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The Different Types of Lubricants

There are four kinds of lubricants: petroleum-based, water-based, silicone-based, and those based on natural oils. Each one has its own pros and cons, and so you pick which one works best for you.

There was a time when the only lubricant you could find was KY jelly, used by doctors to make their medical tests (usually involving cold, metal objects) less unpleasant. The first KY jelly was thick and sticky, making one feel a little like an over waxed car. Over the years, the formula has been improved, so it’s thinner, and leaves a rather nice, warm, toasty feeling. The advantage of KY jelly is that it’s cheaper and easy to find—in some far-flung, isolated places, you can’t get anything else.

Petroleum lubricants last longer, and are best for those who are looking at hours of stimulation (you sex machine, you!). Unfortunately they shouldn’t be used on anything made of latex and rubber. That includes condoms, diaphragms and cervical caps, and a couple of sex toys.

Water-based lubricants, on the other hand, are more versatile. You can safely use them on all types of sex toys, and are easier to wash or wipe off. Unfortunately they tend to dry out pretty quickly, and can feel more and more sticky as sex progresses. They’re also very affordable and fairly common. There are some water lubricants (like Astroglide) that claim to last longer, but be prepared to pay a little more. You can also buy flavored water-based lubricants which literally make oral sex a little sweeter.

The problem with water-based lubricants is that they’re useless in the shower or Jacuzzi—it just slides off. You’ll need mineral oil lubricants, which will stay wet even when you’re, uh, wet. Unfortunately medical circles are still debating on whether or not mineral lubes are safe on the vagina.

Silicone lubricants are the most recent addition to the lubricant family. They last longer and have a thinner consistently (you lose that yucky, greasy feeling). They’re pricey, but because you only need to use a small amount, some say you end up spending less in the long run. You can use them on latex and rubber (so yes, they work with condoms and diaphragms) but never apply silicone lubricants on silicone toys.

As if that’s not enough variety for you, there are “specialty” lubricants. You can find edible products that are, literally, good enough to eat—made of ingredients like olive oil or salads (South-Beach certified, if that means anything to you). They can damage condoms or anything made out of rubber or latex, but are thought to be more vagina-friendly than lubricants made of petroleum. They can also double as massage oils (rub it in, lick it off—how much better can it get?).








 



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