Heart of the Matter: The wonderful world of lubes, part one

Everyone, at some point in their life, will need to use lube.

There is no shame in using lube; it does not make you a failure, defective or anything other than human. It might be necessary as you approach menopause, go for a vaginal exam, begin taking a new medication, or simply because it feels good and you want to include it in your sex life.   

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There is a whole world of personal lubricants out there and sometimes it is hard to know where to even begin when choosing. Before I worked at a sex toy shop, I would buy whatever looked good on the shelf at the drugstore and hope for the best. Unfortunately, doing it that way, I rarely ended up with the best.

There was no knowledgeable staff member to tell me about the pros and cons of each lube and certainly no open tester bottles for feeling the different consistencies, tastes or scents. I had no idea what was best for me, so I was thrilled when I began learning what lubes were all about.

Finding the perfect lube can be a lot like finding the right pair of shoes; it is possible to have an everyday all-purpose sort of lubricant, but you will get the best out of your lubricant if you understand that not every lubricant is made for the same specific purpose. You could wear flips flops hiking, although it would likely not be the best choice for the chosen activity.  

There are three main categories of personal lubricants (or lubes, as I like to call them) and I am going to start with water-based lubes. There are a few important details to know when choosing a lubricant, so read on.

Water-based lubricant is the only lube compatible with any sort of soft material of sex toy such as silicone, jelly, elastomer and any other sort of realistic feeling material. Water-based lubricant can dry out after a little while, but can easily be revived by adding a bit more lube or saliva to what is already there.

A couple of ingredients I recommend avoiding in water-based lubricants are glycerin, parabens and propylene glycol.

Glycerine is sugar and sugar promotes yeast growth, and parabens and propylene glycol are preservatives that carry a whole gamut of health concerns ranging from skin irritation to cancer.

You can find water-based lubricants that are thinner and more natural feeling, these ones are generally better for vaginal penetration. You can also find water-based lubricants that are thicker, providing a bit more cushion. These ones are better for anal penetration or vaginas that need a little extra wetness.

Some water-based lubes feel stickier than others, some taste bitter and some are flavoured or even close to tasteless.

One of the really nice things about water-based lubes is you can easily clean it up with a warm cloth when you are all done and it will not stain sheets. The downsides are that they are not suitable for use in the shower or bath and they can dry up after a bit, however, it is a nice all-purpose lube that is compatible with all sex toys and many sexual activities.

To learn about the second category of lubes and what they are best used for, check back in two weeks.

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