Lubricants: The Basics

Lubricants: The Basics

Read about the author Megan Barnett

Using a good irritant free lubricant is incredibly beneficial to both your sexual health and pleasure.

Contrary to what the media and porn implies, not all women become instantly wet as soon as sex play is instigated. Even if we are mentally ready for sex, our bodies sometimes need a little help catching up.

There are also many external factors that can impact upon a woman’s level of natural vaginal lubrication, including stress, hormones or medication. Attempting penetrative sex when the vagina isn’t lubricated enough can cause pain for both partners.

Be An Ingredients Detective

It’s essential to be aware of the ingredients of your lubricant as some commonly found in many lubricants such as glycerin, glycols and parabens can and do cause vaginal and anal irritation and even thrush, and also ensure that you’re using a product that is designed for sexual use.

Be aware that some well known lubricant brands do not always put the ingredients on the label, so choose a product that you know what the ingredients are. When using a lubricant, always do a skin test before putting it all over your vulva, inside your vagina or anus. If you experience any irritation, wash it off immediately. If you notice itching or soreness after sexual use, it will probably be the lubricant, so choose a skin safe product.

Many people also assume they are allergic to latex condoms when it is often the lubricant on the condom or friction during sex when the lubricant dries out, so choose a condom with a silicone lubricant such as Skins and use your own lubricant. Avoid any oil-based product as this will destroy latex condom.

It is so frustrating when we hear that GPs and other healthcare professionals are recommending Vaseline, olive oil and poor lubricants to their patients.

What to avoid when using lubricant


When we recommend using lubricants to our customers, often they ask, “Can’t I just use Vaseline?”, which is a big no no! Vaseline is designed for healing, as it creates a barrier over the skin to lock in moisture to encourage the skin’s healing process. This means that it does not get reabsorbed into the body, and it stays on the vulval tissue and on the walls of the vagina. What’s more, petroleum jelly is insoluble in water, making it hard to clean off.

Vaseline is also unsafe to use with latex condoms due to the mineral oils it contains. These oils react with the latex and make the condom burst. Vaseline can also degrade the silicone commonly used to coat sex toys, so it is not recommended to be used as a lubricant with silicone vibrators or dildos, either.

Baby Oil

People commonly and wrongly assume that Baby Oil is safe to use as a sexual lubricant. Baby oil is made from mineral oil, a highly refined by-product of the petrochemical industry. It is used in many beauty products because it is cheap.

Mineral oil creates a waterproof barrier on the skin rather than being absorbed into the skin. This can lead to blocked pores and decrease the body’s ability to eliminate toxins through sweating. It is not suitable for vaginal use as it stays inside the vagina rather than being absorbed into the walls of the vagina.

As it stays inside the vagina, it can upset the vagina’s microbiome, causing an imbalance in pH which can lead to an infection such as thrush or bacterial vaginosis. It may also cause anal infection after anal intercourse or sex play. It will also damage condoms and degrade the silicone coating of sex toys.

KY Jelly

Often recommended by GPs and HCPs, KY Jelly is a well-known brand of lubricant. However, it contains both parabens and glycerine, which can cause thrush. It also has a higher osmolarity than the cells in the body, drawing moisture out of the walls of the vagina rather than hydrating them, exacerbating vaginal dryness, not helping it. This can leave the body vulnerable to infection, so could actually increase your risk of catching an STI.

It was one of the lubricants which destroyed my intimate health and sex life as I had no idea it contained irritating ingredients

“Tingling” or “cooling” lubricants

Some people find warming and cooling lubricants can enhance their sexual pleasure, but it’s important to be cautious about the ingredients. Often the tingling effect is caused by menthol or chilli, which can be extremely damaging to the delicate tissue of the genitals. These lubricants can also contain all sorts of chemicals that could be detrimental to your sexual health.

Coconut Oil

Coconut oil is a bit of a magical ingredient as it can be used in cooking as well as for cosmetic purposes. However, similarly that Vaseline is designed for healing purposes, coconut oil has antiviral and antibacterial qualities that could upset the vaginal flora. It can also clog the pores, which could cause skin irritation for some people.

If, however, you do want to use it as a lubricant, ensure that it is 100% pure, organic, in a tube, not a pot to prevent contamination as you dip your fingers in and out of it and ethically farmed, not by monkeys on chains. Also, be aware that it is incompatible with latex condoms. You can read more about coconut oil as a lubricant here.

Body lotions and hand creams

Some people might assume that because a product is moisturising it can be used as a lubricant, but these products are not designed for internal use. They could affect the vagina’s pH and cause irritation, especially if they are perfumed products.

Liquid soap or hand sanitizer

If you think that products are safe to put near your genitals because it has cleansing qualities, think again. Douching is incredibly harmful to the vagina’s pH balance, and soaps and sanitizers can cause burning sensations to the delicate skin of the penis and vulval area.


Just because something has a creamy texture does not mean that it can be used as a lubricant! Sudocrem creates a barrier on the skin to promote the skin’s healing process, and is specifically designed for cuts, burns and nappy rash. It does not get absorbed into the skin, and so lingers in the vagina and on the penis and vulval area. It also contains liquid paraffin and citric acid, which can upset the delicate flora of the vagina.


Germolene is an antiseptic cream, designed to be used externally to promote wound healing, not for sex play. It contains chlorhexidine, an antiseptic, not designed for intimate use and Phenol, which has a numbing effect. It also contains alcohol, liquid paraffin and dyes, all of which disrupt the delicate microbiome of the vagina.

Bio Oil

Bio oil is a specialist skincare oil that aims to improve the appearance of the skin, from fading scars and stretch marks to alleviating dryness. While it can hydrate the skin, it is not suitable as a lubricant as it is only designed for external use. It is also a perfumed product that could affect the pH of the vagina.


While incorporating food into your foreplay can be extremely erotic, be careful if attempting to use food as a lubricant. Sugary foods could cause thrush, and food substances will not likely be absorbed by the body, so could linger unless cleaned. Douching the vagina can be harmful as it disrupts the vaginal flora and could lead to infections.

Olive oil has many health benefits, but there is no scientific research to indicate whether it is completely safe to use it as a lubricant. What’s more, it is unhygienic to be using the same bottle of oil that you cook with as a sexual lubricant, as the oil could become contaminated.


Some people choose to forgo using a lubricant and choose to use saliva instead, as grabbing a bottle of lube from your bedside table or drawer can seem like a mood killer for some men and women. However, while saliva from oral sex can seem more sensual, your spittle can leave the skin feeling dry. It also only provides a thin barrier, so could lead to painful sex as there is inadequate lubrication.

Lubricants that you can use safely during sex

Water-based lubricant

Water-based lubricants are the most versatile lubricant available and are safe to use with latex condoms and diaphragms. YES water-Based Organic Lubricant feels more like a woman’s natural vaginal lubrication, and can also be absorbed into the tissues of the vagina, helping to nourish the sensitive skin. Water-based lubricants are also easy to wash off after use, leaving your skin clean, smooth and free of residue. If they do dry out, you can add a little more or reactivate them with water.

SUTIL LUXE is a silky smooth water-based lubricant that moisturises, nourishes and soothes our most intimate areas, as well as lubricating for sexual pleasure. This fabulous water-based lubricant gently cushions and glides, blending seamlessly with your own natural lubrication during sex. Being water-based, it is easy to wash off too.

Free from irritating ingredients and hormone free, it is perfect post cancer treatment and during menopause, and for those who are unable to use hormone replacement therapy, not only as a sexual lubricant but also as a vaginal moisturiser and can be used with any sex toy or dilator.

Made with eco – certified ingredients, SUTIL is committed to creating natural and organic cosmetics that are not only great for your skin, but also derived from renewable resources and manufactured using environmentally friendly processes.

SUTIL RICH is a thick, velvety water-based lubricant that feels like it’s silicone-based. Designed with a pH suitable for both anal and vaginal use, the new “Rich” formulation has enhanced viscosity to ease anal penetration and soothe dry, delicate tissues.

SUTIL Rich contains small amounts of Horny Goat Weed — a herbal aphrodisiac — that is added, along with Siberian Ginseng and Jujube nut. Traditionally, these herbs are used to increase strength, energy, stamina and vitality, but they also help to boost immune functions and have natural antibiotic and antiseptic properties to fight infection. Horny Goat Weed is also a vasodilator, which promotes blood flow and increases natural lubrication.

Depending on your sensitivity, you may feel a warm, slightly tingly sensation when using SUTIL Rich and if you are new to SUTIL we would recommend trying SUTIL Luxe first (or trying both – we have 10ml testers of both available).

Oil-based lubricant

Oil-based lubricants give a great long-lasting, silky smooth experience. They are thick and creamy, and last longer during sex. YES Oil Based Organic Lubricant is extremely skin nourishing as it is made with plant extracts, completely safe to use with all our sex toys and dilators and is great fun in the shower or pool because it will not wash away. You can also use it with our water-based lubricant during sex play, to create a luscious Double Glide affect.

Note, any oil-based product will destroy latex condoms. They also linger inside the vagina and anus up to 24 hours after use, something to note if you’re using a latex condom within that period.

Silicone-based lubricant

Silicone-based lubricants last a very long time, are great for fun in the water and are safe for use with latex condoms. However, they are not suitable to use on silicone sex toys because they will damage the surface, leave it feeling tacky and porous, therefore difficult to clean.

ID Velvet Silicone lubricant does not contain preservatives and is dermatologically safe, skin-conditioning and intensely moisturising.

Written By : Megan Barnett