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Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Personal Lubricants

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Lubrication minimizes friction, which minimizes condom breaks, and membrane ruptures. Even when using condoms, those ruptures contribute to the spreading of HIV and other STD’s, not to mention other bacterial or yeast infections. Additionally, lubrication may add comfort or pleasure.

But not all personal lubricants are alike. Let’s break ‘em all down into 4 main categories


Water-Based Lube

Even the most lube unaware persons know the brand name K-Y.

K-Y Jelly is available in most drugstores and pharmaceutical departments of super stores like Walmart or Kmart. Additionally, you’ve probably seen a tube of this stuff at your doctor’s office or your veterinarian’s office. Any guy who’s had a prostate exam and any woman who’s had a gynelogical appointment has most likely had a K-Y experience.

K-Y Brand, and other water-soluble types of lubes are safe for use with condoms, as no ingredients used cause the break down of the condom. Since they were the earliest ones on the market more people have experience with this type of lubricant than the newer ones.

Whether you’ve used it, or just have some doctor office knowledge of it, you probably noticed it washes off easily. Water soluble is water dissolvable. Try to use K-Y in the pool and you’ll see what I’m talking about.

And it’s a good thing it washes away so easily, because it’s sticky. Your skin and membranes absorb the lube, leaving behind a film that’s sticky and irritating. If you’re using a water based lubricant, keep the dispenser handy because you’ll most likely be reapplying regularly.


Petroleum-Based Lubricants

There are products on the market specifically made to be used as personal lubricants that are petroleum based. But there are also some old stand-by products you could use as well. You probably have one of these in your medicine cabinet right now. Vaseline is the most common one of these. Baby oil is also a petroleum-based lubricant. The big thing you need to know about oil-based lube is that it breaks down latex. Therefore, you can’t use any petroleum-based lube while you’re using condoms, diaphragms, or any latex toys. This means, if you’re using condoms they will not be effective for STD control or birth control if you use an oil-based lube.

If you’ve ever gotten a little Vaseline on your fingers, you may already realize how difficult it is to wash off. So when you’re using oil-based lube, usually one application is enough since the skin doesn’t absorb it.

Silicone-Based Lubricant

Newer to the marketplace is the vast assortment of silicone-based lubes. Unlike sticky K-Y, they are not absorbed into the skin. These products are actually designed with the acts in mind, and therefore perform their specific tasks well, remaining slippery and gliding, and enduring for a good length of time

Most silicone lubes are safe for use with latex. In researching this Hub, I found a couple articles that stated not all silicone lubes are safe for use with latex. I have read many tubes, pumps, and bottles and haven’t found one that isn’t. But why take a chance. If you decide to use condoms make sure your silicone-based lube actually states that it is safe for use with condoms. All of the good ones out there actually state it right on their labels. Silicone lube is suggested for people that tend to get irritated or have allergic reactions to other types of lubricant. Since it is water-resistant, this is a good choice for pool or hot-tub play. However, it is difficult to launder out of your clothes or linens since the water in the wash doesn’t penetrate.Eros, Pink, Probe, System JO, Sliquid, Gun Oil, and Durex are some brand names that offer a silicone-based personal lubricant. K-Y Brand, Platinum, Liquid Silk, and my personal favorite, Astroglide, also offer some silicone lube products.

Silicone can’t be used with silicone. So, you can’t use a silicone lubricant on a silicone toy product. It will actually cause the toy to break down. Pretty grody.

Other Lubricants

You might come across some products while lubricant shopping that do not fall under any of the above categories.

Some product lines that claim to be all natural are Emerita, and Divine. Some brands offer an all natural formula, such as O’My and Sliquid. Most of these claim to be non-toxic, non-staining, and latex-friendly. As for use with silicone toys, you should read the label. Ride, for example, states right on the label not for use with silicone. Divine No 9, for another example, doesn’t say one way or the other. (The label also doesn’t warn you that is stinks, and gets sticky pretty fast.)

It’s best to make no assumptions. If the label doesn’t specifically answer your question, don’t take any chances.

Something else you may come across are lubricants that are specifically designed with a flavor, or a smell, or a sensation like warming, cooling, or tingling. These are really hit and miss. You may want to try one for fun. Durex makes a freezable Lube Cube that’s a lot of fun. Astroglide makes a superb warming lube that’s subtle. And then there’s the KY Touch Massage 2 in 1 Warming Body Massage and Lubricant Variety Pack that will make you think you set yourself on fire.

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Read the Label

Make sure no matter what you are using that it is compatible for exactly what you are using it for, and what you are using it with. Read the label. Assume nothing. Your choices have come a long way from the days of K-Y or Vaseline. Online shoppings offers you the benefit of customer reviews and doing a little research on any given brand or product, not to mention privacy.

Be safe. Have fun.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.


Kevin Hemminger from Philippines on February 20, 2010:

Thanks for this excellent resource, it is much appreciated!

Scarlett Black from New York on October 25, 2009:

Nicely done! Great topic.

Veronica (author) from NY on May 23, 2009:


OrgName: Asia Pacific Network Information Centre OrgID: APNICAddress: PO Box 2131City: MiltonStateProv: QLDPostalCode: 4064Country: AU

Veronica (author) from NY on April 03, 2009:

Kaye kaye,

From what I understand, PDI lubricating jelly is sterile, water soluble, and very similar to basic K-Y, just a different brand.

Before using it, if I were you, I would call my gynecologist and make double sure first. There's no going back if you use something that is problematic. No online advice column should EV-AH take the place of real first hand medical advice. Call your doc and ask. Keep us posted.

You have my curiosity peeked. Why is it that you want to use a catheterization lubricant for intercourse? What's going on there?

kaye kaye on April 03, 2009:

i have a question..i don't really use lubes..but i want to know if i can use PDI lubricating gel for's water.based but it's for catheterization and specula says in the label..

dedo on July 29, 2008:

it is a great matter to discuss guys there

Goodwitch on July 28, 2008:

I love the fact that you address topics that may be very embarrassing for people to ask about. All of this is important information but very rarely shared! I personally find the item reviews from online stores critical when shopping for new items. Thank you once again!

Veronica (author) from NY on July 26, 2008:

Thanks for commenting Barry. I totally agree. :)

Barry Rutherford from Queensland Australia on July 26, 2008:

lubricant really is essential even more so using a condoom for both please & the other things which you mentioned...

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