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Search the word "lube" on Amazon and you'll receive more results than one person could parse through in a lifetime. Between the countless oil-, water-, and silicone-based lubricants on the market, it can be hard to know where to begin.
"Water-based lubes aren't as 'slippery' as oil-based lubes, but they are generally compatible with condoms and toys, whereas most oil-based lubes are not," explains Karyn Eilber, MD, a Beverly Hills-based urologist and founder of lubricant company Glissant. "Water-based lubricants will also dry faster than their oil counterparts."
Then there's silicone, an ultra-slippery, synthetic alternative. "Silicone lubricant lasts longer," says Renee Horowitz, MD, an obstetrician and gynecologist in Farmington Hills, Michigan. Though silicone lubes are safe to use with condoms, they may deteriorate the surface of sex toys, and Dr. Horowitz notes that they have a tendency to become sticky: "That can be problematic, but some people really, really like them."
No matter what kind of lube you're shopping for, there are a few factors you should keep in mind. "Common chemicals used [in lube] are parabens, propylene glycol, phthalates, and glycerin, and these can all potentially cause irritation and possibly infection," says Dr. Eilber. "FDA clearance is another important consideration...lubricants are considered a medical device and FDA clearance can help reassure consumers that the lubricant has gone through extensive testing."
If you plan to use an oil-based lube, Dr. Eilber says it's important to consider a product's carrier oil, or the oil used to dilute its other ingredients and keep skin safe. "Coconut, almond, and grapeseed oil are all great carrier oils because they are naturally anti-inflammatory and coconut oil is naturally antibacterial and antifungal," she says.
According to Dr. Horowitz, women of all ages could benefit from a great lubricant during intercourse. "So many women do experience dryness during sex, even young women," she explains. "And if you're on birth control pills, it may even be harder. Birth control pills can decrease lubrication."
Dr. Gutierrez echoes that sentiment and says it's "always worth mentioning that natural lubrication tends to be increased by extending foreplay."
Clearly, there's a lot to consider when trying a new lube, which is why we scoured the internet for the best options out there. Keep scrolling to learn more about our top ten picks, all of which are free from glycerin, parabens, and phthalates.