Lube Lessons 4: Picking the Perfect Lube for Your Body
By: Rebecca Pinette-Dorin
HEALTH CHECK: BECOME A LUBE PRO!Not all lubes are right for all bodies. What may be a great lube for your best friend could be not so great for you.
And maybe you’ve tried lube after lube and they all seem the same?
A little-known fact is that most of the lubes for sale in the US are formulated and bottled by the same handful of manufacturers. The bottle and the branding are different, but the ingredients might be exactly the same as that last lube you did not really enjoy.
And there are some not-so-great lube ingredients out there that you might want to avoid, regardless!
HOW CAN YOU BEST PROTECT YOURSELF AND YOUR LADY BITS?
Well, before you buy a lube, read the ingredients, (Seriously! READ THE INGREDIENTS!) and follow these four easy lube buying rules:
- If you’re buying off the web and you can’t find the ingredient list – don’t buy that lube!
- Don’t buy any lube that has ingredients you wouldn’t want in your body. The inner walls of vaginas and colons absorb everything!
- If you are sensitive to allergens, pay attention to ingredients that might cause allergic reactions, like fancy botanicals.
- If you are prone to yeast infections, pay attention to ingredients that raise osmolality (like propylene glycol or propanediol).
THE DEVIL IS IN THE INGREDIENTS: A QUICK PRIMER ON HOW TO READ AN INGREDIENT LIST.
A general rule of thumb is the following:
Ingredients are REQUIRED to be listed in decreasing order. In other words, the majority of what is in your tube/bottle/tub is whatever is listed first.
Usually, the first and second ingredients make up 90-98% of the volume. The rest of the ingredients are added in minute quantities.
Potassium sorbate, a common artificial preservative, is caustic and can cause skin irritation in large quantities, but in volumes, up to 0.5% it is totally innocuous. When it is listed as one of the last ingredients- no need to worry.
Propylene glycol is also fine in small quantities. Anything below 5% should not raise your lubricants osmolality to dangerous levels, but if you see it as the first or second ingredient in your lubricant, you should definitely take care!
I suggest you check your current lube against our glossary of common lube ingredients. Are you A-OK with all of those things being in your body or are there some nasty surprises? Might be time to try something new!
If you need to change lubes, or you buy a lubricant you don’t like, check out the ingredients before purchasing a new one and compare the old against the new. Are you buying something new? Remember, many lubricant brands are simply repackaging what another brand already sells.
Use our glossary to get a handle on what all of those complicated chemical and latin names mean. All good?
If you have sensitive skin you might want to avoid allergens, and menthol or mentholated ingredients.
A warning to those of you who do have problems with yeast infections:
If you are prone to yeast infections, you should pay attention special attention to the thickening agents being used.
High osmolality in a lube can cause dryness and irritation, not to mention a pH imbalance in the vagina. All of this can lead to yeast infections or worse, especially for those women who already have trouble with candida. This has been erroneously attributed to the use of glycerin in lubricants, when actually over-use of hyperosmolar ingredients like propylene glycol, PEG (polyethylene glycols) compounds or propanediol are more likely to be at fault.
For more about glycerin and osmolality, please check out our blog on the subject!
Lately, there has been a slew of “glycerin free” lubricants for sale aimed specifically at the market this misinformation has created. Read those ingredients! Some of these lubes have simply replaced the glycerin with propylene glycol- which actually raises osmolality more than glycerin!
I call this “the NO GLYCERIN Phenomenon” and I hope you will not fall prey to this sort of dirty marketing.
When in doubt, ask brands what their osmolality is, if it’s over 1200 mOsm/kg, which is the strict maximum allowed by the World Health Organization- do not buy that lube! And if you have problems with repetitive yeast infections- definitely go for a lube with an osmolality around 300 mOsm/kg or below like Good Clean Love, for example.
If a brand can’t tell you what their osmolality is, well, you should definitely take a pass. (Our own personal lubricants have an osmolality of around 600 mOsm/kg.)
Please check out our Glossary of Common Lube Ingredients!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Rebecca Pinette-Dorin is a writer, activist, business-woman and educator who has been working in the sex industry since 2004. Currently, she is the North-American Sales Manager for EXSENS. Learn more at: www.sexpositiverebecca.com
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