Personal lubricant

Personal lubricants are specialized lubricants which serve to reduce friction with the vagina, the anus, or other body parts. Personal lubricants were originally derived from surgical lubricants designed for use during medical procedures, but are now also used frequently to provide lubrication for sexual practices. Some of these lubricants are scented and/or flavoured. Popular personal lubricant brands include K-Y Jelly, Astroglide, Divine No. 9, EROS, Firefly, System JO,Sliquid, Durex PLAY, Felina Personal Lubricant, Maxoderm Connection, Triesco, Ready lube, Analeaze, ID, Wet, and Probe Personal Lubricant.

Lubricant types


Water-based personal lubricants are water soluble and are the most widely available personal lubricant on the market. The earliest water-based lubricants were cellulose or glycerin solutions. Lubricants containing glycerin may cause or exacerbate vaginal yeast infections in persons who are susceptible. Subsequent products have added various agents for spreading, water retention, and resistance to contamination. The viscosity of these products can be adjusted by adjusting their water content and concentration of cellulose (or another gel-forming hydrophilic ingredient). They have a tendency to dry out during use, but reapplication is often sufficient to re-activate them.

Because water-based personal lubricants absorb into the skin and evaporate they eventually will dry out leaving the residue derived from the other ingredients in the formulation. Particularly sugar (or glycerin) and other chemicals and preservatives create a sticky residue and associated sensation, often associated with an unpleasant taste and smell. Some of these water based personal lubricants require constant reapplication and leave a residue on the skin which however is easily removed with water. Newer generation water-based lubricants are formulated with natural skin moisturizers such as carrageenan, eliminating the sticky residue post-evaporation. Carrageenan in some formulations such as Divine No. 9 and Bioglide have been shown to be potent inhibitors of human papillomavirus infection in vitro.

Typical water-based lubricants are incompatible with many sex acts that occur in water (such as in a bathtub or hot tub) as they can be dissolved or dispersed in water.

One of the least expensive lubricants is a concentrate known as J-Lube. It is used as a veterinary lubricant and special-effects slime ingredient. J-Lube is sometimes used as a sexual lubricant, especially in some sexual sub-communities. It is usually purchased as a powder, which consists of polyethylene oxide mixed with sucrose as a dispersing agent, and produces an extremely slippery lubricant when mixed with water.


Unlike water-based lubricants, oil-based lubricants, such as Vaseline, dissolve latex and are likely to reduce the effectiveness of latex condoms as a contraceptive and protection against sexually transmitted diseases. (Synthetic oil-based lubricants can only safely be used for anal sex if the participants are STD-negative; even then, condom-protected sex may not be "safe sex" for days afterwards, as the oil-based lubricant has a tendency to linger in the anus.)

Although petroleum jelly (e.g. Vaseline) is inexpensive and readily available, it can often be difficult to clean off the body after sexual activity, due to the fact that it is not water soluble and coats the skin. Clear, bottled mineral oil (commonly used as an oral laxative), or baby oil, is a less viscous alternative to petroleum jelly and is easier to wash off the skin. These are still synthetic petroleum based products and can cause skin irritation.

Plant-based oils

One might also consider a vegetable oil like rice bran oil or coconut oil, if the aroma is amenable to the persons involved. The smell of olive oil may be preferred. If no scent is desired vegetable shortening, such as Crisco which is odorless, can also be used. Such harder oils such as coconut oil and shortening have the added benefit of being durable as a lubricant even during vigorous sexual activity such as fisting. Improvised lubricants may cultivate pathogens, especially if used as foods. More details are in other sections.

Medicinal Castor oil was the original plant-based surgical lubricant. Many other natural plant-based fats, such as Coconut oil or Cocoa butter, may be used as well.


Silicone-based lubricants possess many unique qualities which make them very different from other personal lubricants. Silicone based personal lubricants do not absorb into the skin, instead staying on the surface of the skin to provide a durable glide. Various products have varying characteristics, quality and performance.

Not all silicone-based lubricants are certified condom and latex safe, always check the label and use as directed. Silicone based personal lubricants come in a variety of consistencies.

Silicone-based lubricants are not recommended for use with silicone-based sex toys. The lubricants dissolve the surface of the toys, making them sticky and causing them to slowly disintegrate. Pre-lubricated condoms may use a silicone lubricant and should therefore be checked before using with silicone-based sex toys.

Popular brands include Gun Oil, Swiss Navy, ID Millennium, Eros, Sliquid Silver, Wet Platinum, DeGLOW, and Liquid Silk.

Specialty lubricants

"Specialty" lubricants are designed to cause physiological or physical changes to the area applied; these include warming lubricants, which cause a heating sensation in the skin. Breathing on these types of lubricants can increase the effect. Another type of specialty lubricant can increase blood flow to the regions in which they are applied, creating a fuller erection of the penis or clitoris; these may contain vasodilators to theoretically increase blood flow after topical application, products that include L-Arginine can cause herpes outbreaks. Others include flavored lubricants.

Popular brands include ID Lubricants, Firefly Natural Lubricant, Wet fun flavors, O'My, Sliquid, KY Jelly (warming lubricant), and Thermal warming lubricant (with the vasodilator L-arginine).

Alternative lubricants

Other substances improvised as sexual lubricants:

Improvised Lubricant Type Notes
Saliva Water-based 98% water. May contain irritating levels of acidic electrolytes & gastric juices.
Vegetable gums >95% water + vegetable gum (eg. Xanthan gum), edible. Most commercial lubricants contain some type of gum, although almost all are synthetically derived like Xanthan gum or hydroxethyl cellulose.
Egg white 83% water, 10% protein & <7% fat (Pathogen content depends on the farm(s), transportation & supermarket).
Banana filling Oil and/orWater-based var.% water. May contain dehydrating levels of sugars/salts, and irritating levels of allergens & acids (citric acid, ascorbic acid) etc. (Pathogen content depends on the farm(s), transportation, supermarket, & kitchen).
Pie filling
moisturizing body Lotion Oil-based Any medication content can cause harmful side-effects .
Mineral oil If used orally, should be swallowed with care as it is a laxative within 6 hours, and is easily aspirated into the lungs where it can cause lipoid pneumonia.
Cooking oil As above, can increase your risk of bacterial infection (eg.dipping fingers into the container will cause contamination and cultivation)
Butter Fairly slippery, but oily. Not usually toxic if fresh. Will support some micro-organisms.



In medicine, personal lubricants such as K-Y Jelly, Astroglide or Probe Personal Lubricant can be used for gynecological examinations, digital rectal examinations, and in the use of enema nozzles and rectal thermometers. In fact, some personal lubricants were invented for these medical uses.

Sexual intercourse

A lubricant can be used to increase pleasure or reduce pain during sexual activity and may be used for lubricating the penis or dildo or the vagina or anus before sexual intercourse. Personal lubricants are particularly useful for anal sex, vaginal intercourse when the woman experiences vaginal dryness, and vaginal intercourse when the woman's vagina is contracted. It is generally sufficient to apply a good drop of gel on the vaginal entrance; anal sex usually requires a more generous application, since the anus does not contain any natural lubrication. There are also available combinations of personal lubricants with spermicides. Nonoxyol-9 is in spermicidal lubricants and is not recommended as it can severly irritate the vagina.


Males and females masturbate differently. While males do produce a lubricating fluid (Cowper's fluid), the informal name for this fluid, "pre-come" or "pre-cum", already indicates that this may often be released only relatively shortly before orgasm or after intense manual stimulation. The use of lubricant is more common for circumcised men. A lubricant may be used to facilitate the use of certain sex toys, or with females as part of prolonged clitoral stimulation.

Dry penis masturbation

Small amount of moisture tends to make skin stickier and weaker. Occasionally the skin of the head may peel from masturbation (and other stresses). Rather than using a fluid lubricant to masturbate the penis, some use dry masturbation techniques aided by: tissue, soft/silky fabrics, (edible) powders, or sex toys.


Silicone based lubricants are best for massage because they don't dry out and leave skin silky smooth when washed off.Cooking oils may irritate the skin. Planning may be necessary to keep oil off latex condoms and sex toys, and absorptive furniture.


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