water-based lube is that it’s designed to supplement the moisture that your body produces on its own (rather than take its place completely). Additionally, this option gets Luquin’s eco-friendly seal of approval.
“For the clean-conscious consumer, Bloomi is a wonderful Latinx-owned brand that takes pride in providing high-quality, plant-based lube,” says Luquin. Bloomi’s formulations are science-backed, too. The main ingredients in this one are purified water, organic sunflower seed extract, and green tea extract, which are all hydrating ingredients.
Though its bottle is not the most aesthetically pleasing, #LubeLife is among the best sellers on Amazon, raking in more than 110,000 ratings for an average of 4.4 stars. I was sent a six-pack, and can fully attest that the hype is well worth it. The brand offers flavored and non-flavored options, and my favorite is the original.
#LubeLife leaves out parabens, glycerin, silicone, and oil, so it’s also a good option for sensitive skin. The list of what’s in it is actually quite short at just five ingredients, including water; propanediol, an emulsification agent; gluconolactone, which helps prevent clumping; hydroxyethylcellulose, which is a thickening agent; and citric acid, which prevents the lube from feeling sticky. Take it from me, a little (like a nickel-sized amount) goes a long, long way.
You know how any sort of oil (olive, baby, or otherwise) stains? That’s another concern when it comes to using oil-based lubes. Pepper’s water-based lube doesn’t have that problem, because it is oil-free. According to their website, and my personal experience, this lube wipes off clean with a washcloth. Their website also states that this lube is safe to use with “every kind of condom and every kind of partner (human, rechargeable, and battery-operated).”
Luquin also stands behind this option as a more lavish lube. “If you want luxurious vibes in the bedroom, then Pepper has got you covered from its packaging to its ingredients,” she says. “Their water-based lube includes clean ingredients, luxury minimalist packaging, and a silky feel, reminding you that you deserve the pleasure you want.”
Maude’s water-based lubricant hits all the wellness buzzwords: organic, vegan, cruelty-free, fragrance-free, pH-balanced, and paraben-free. Additionally, it’s formulated with aloe, which is highly moisturizing for the skin all over your body. To get this off, though, you’ll need to rinse the areas to which you applied it with warm water. The good news is that even if you don’t wash it off, you won’t feel sticky.
To use it, the Maude product description recommends applying the product on an “as-needed basis.” Their recommended strategy also includes feeling out which areas are less wet and applying the lubricant directly to those spots.
Another option with a short ingredient list is Lovers Lube, which contains only six ingredients. The list includes hydrating and anti-sticky agents like propanediol, gluconolactone, hydroxyethylcellulose, and citric acid. To use it, Lovers recommends applying the “desired amount of lubricant to yourself, a partner, or a favorite sex toy to enhance sensation, improve comfort, reduce friction, and prevent microtears.”
This water-based lube is truly a superstar, and can be used with virtually any sex toy, as it’s compatible with silicone, rubber, latex, and polyisoprene. “So, I never thought of using lube before because I never had an issue producing my own juices downstairs needed for the deed but DAMN, I was missing out,” reads one review from a verified buyer named Heidi S., who awarded the product five stars.
I’m gonna go ahead and say it: This is the best water-based lube I’ve ever tried, and I have more than a handful in my, um, toy chest. The bottle comes with a pump that makes dispensing the solution super simple, and the bottle is just the right length so that the amount the pump dispenses gets you where you need to go.
Upon doing more research, I learned that Smilemakers Generous Gel was specifically formulated for people with vaginas, but you can also use it anally. What’s more, is because of its original intent, this formula is also pH-optimal. Having tried it myself, I can say that it’s not sticky, it lasts a while, and it feels as natural as could be. Seriously.
Since this option comes with a pump applicator, it might be best for beginners who are unsure of how much product to use. Additionally, it’s safe to use with any sex toys and most condoms, even flavored condoms. You also get 8.4 fluid ounces, so this might be the best bang for your buck. (Honestly, no pun intended.) One Lovehoney reviewer said that this is actually the only lube they buy. “[This is a] very good lube. [It] does not get tacky or sticky when used, [and] a little goes a long way with this lube.”
This is also a great option for solo play. I’ve tried this with my Womanizer Clitoral Suction Stimulator (one of my all-time favorite sex toys) and the toy hasn’t been harmed at all. I’ve also tried it with a partner and it makes a big difference—for the better. The manufacturer’s recommendation is to apply it liberally, which will be different from person to person. Try starting off with a small amount and adding more if necessary.
“My favorite water-based lube is from Good Clean Love,” says Luquin. “This one is specifically formulated for sensitive skin, has a thinner consistency, and is hypoallergenic, and unscented.” Those are exactly the characteristics that have led this lube to rave reviews on Amazon.
One titled “XXX-rated review, because that’s why we’re all here” might go down as my favorite review of all time. In it, a user named Tracy Marie says that this lube “makes for painless sex” and provides that “mac and cheese sound” that folks love to hear. She continues: “I hope they never change whatever they are doing with this product because I have no complaints. I’m about to put this on subscription so it gets delivered every few weeks!”
Aside from looking like it’s worth $1 million, Lelo’s personal moisturizer is also free from parabens, glycerin, and fragrances, which makes it another great option for people with sensitive skin. Its formulation features aloe vera, which is highly hydrating and prevents irritation from friction, as well as ingredients to help balance pH.
One thing to note here is that this looks like it’d be a spray because of the dispenser. But this isn’t a spray, assures the manufacturer, and is a gel-consistency lube. Another thing that sets Lelo’s lube apart is that it’s designed to be more versatile, meaning you can use it as lube and as a massage oil. Truly, it’s whatever the mood calls for.
Another amazing aesthetic option comes in the all-gold bottle that is Zalo’s personal moisturizer. Additionally, the formula is hypoallergenic, fragrance-free, and non-staining, so you don’t have to worry about throwing your sheets in the washer immediately post-coitus.
Zalo recommends storing this at room temperature, so don’t get any ideas about putting it in the fridge for a cooling sensation. In fact, some reviewers have noticed that there’s inherently a little bit of a warming sensation to this lube. For that reason, they recommend not using it anally—unless that’s your cup of tea.
Sexologist Marla Renee Stewart, MA, previously told Well+Good that this pick was one of her favorites—and it’s not hard to see why. The ingredients list on NaturaLove is also short and free of parabens as well as glycerin. Some reviewers have noted, though, that this is a quick burn, and it gets sticky after a short time.
That said, not everyone enjoys marathon sex—which also means that not everyone needs long-lasting lube. I, for one, like to keep it under 10 minutes, and this lube gets you to at least that mark. Once you’re done, make sure to rinse it off with warm water to prevent it from getting tacky.
This natural lubricant uses water and aloe bases that’re safe for latex condoms as well as most silicone sex toys. It’s also hitting some wellness goals since it’s infused with organic ingredients like hemp, mushroom, and quinoa to leave your sexy parts exactly how you want them to be. Natural Sex Lube also comes with a pump dispenser, which takes the guesswork out of the application—and it’s unique because it’s one of only a few FDA-approved lubricants.
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