The Different Types of Lube

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The Different Types of Lube


There are many, many ways in which lube can be beneficial to your sexual experience(s). From making all kinds of penetration more comfortable to delivering next-level pleasure, lube is seriously a must for any nightstand. That said, shopping for the best lube for you -- especially for the first time-- can be a little overwhelming. There are hundreds of brands and formulas, not to mention the fact that there are a whole bunch of different types of lube. Water based, oil based, silicone, flavored, and hybrid, oh my! So what are these different types of lube, what do they do, and which do you want? 

Today, we’re going to take a look at five different types of lube including the pros and cons of each. We’ll also talk about what each can be used for because, while you probably could select one type and use it for everything (looking at you, water-based!) diversifying your lube collection can be an easy, fun, sensually slippery way to up the pleasure factor in the bedroom/living room/kitchen/backseat. So, let’s get down to it, let’s talk lube!


What is lube?

Okay, so what even is lube? Well, first of all, “lube” is a nickname that we use to refer to lubricant. In this case it specifically refers to personal lubricants used for sexual comfort and pleasure. 

Now you may be wondering, how to use lubeLube can be used during any type of sexual contact from penis-in-vagina intercourse, to hand jobs, to anal play, to oral sex. If you’re getting sexy, there’s a good chance adding lube could make the experience even better. 

I know lots of folks struggle with the idea of using lube because they believe vaginas “should” self-lubricate. Now, while many vaginas do have a lubricating capability, it can ebb and flow based on various circumstances. Some folks might find their vagina never creates quite enough lubrication. This is all totally common. Using lube, especially for sex play that involves a vagina, is not some kind of failure, it’s just a way to prevent vaginal dryness and ensure your sexual encounter is as comfortable and pleasurable as it could possibly be. 

So, now that we know what lube is and why one might choose to use it, let’s break down the different types of lube!



The most versatile, readily-available, affordable, perennially popular lube is water-based lube. Safe for use with all barrier methods as well as toys, water-based lube comes in a variety of textures ranging from light and thin to thick and cushiony, it also washes off easily and doesn’t stain sheets. Who could ask for anything more?

Well, there is one big drawback to water based lube -- it’s often not terribly long-lasting (though longevity can vary brand to brand and formula to formula). As it is water based, it can dry out when exposed to air or friction meaning you may have to reapply repeatedly during sexual activity

What is it good for? Just about everything with the possible exception of shower sex, where a water based lubricant would be washed away.

You’ve got lots of options when it comes to water based lubes. PinkCherry Water Based Lubricant and PinkCherry Water Based Anal Lubricant are both great options. 



So, oil based lube tends to not get all the love it should mostly because it comes with considerable downsides: It’s not compatible with latex or polyisoprene condoms, many kinds can trigger yeast infections, and it will stain the bejesus out of your sheets. But hear me out, there are also some contexts in which oil based lube is an amazing idea. 

Anal play with toys, hands, or fluid-bonded partners are all terrific times to break out some oil based lube. Why? Because it’s thick and creamy and it lasts and lasts which is particularly important because the anus does not self-lubricate. Additionally it can be a game-changer when it comes to manual stimulation of a penis. 

What is it good for? Anal play with toys and handjobs are both places where oil based lube really shines.

Don’t overlook this super-slick, long-lasting lube. It’s not a jack-of-all-trades like water based lube but an oil based lube like Wicked Créme or Anal Lube may still be a worthwhile addition to your lube collection 



Silicone lube has a LOT going for it. First off, it is a total workhorse. Because silicone is not water soluble, like the Energizer Bunny of lube, it keeps going and going without needing to reapply PLUS it’s ideal for times when you might be exposed to water - hello shower sex! Additionally, silicone lube is hypoallergenic and therefore the best lube for sensitive skin. Finally, silicone lube is compatible with all condoms. 

BONUS: silicone based lubricant is a multi-use product! It can be used to style your hair, prevent thigh chafing, even fix a sticking lock! It truly is a miracle product.

So, are there ANY downsides to silicone lube? Sadly, yes. Silicone lubricant can cause deterioration of silicone toys. This is not universally true as some high quality silicone lubes and pure silicone toys can play well together. If you want to use silicone lube with a silicone toy, conduct a patch test by applying a drop of the lubricant to the base of the toy to see if it affects the silicone. Additionally, because silicone lube is not water soluble, it does legitimately need to be washed off with soap and water, thus you may want to skip it if you can’t shower afterwards.

One last thing: while silicone lubes are super slick and long lasting some folks find them a bit thin. This is why it can be a good idea to layer your lubes. Apply some silicone lube and then layer a thick water based lube on top of it. This gives you the cushiony feel of water based lube and when that dries out you still have the glide of the silicone. 

What is it good for? Everything except playing with silicone toys where it might degrade the surface of your silicone dildo, vibrator, or butt plug. 

If you want to give silicone lube a try (and I strongly recommend you do!) check out PinkCherry Premium Silicone Lubricant


Flavored lube tends to be treated as something of a novelty product but that’s no reason to not take it seriously! These days flavored lubes are widely available and come in a huge range of flavors, everything from cherry to coffee to bacon! So, what would you do with a flavored lube? 

So, the short answer is, use it during oral sex. The longer answer comes with a big caveat and here it is: there’s nothing wrong with how bodies naturally taste. That said it can be fun to lick something yummy off of your partner’s body. Using flavored lube is the same idea as incorporating chocolate sauce or whipped cream into your sex, just with way less mess. 

Flavored lubricants are typically water based and mostly recommended for external use as the sugars in them can be irritating to a vagina or anus. They make a super fun addition to oral sex and who doesn’t want to have more fun?!

What is it good for? Any time you want to add a little flavor, particularly fellatio, cunnilingus, or analingus.

There are a LOT of flavored lubes out there. If you are flavored lube curious but don’t know where to start, I recommend checking out Wicked’s huge line of flavored lubes. From old standbys to funky seasonal flavors, they really have something for everyone. 


Hybrid Lubes

When it comes to lube functionality, hybrid lubes are the best of two worlds: Water based lube and silicone lube. They combine the versatility of water based lube with the ability to last and last that you get from a silicone lube. Hybrid lube is water based lube with a small amount of silicone in it. Hybrid lubes are condom compatible and, because they contain such a small amount of silicone, they can be used with silicone toys without fear of damaging them (though, if you are concerned, just do a quick patch test like we described in the Silicone Lube section). Additionally, hybrid lubes are easy to clean up  and typically have a smooth, creamy texture that many find enjoyable. 

What is it good for? Really? Most everything. Some folks might want something thicker for stuff like anal play but there’s not really a context in which I would tell you that hybrid lube isn’t a good idea. 

If you would rather have just one lube in your nightstand, this sex writer votes to make it a hybrid like Sliquid Silk

So there you have it, the world of lube is huge and full of options but once you know what’s what choosing your lube can stop being stressful and start being about customizing your ideal sexual experience! If you are ready to stock up on the slick stuff or are in the market for new sex toys, head on over to PinkCherry! They’ve got all the adult sex toys and lube you need to level up your sex game!


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Written By: JoEllen Notte

JoEllen Notte is a writer, speaker, sex educator, and mental health advocate whose work explores the impact of depression on sex and relationships. Since 2012 she has written about sex, mental health, and how none of us are broken on her award-winning site The Redhead Bedhead as well as for Glamour, The BBC, Bitch, PsychCentral, and more. JoEllen is the author of The Monster Under the Bed: Sex, Depression, and the Conversations We Aren’t Having.