Certain lubricant ingredients and their effects may shock you.
When you shop for groceries, you look for specific indicators on food labels to make sure you’re making the best selection. Words like “organic,” “natural,” or “vegan” might perk your interest and make you feel better about choosing certain products. It makes sense that when shopping for personal lubricant, you’d use similar markers. If you don’t want certain harmful ingredients inside your body, why would you want them on your body? Especially when the skin absorbs whatever you put on it. That’s why it’s essential to know the ingredients that make up your lubricant and why you should always look for a high-quality natural, vegan and organic lubricant.
Why Use Lube in the First Place?
There’s a common misconception that people use lube to fix a problem. In actuality, bringing lube into the bedroom can enhance and intensify sexual experiences, whether through solo-play, partnered intercourse, or with sex toys. That is, of course, when you choose a lube without harmful ingredients and could potentially have some nasty side effects. Before making things more tantalizing in the sheets, it’s crucial to get the low-down on lube.
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Safety in Ingredients
The number one priority before having sex, either partnered or solo, should always be safety. Some safety protocols to establish are boundaries, consent, emotional safety, and safe sex. So why talk about sexual safety when speaking about lube? Some ingredients in commercially available lubes are unsafe and can cause inflammation or infections. It’s imperative to find a lube with kind ingredients before having fun.
Veganism: It’s for the Animals and Better for Your Genitals (When It Comes to Lube, Anyway)
New studies suggest that veganism (abstaining from eating animals or animal byproducts) might be better for your health as well as help animals and the environment, but how do vegan ingredients benefit your lube?
You might be surprised to know that an ingredient in many lubes, glycerin, comes from animal fat. Glycerin retains moisture and is a common ingredient in both warming and flavored lubes. Because of this property, glycerin stays around for longer, which sounds like an appealing quality in lube, but not for vaginal health. Glycerin is a sugar alcohol and can serve as food for microbes. If you think that glycerin sounds like a breeding ground for yeast and UTIs, you’re right.
By choosing a vegan lube, you won’t just spare an animal but can avoid an uncomfortable yeast infection or UTI. Also, you can rest assured knowing you aren’t rubbing an ingredient that comes from animal fat on your genitals. Unless that’s your thing.
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Oil-Based, Water-Based, Silicon, Which to Choose?!
There are three main kinds of lubricants to choose from: oil-based, water-based, and silicon. Here’s a rule of thumb about them that anyone should know before making a purchase.
Oil-based lubes can degrade latex, aka making your safe sex not so safe. Never choose an oil-based lube when using latex condoms. Oil also stains and sticks around way longer than it’s supposed to (read: yeast infection).
Silicone lubricants can damage silicone sex toys. Like oil-based lubes, they don’t wash off as easily, potentially causing yeast infections and staining the sheets and even hardwood floors!
Water-based lube is safe to use with sex toys and condoms. Water-based lubes tend to be more gentle on the skin and wash off easily. Because of this, there’s less of a cause for concern about yeast infections.
What’s the Deal With DIY Lubes?
With all of this knowledge, wouldn’t it be easier to make a homemade lube? Or find something around the house that works to decrease friction in the same way? While it may seem like the easy thing to do when searching for a lube, there are a few cautions to heed if you’re going the at-home route.
A common at-home fix for lube is coconut and olive oil. There is some debate about whether coconut oil, because of its antibacterial properties, can cause yeast infections. Because of this, it might not be the best choice for someone prone to getting them.
Another point to consider is that because coconut oil and olive oil are oil-based, they cannot be used with latex condoms. Like other oil-based lubes, they also stain sheets and can be difficult to remove.
Other household products like petroleum jelly or baby oil can cause inflammation or vaginal infections and should never be used as lube.
Sperm-Friendly and Spermicide-Free Lube
Certain lubricants interfere with sperm, so it’s essential to make sure your ingredients are safe, especially if you are trying to get pregnant. Common ingredients in lube such as petroleum, propylene glycol, glycerin, parabens, silicone, and Nonoxynol-9 can affect sperm motility or how fast sperm travels.
Is Organic Truly Better?
In general, a natural, vegan, and organic lube will have fewer harmful additives or synthetic chemicals such as parabens. Parabens can cause genital rashes, and some studies have linked them to fertility problems. They also act as endocrine disruptors.
If you see a lubricant listed as organic with some non-organic ingredients, that product has passed a compliance test saying that the ingredients used won’t be harmful. Organic ingredients have fewer chemicals. They also do less harm. When it comes to putting something on your genitals, you want a product you can trust will be safe during and post-usage.
When shopping for a natural, vegan, and organic lube, just as you would while reading ingredients at the grocery store, look for ingredients that sound like ingredients, not chemicals or words you can’t pronounce. Another guideline is to look for fewer ingredients which ensures a more natural lube.