So you've decided to invest in personal lubricant. Congratulations! Lubricant can help you level up your health and pleasure practices. It helps to prevent friction and dryness, which in turn helps prevent micro-tears and abrasions. Plus a lotta sex feels better wetter. And it's especially important for sex with areas of the body that are not naturally lubricating themselves.
We're going to keep it simple in this guide, but you can find specific ingredients or details for individual lubricants on their product pages. For now though, let's break it down into four categories of lubricant: water-based, silicone, oil and hybrid.
Water-based lube is your basic all-rounder, but it's important to note that not all water-based lubricants are created equal - or even for the same purpose. Did you know KY Jelly is a surgical lubricant that was re-purposed for sexual use? It's true!
KY Jelly was never designed to be used regularly or tested for sexual use, and it isn't really suited for this. Lubricants that play best with genitals are iso-osmotic, which just means their osmolality is comparable to your body's osmolality levels. KY Jelly, for instance, is about eight times higher than that. But this provided an opportunity for personal lubricants that were created with sex and pleasure in mind, and we're pleased to carry some of the best lubes around.
Water-based lubricant is comprised primarily of, you guessed it, water! Manufacturers then add a range of other ingredients to create their specific lubricant blends. Common base ingredients are glycerine, cellulose and aloe.
Here at Nikki Darling, you won't find any lubricants that contain glycerine, due to it being a one-way ticket to thrush town for many bodies (it's a sugar). You will find water-based lubricants that use cellulose and/or aloe though, as these are low-irritant ingredients that most bodies respond well to.
Other ingredients are added to create varying levels of viscosity, to add more moisturising properties, to give it a thrilling tingle or simply to preserve the lubricant and ensure it has a long and stable shelf-life. More information on specific ingredients can be found in our ingredients guide.
Water-based lubricant tends to be the most affordable on the market, and when we call it an all-rounder, we mean it! Water-based lubes will generally play well with all barrier protection materials, toy materials, is easy to clean up and will wash right out of those sheets and clothes. It can be used for all forms of sex, and is particularly good for vaginal sex. It is hydrating and moisturising, and blends well with the body's natural lubrication.
One downside to water-based lube is that it can dry up more readily than other types of lube, as it absorbs into the skin or simply evaporates (it is mostly water, after all). You can extend the life of the product by adding some water or saliva to 'bounce' it back to life, but you may still find that you go through water-based lubricant more quickly than silicone or oil.
The most basic, straightforward water-based lubricant in our range is Sliquid H2O, and if you aren't sure where to start - we'd suggest this!
Silicone lubricant is usually comprised of pharmaceutical-grade liquid silicones (silicone oil) such as Dimethicone, Dimethiconol and Cyclopentasiloxane.
Silicone lubricant tends to have a low viscosity and will glide effortlessly for hours. The price tag may seem high compared to water-based lubricants, but because they tend to last a lot longer, you'll need less of it. Unlike water-based lubricant which is absorbed into the skin, silicone will stay on the skin's surface. This is why it can last longer before reapplication is required. It’s also what makes it totally waterproof - perfect for use in the shower or bath.
Silicone lubricant will get along with all STI prevention barrier protection materials. When you buy a pre-lubricated condom (such as the Glyde range we stock), you'll find that the lubricant is usually silicone. It has a long-shelf life and is stable without the use of preservatives, which makes it perfect for pre-lubrication.
Now, the downside. Silicone lubricant can potentially degrade silicone sex toys and other silicone products (such as the Caya diaphragm). Most manufacturers will ask that you use a water-based lubricant with silicone products. If you are adamant that you use a silicone lubricant with a silicone toy, we would encourage you to do some patch testing on the base of the toy first and then proceed at your own risk.
It can also be a bit tricky to clean up, but not impossible. A good scrub with some soap and water should remove the bulk of it from your body, or you can use a cleaning spray or wipe if you prefer. For accidents on clothing or sheets, treat it like you would an oil or grease stain.
We really love Pjur and Uberlube, but Uberlube's clever packaging and pump dispenser design win us over every time.
The least common commercial lubricant, oil-based lubricants are derived from plants or are by-products of industry. We do not recommend nor sell any oil-based lubricant that isn't plant-derived. Please do not use products like Vaseline for sex - they aren't designed for internal use.
Oil-based lubricants are popular with folk who like to keep things really natural. If you want to keep it super basic, a quality coconut oil can be used for lubrication. If you want to use something designed for purpose, there are a few good oil-based lubes on the market.
Oil warms and melts with contact, is pleasantly slippery, and can take you straight from external massage to internal massage (or other kinds of penetrative play).
Unfortunately, oil and most barrier protection materials do not play well together. You'll need to do your due diligence if you are using an oil-based lube and also need to use condoms, dams or gloves. Stick to polyurethane or nitrile barriers if you are using oil.
We don't stock a lot of oil-based lubes, but if you are keen to try one, we recommend starting with Yes OB.
Hybrid lubricants are, you guessed it, a hybrid of two or more lubricant types. The most common is silicone and water. Why would anyone want this, you may wonder? Hybrid lubes, when done right, can give you the best of both worlds.
All the ease of use and cleaning that water-based lubes provide, with just enough silicone in the mix to keep it going longer than a straight water-based lubricant would. The consistency of a quality hybrid lube should be creamy and smooth, without being tacky.
Hybrid lubricants with low silicone content may be safe with silicone toys, but we recommend you patch test and be mindful of manufacturer warranties.