I love lube. To me, having sex without lube is like brushing your teeth with a dry toothbrush. It might get the job done, but the result is … sticky, kind of painful, and doesn’t leave you feeling refreshed. Lube is not an optional luxury that sits in the bedside drawer waiting for the “right moment.” Whether you are spending some intimate time with yourself, a partner, or many partners, an intimate lubricant should be involved.
No bedroom is complete without at least one or two varieties on hand, especially if you’re planning to use sex toys. (You should be using sex toys, but that’s another story.) As far as I’m concerned, lube is as essential for sex as condoms and clean hands. If I show up at someone’s house for a good time and there isn’t lube waiting on the nightstand, I’m heading out the door.
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No Lube, No Boob
I was surprised to learn that not everyone is with me on this. In the (albeit mostly queer and Pacific Northwestern) bedrooms I’ve been in, lube has been as common as bedsheets and tarot cards. If you haven’t tried lube before, or if you have some reservations, that’s probably not your fault. There are powerful forces working to convince you that you should be out there raw-dogging it. Dark forces, gathering in the night, who seek only to chafe your genitals.
One of these malicious creatures is misogyny—it tells us that using an intimate lubricant is somehow a failing; that needing it for sex is a failure on your part or your partner’s. It whispers: How dare you not get wetter; there must be something wrong with your body.
Another monster under the bed is machismo. It tells us that using lube means you’re a bad lover and that you’ve failed to get your partner excited. It’s all nonsense. There is nothing wrong with your body. There’s nothing wrong with your technique. Sometimes bodies don’t do what we want them to and, surprise, surprise, sometimes genitals don’t behave in the way that movies, TV, books, and porn tell us they should.
Pleasure Is Not the Enemy
What’s disheartening is that these attitudes continue to shape not only a popular opinion but medical research into sexual health. Most of the studies I looked into while researching this story focused on intimate lubricants focus on curing a problem. I found only one or two that even mention sexual pleasure, and one of those is a study about how few articles about sexual health mention sexual pleasure. It’s 2022, can we please quit pretending that people shouldn’t enjoy getting off? Or that sexual pleasure isn’t important? Because it is. Put that Plymouth-Rock-Puritanical-Hester-Prynne nonsense in the rearview.
Anyone who has ever touched themselves knows that having a little extra something (saliva, naturally occurring moisture, etc) makes it feel better. And feeling good is the whole point! Water-based or silicone-based lubes made from high-quality ingredients can be like rocket fuel for your sexual pleasure.
Not only do they prevent chafing (and microscopic tears) on the most sensitive parts of your body, but they make things feel so much better. Lube is like sexual MSG. It makes everything better, and some people are weirdly afraid of it.
Let’s Get Down to Business
OK, so where do you start? Easy peasy: Order yourself a bottle of any unscented, unflavored, glycerin-free, water-based lube. You don’t want any scent, because when you’re in the thick of it, it’s going to make things smell weird. (It’s the same deal with flavored lubes.) Ideally, you want lubes that have as few ingredients as possible. Keep it simple.
Brands like Sliquid fit the bill and feel great to use on any genitals, plus they’re inexpensive. In my experience, they can leave you feeling a little sticky afterward. For a more premium lube, I’d point you to ones from Maude or Dame. These lubes meet the above criteria but leave a nice clean finish and last a little longer when you’re using them.
The other major kind of lube you’ll encounter is silicone-based. These lubes are oil-based, meaning they last a lot longer than water-based lubes, as your body won’t absorb them as quickly; it makes them the most common choice for anal play and anal sex. However, they can interfere with vaginal flora, so it’s generally not advised to use them for vaginal play or vaginal sex.
There is also one other big caveat with silicone-based lubes: You can’t use them with silicone sex toys. Silicone lube can make silicone toys degrade over time. If you use silicone lube with a silicone toy, make sure you use a condom. My favorites here are from the same brands as above: Sliquid and Maude.
Other than that, my only remaining advice is this: Play! Play with yourself. Get a lube, set aside some time, grab a favorite toy, and go ham. The only way to learn how to use lubes is to use them, and the best way to practice is with yourself. Learn how well they apply, how much you like to use, and where the best place to store them is. Sex should be easy, be friction-free, and feel great—and a good lube will help with all three.
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