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16 Jul 2019 (Last updated 26 Jun 2023)

The lowdown on lube: what, why and how to choose?

Sexual Health 4 min read
a bottle of water-based lube in a luxury bottle

A beginner's guide to sex lubricant.

Are you a lubricant or a lubri-CAN?

Cheesy puns aside, a lot of people associate using lubricant with sexual dysfunction, a sign of ageing or some kinky sex play. But simply put lube or as Cosmo calls it “the unsung hero of sex ” is specialised formulations that are used during masturbation or partner sex to help relieve the friction between genitals or sex-toys.

And yes, lubricant can be a lifesaver in all examples I previously gave (all of which deserve be destigmatised) but its uses are certainly not limited to those examples.

4 benefits of using a sex lube.

People need and enjoy using lubricant for a variety of reasons and benefits.

1. Sensation.

Using lubricant with a partner or alone has been proven to heighten the sensation of pleasure. They also help to give a more organic feel when using silicone toys.

Lubricants can be a risk-averse way to experiment with temperature play too. Leaving your bottle of lube in the fridge for an hour before you have sex and then dropping some on to your partner’s skin during outercourse will make their hairs stand on end.

2. Hormonal changes.

Depending on where you are in your natural cycle, menopause or medical contraception, your hormone levels will have an effect on your body’s natural ability to produce vaginal lubrication. Hence why at some time of the month we might feel drier than other times.

Interesting fact; the week of menstruation is actually known to be the driest time.

3. Pregnancy.

Another especially dry time in a woman’s life may be during pregnancy. Most commonly women will experience more discharge during pregnancy however everyone is different and will experience the flux of their hormones in a different way.

We are generally not educated on sex during pregnancy until we are pregnant, especially in the context of pleasure. Expecting parents may have anxiety about safety and comfort so using lubricant may help to relieve at least some of the drama.

4. Pain relief.

We know that 8 out of 10 women have experienced pain during sex and this is usually down to vaginal dryness. For many women, extended outercourse (a minimum of twenty minutes) is recommended and is enough to prepare the vagina for penetration. However, for those who need a little more than what their body is producing at that time, lubricant can turn a painful encounter into a pleasurable one.

You can see from just this short selection of when a lubricant is used and needed, all of the benefits it can bring.

Lube is our friend and for many, it is necessary for their sexual wellness!

a person using a bottle of lube on their hand with a green background

Lubricant is skin care.

Disconcertingly, some major brands that produce lubricants don’t view their products as a supplement to sexual health. Many lubricants contain ingredients that are not even safe for pregnant people!

According to an independent researcher, some of the most popular high street lubricants produced are certified D for Significant Risk. Meaning they contain allergens and risk a frisky night-in, turning into a possible trip to the doctor.

How do you know which lube is right for you?

Start by looking at ingredients to check for your allergens.

Next, ask yourself at what kind of sex you will be using it for (outercourse / with toys /penetrative.)

Finally, is what you are using your lubricant for, compatible with the type you are looking to buy?

Types of sex lubricants.

Silicone lubes – slippery, but safe?

Silicone lubricants can be ideal if you are using in water or trying anal sex because the molecules in silicone are so big that they don’t break down without soap and a bit of effort to remove. This also means you rarely need to reapply silicone lubes. However, this fact alone is a little scary and is also the reason why silicone lubricants can cause irritation or infection as they will remain inside the vagina until expelled by the body.

Silicone lubricants were first created for condoms and so are usually compatible with condoms however they can’t be used with sex toys as they corrode the surface of the toys and make them a bigger risk for harbouring bacteria.

Our verdict: They’re great if you’re looking to have anal sex while deep-sea-diving. There are too many risks and leave way too much mess. Basically, silicone lubricants are a thing of the past.

Natural oil-based lubes: is coconut oil lube good for you?

If you are a wellness enthusiast you may have read that one of the many benefits of coconut oil is to us as a lubricant and it’s true! Coconut oil can be very conditioning for the delicate skin of your vulva and supply you with a lot of natural glide during sex. Although, alas, coconut oil will break your condoms as the natural properties break down the latex materials.

Additionally, coconut oil is antibacterial and antifungal and can upset the natural pH of your vulva and cause a yeast infection!

Our verdict: Great for a scalp treatment, not so great for any internal usage!

Water-based lubes.

Hooray! Unlike oils or silicones, these lubricants leave little-to-no mess and can be used with silicone toys and latex condoms. According to a recent independent survey, our water-based lubricants actually have the highest safety score so they are even suitable for pregnant women and those of us with sensitive skin.

After all, vulva-care is skin care!

Worried about having to reapply? Just because you are using a product that is water-based and derived from natural ingredients it doesn’t mean you should have to use plenty of product each time. As our Generous Gel lube demonstrates. It is generous by nature and in texture.

Our verdict: ding ding ding. Ten’s across the board.

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