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Great Big Guide To Personal Lubricants

Why should I use personal lubricants?

Have you ever eaten a slice of delicious crusty bread without a good smearing of real butter? It’s not that you CAN’T eat that slice of bread, or that the bread is not enjoyable in itself, but you may feel that something is missing, or that it tastes just a little bland on its own. Using a good lubricant during any form of sexual play is like adding that butter to your slice of bread. The basic and fundamental feature that lubricants provide is a slickness that ensures a more comfortable and enjoyable experience. This can be invaluable in itself, but it doesn’t end there. Lubricants can also provide many different sensations. Read my guide to personal lubricants to find out everything you need to know.

The different types of lubricants available

Water Based:

A good bottle of water based lubricant should be the main stay in your toy box because they have many advantages and very few disadvantages. Water based lubricants, as the name suggests, are made using water as the base. Other ingredients are then added to produce a lubricant that has slickness and longevity.

  • When should you choose a water based lubricant:

Water based lubricants are the most versatile lubricants on the market, being suitable and safe to use for most types of sexual play, including vaginal, anal and oral sex. Water based lubricants are also safe to use with condoms and all types of sex toy materials. Water based lubes can vary a lot in viscosity. Due to the fact they are water based, the lubricant can be made thicker, or thinner, depending on how much water is used during manufacture, some are very runny and others are more gel-like.

  • When should I avoid Water Based Lubricants:

Water Based Lubricants are water soluble. (They dissolve and wash away very easily in water.) This makes them unsuitable for use in the bath or shower.

  • My most recommended water based lubricants:

Sliquid Sassy (My review) Sliquid Dude Lube H2O (Review coming soon.)

Silicone Lubricants:

  • When should you choose a Silicone based lubricant:

Silicone lubricants are the work horses of the lubricant family and they feel different compared to water based lubricants. Water based lubes feel more slippery whereas silicone based lubes feel more silky. Silicone lubricants form a water resistant layer of silky soft slickness onto the skin. Silicone does not get absorbed and it doesn’t evaporate ,or dry up, like water based lubricants do. This makes silicone lubricant one of the most long lasting lubricants available, ideal for longer sessions and for use during anal sex because the anus is not self lubricating, and having to stop often to reapply a water based lubricant can spoil the mood. Silicone lubricants are also ideal for use during intimate body massage, because they are generally safe to use in and around the vagina (Unlike oil.) and they are an ideal choice for playing in the bath or shower, as they do not dissolve in water. (You will need to use soap to break down, and wash away, silicone lubricants.) Silicone lubricants are latex compatible, so they can be used safely with condoms as well as shining latex clothing. Silicone lubricant can even be used as a metal lubricant, and adding a few drops to a squeaky door hinge will alleviate the problem. More cosmetic uses include using silicone lubricant for shaving and even rubbing a few drops into the tips of your hair for a glossy, frizz free look.

  • When should I avoid using a silicone lubricant:

Silicone lubricants should not be used with silicone sex toys because the lubricant can react with the material and cause your toy to become tacky at the surface. Silicone lubricant is, however, completely safe to use with glass, metal and ceramic sex toys. You will also want to avoid using silicone lubricant if you are wearing expensive clothing or have laid down your fancy bed sheets, because silicone stains. It will leave oily looking patches on your clothing , This brings me to my last point; Don’t use silicone lubricant if you are in a hurry. Silicone lubricant is water resistant and it requires soap to break it down and wash it away. This usually means a quick shower after use, to avoid staining your clothing or feeling slippery all day.

  • My most recommended silicone based lubricants:

Give Lube Premium Silicone (My review) Sliquid Silver (Review coming soon.)

Oil Based Lubricants:

  • When should I choose an Oil Based Lubricant:

The answer is ‘Not very often’ (See my next paragraph) However there are a few instances in which oil based lubricants are suitable, and these are for use during male masturbation, body massage (Avoiding female genitals) and anal sex.

  • When should I avoid oil based lubricants:

Oil based lubricants are not vagina friendly. They can change the PH levels inside the vagina, and because they tend to sit on top of the skin, without absorbing, they can trap and harbour bacteria that can lead to vaginal infections or UTIs. On top of this, oil based lubricants are not suitable for use with condoms, latex, diaphragms or rubber, because oil will weaken, and break down these materials. For similar reasons, oil based lubricants are also unsuitable for use with any rubber or silicone blended, jelly sex toys. They can cause damage to the surface of these materials, ultimately causing damage to the surface of the toy, leaving it feeling tacky.

  • My most recommended oil based lubricants:

Yes Oil Based Lubricant. (My review)

Hybrid Lubricants:

Hybrids are a blend of water based and silicone lubricant. Usually, roughly 90% water based and 10% silicone, with slight variations to those numbers.

  • When should I choose a Hybrid Lubricant:

If you prefer the slippery sensations that water based lubricants provide, but would prefer a lubricant that does not dry out as fast as pure water based lubricants do, then you can opt for a hybrid lubricant.

  • When should I avoid a hybrid lubricant:

Because hybrid lubricants do contain silicone (Roughly 10%) it is best to err on the side of caution and treat them in the same way as you would silicone lubricants. This means avoiding using them with silicone blended, or jelly sex toys, although you can always perform a small patch test to see if your lubricant and sex toy will react. Hybrid lubricants act most similarly to water based lubricants and as such, are almost as useless in the bath or shower, as 90% of the lubricant will dissolve.

My most recommended hybrid lubricants:

  • Sliquid Silk

Speciality Lubricants:

This category contains the lubricants that add a little something extra. There are so many different speciality lubricants available that you will be spoilt for choice:

Flavoured Lubricants:

Almost always water based, but occasionally oil based, these lubricants are ideal for oral sex. Flavoured lubricants come in so many weird and wonderful flavours choices, from fruit (Cherry, strawberry, apple) to sweet choices (Bubblegum, vanilla, chocolate, mint) to the more unusual (Bacon, whiskey). Sweeteners are often added and I recommend avoiding lubricants that are sweetened with aspartame. Another thing to bear in mind is that flavoured lubricants can often dry tacky, which is not pleasant, but there are a few good brands out there that produce pleasant tasting lubricants that do not dry into a sticky mess. Sliquid is a good example, as is Lovehoney’s own brand flavoured lubricants.

Warming and Cooling Lubricants:

These lubricants are usually water based and contain menthol, capsaicin or similar ingredients that leave a mild cooling or warming effect on the skin. Blowing onto the skin after these lubricants are applied also increases the effect. These lubricants are ideal for gentle sensory play and can feel good when applied to the nipples and genitals. Always check the ingredients though, to ensure you are not allergic to whichever ingredient is added. You can also purchase freezable lubricants, which, when placed into the freezer, will partially freeze into a loose slush and feel very cold when applied to the skin.

Realistic Lubricants:

Designed to look and feel similar to real semen, these lubricants are often creamy coloured, or opaque. They are usually water based, or hybrid lubricants. Some examples of realistic lubricants include Spunk Lube original, Liquid Silk and Bad Dragon Cum Lube

Coloured Lubricants:

From Glow in the dark, to baby pink. Coloured lubricants are designed to bring a little playfulness and fun into the bedroom. Some examples are Spunk Lube Pink and Cosmic Bear Lubricant.

Those are the main groups of personally lubricants available on the market at the moment. Now you have a better idea of which lubricant to choose to suit your personal needs, let’s have a look at some other things that need mentioning, like potentially nasty ingredients and what to avoid.

Ingredients to avoid:


Parabens are often used in cosmetic products as they act as a germicide, or preservative, giving each product a longer shelf life. However, parabens are not good for the body. Research suggests that parabens disrupt hormones (They mimic estrogens) and there have been studies that link parabens with cancer. High levels of parabens were found in breast cancer tissues and although this does not prove that parabens caused the cancer, it does show that the human body does not break down these chemicals. Further studies suggest that parabens decrease sperm count and cause foetal development issues and they are linked to allergies and rashes. Although there has been no conclusive proof yet, some countries are already banning the use of parabens in cosmetic and children’s products.

The most common parabens are Methylparaben, Ethylparaben, Propylparaben and Butylparaben. The mucous membranes in the vagina and anus are very good at absorbing these chemicals, so I would recommend avoiding lubricants which contain parabens if you are concerned. There are many paraben free lubricants on the market.

Glycerin (Also: Glycerine and Glycerol.)

This ingredient is used as a lubricator or lubricant and is often found in cheaper lubricants because it is a cheap ingredient. Glycerin is generally considered to be “not good” when used internally. The problem is that most research conflicts. Some argue that this ingredient can cause, or exacerbate, yeast infections, while other research suggests glycerin has no causal effect on yeast infections but it is bad because it causes mucus membranes to dry out, which could lead to other infections. Glycerine is used as a lubricant and can be found in many products. It is used in laxative suppositories, so avoiding it in lubricants intended for anal is a good idea too. Glycerine does not need to be added to personal lubricants. There are better, safer alternatives and good manufacturers use quality ingredients. Look for lubricants that do not contain glycerin.


This is an artificial sweetener and is often added to flavoured lubricants in particular. Lots of people report adverse reactions to this ingredient, including headaches, nausea, anxiety and more. Although this ingredient is FDA approved, it is still widely considered something that should be avoided. Look for lubricants that are sweetened using natural ingredients instead.

Lubricant brands I recommend

Consumers are becoming more aware and more demanding when it comes to things they put into their body and as such, more companies are springing up that are producing high quality, body safe lubricants. I am a huge fan of the Sliquid range. For the most part, they are free from all of the nasty chemicals listed above (Their flavoured lubricants do contain aspartame though.) and they are very good quality. Sliquid produce some of the most body safe products on the market. Another company that really cares about the customer is Yes. They have dedicated years of research into finding the most body safe, natural ingredients to use in their lubricant range.

Most of the lubricants mentioned in this post can be purchased here at Lovehoney.co.uk. Others mentioned, Give Lube, Spunk Lube and Bad Dragon

4 replies
  1. Candied Citrus
    Candied Citrus says:

    This is a really handy guide, and it’s just interesting to read through regardless, even if you’re not wanting or needing advice on lubricants. Absolutely wonderful – thank you! 🙂


Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] you still can’t decide, you should definitely check out Gritty Woman’s guide to personal lubricants. She’s another of our favourite sex toy bloggers, and like the people above she seriously […]

  2. […] may want to consider*. Read more about what you can expect from different lubes in this guide by Gritty Woman and this review by sex educator Carol […]

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