You’re not born knowing how to use lube, and it’s not always a topic covered in sex ed, so it’s more than fair if you’re not ~exactly~ sure what to do when you get your hands on a bottle. And, while you probably have a general idea of what to do with it, you might be missing out on some of the added perks it can offer you (and your sex life).
Before we get into all that, just know this: There’s really no wrong way to use lube. “Like all things sexual, use lube in whatever way feels good for you,” says sexologist Jess O’Reilly Ph.D., host of the Mind Blowing Oral video courses. If you focus on your own pleasure, using lube can become second nature, she says.
“We often say, ‘the wetter the better,’ but that may not apply to all types of sex,” O’Reilly says. While plenty of lube can be a great accessory for penetrative sex, she says it might be better in small amounts—like, only a few drops—for non-penetrative sex.
But knowing how much lube to use is only part of the picture. O’Reilly says there’s a huge range of options, including plenty you’ve probably never even considered, like using lube in the shower or making your oral experience next-level. And, of course, the type of lube you reach for matters. “There are many types of lube and often, the use can help determine which ones are best for that person,” says women’s health expert Jessica Shepherd, MD, founder of Sanctum Med + Wellness.
Consider this your guide to all things lube.
Ah, there are SO many kinds out there. Which type of lube should I buy?
Not all lubes are created equal, and the right one for you depends a lot on your personal preferences and needs. Here’s a breakdown of your options:
- Water-based lube: The first, most prominent ingredient in these lubes is going to be water (go figure). “They are less sticky,” Dr. Shepherd says. However, she adds, they don’t stay on your skin as long as other types like silicone or oil-based lubes. While that’s NBD if you’re doing a quickie sex session, you may need to reapply if you’re gearing up for a marathon in bed.In general, water-based lubes are pretty versatile—they can be used with silicone toys and latex condoms.
- Oil-based lube: Oil-based lubes are known for their staying power. But heads up that the oil may leave a coating on the rectum or vagina that can increase the risk of urinary or vaginal infections, Dr. Shepherd says. Not everyone has this issue, though, and if you’re able to use oil-based lube just fine, feel free to keep at it.Just remember that oil-based lubes should never be used with latex condoms. “If you’re using any type of latex product, you can’t use an oil-based lubricant because that will disintegrate the latex,” Dr. Shepherd says.
- Silicone-based lube: These last longer than most other lubes, but they can be harder to wash off than other types, Dr. Shepherd says. They’re also not compatible with silicone sex toys, as it can break down the material, Dr. Shepherd explains.
- Natural lube: Natural lubes don’t contain chemicals and additives that can be irritants, particularly to people with sensitive skin. “Natural lubes usually consist of ingredients that can range from homemade to store-bought and have the lowest amounts of ingredients,” Dr. Shepherd says. While Dr. Shepherd notes that the specifics of what is and isn’t considered “natural” is debatable, these lubes typically will not contain synthetic ingredients.
These are the best, most creative ways to actually use lube.
There are a lot more options out there besides just smearing some on and calling it a day. Try these options to max out your lube experience.
Use it for an epic hand job.
“Lube is everything when it comes to hand jobs,” O’Reilly says. Try smearing a few drops on your hands or putting some on your partner’s penis before you dive in. “Anything you can do with your mouth, you can do with your hands as long as you use lube—and your hands are more flexible and dexterous,” O’Reilly says. She recommends interlacing your lubed-up fingers and going for it.
Take fingering your partner up a notch.
Try this pro tip from O’Reilly: Lube up your fingers, and cross them, like you’re making an “I swear” motion. Then, slide them into your partner’s vagina, while gently rotating them. You can use your thumb to work your partner’s clitoris while you’re at it.
Smear them over your toys.
There’s plenty you can do here when it comes to sex toys. “You can roll a lubed-up bullet vibe over your skin or across the vulva,” O’Reilly says. Another trick: Sweep a vibe, with lube, over the perineum during oral or penetrative sex on your partner.
Try it in the shower.
O’Reilly recommends adding a few drops of lube to the base of your vagina or your toys before hitting the shower. Why? Water is notorious for washing away your own natural juices, and that can lead to some not-so-comfortable friction.
Make anal play seamless.
Lube can help make backdoor penetration more comfortable, O’Reilly says. In fact, since you don’t have natural lubrication there, it’s kind of essential. “Use silicone lube for all types of anal penetration—with fingers, toys, strap-ons, penises, and anal beads,” she advises. It can also be an added bonus to keep things lubricated when you’re rimming your partner.
Add it for wetter intercourse.
Of course, this is where we’re used to using lube most often. “Use lube for more pleasure and less friction,” O’Reilly says. She suggests applying lube right to your vulva using your fingers, or, if you want to get the party started right away, having your partner apply it by using their lips.
Try a new BJ technique.
It’s highly unlikely your partner has ever experienced this sexy hack before. Use your tongue to cover your lower teeth and wrap your top lip around your upper teeth. “Add lube to your upper lip as you clamp them between your teeth,” O’Reilly says.
Dole out a sensual massage.
While you can do it on your partner’s back, O’Reilly says a thigh massage is really the way to ramp things up during foreplay. “Use lube to trace figure eights over their thighs,” she says. “Or use it to massage their inner legs before going down on them.”
Apply it to level up a blow job.
Gently massaging your partner’s balls (if they have them) during a blow job can help max out the experience. O’Reilly’s advice: Add a few drops of lube to your hands and then play with their balls or perineum while you give your partner a blow job.
Drip a little inside a condom.
A big complaint with condoms is that they can take some of the pleasurable feeling out of sex, but O’Reilly says that adding a little lube inside can do the opposite. “A drop or two of lube in the tip of the condom can heighten sensation,” she says.
Pair it with a vibe to massage your partner.
A vibrator can really stimulate a partner with a penis. O’Reilly recommends taking a flat-tip vibe, covering it in lube, and gently tracing it around your partner’s balls. You can even breathe warm air gently over the wet path you’ve created.
Try lube to make solo play even sexier.
O’Reilly recommends using lube to try out different sensations for what she calls “mindful” masturbation. “Slow down, release your grip, and breathe deeply as you focus on the sensations in your body as opposed to focusing on getting to orgasm,” she says.Sounds like a plan.
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