Hello my friends, the year is 2021, and the average person’s level of woke-ness about chemicals, toxins, and generally, pretty icky stuff in beauty and body products is rapidly rising. You’re living under a rock (is it an organic rock though?) if you haven’t heard just a little about why it’s important to be choosy about the products you use on your body every day. That’s why we’re talking about natural lubricants today.
Let’s one up that thought here too—not only is it important to think about our skin and what products we put on it but it’s also important to acknowledge that some parts of our body absorb products more easily than others.
Say whaaa? The vagina, mouth, anus, and head of the penis (specifically if uncircumcised) are extra absorptive parts of the human body, known as mucous membranes. Wellllllp… these are the parts of the body coming into direct contact with lube right? Yep, that’s why when two become one, it’s wise to be thoughtful about what goes on, in, and around these parts. Say goodbye to the sale rack drugstore lube, oh and also definitely dump that cherry-pie flavored, glittery, and somehow edible condom you got at your BFF’s bachelorette party. When it comes to your extra special bits, get picky and say hello to thoughtfully made products or totally natural oils instead.
Read on for slippery dippery details on a few of the cleanest, body-friendly, vaginal PH jiving, health-conscious natural lubricants on the market as parsed through by me, a certified nurse-midwife and specialist in all things vagina and sexual health.
A note on “clean” products: If you haven’t delved deep into this idea yet, that’s okay, it’s ripe for delving these days and there are a ton of helpful articles actually right here and here and here and here on the site to get started with.
However, when it comes to avoiding chemicals and toxins, remember that we can’t avoid absolutely everything in this wild world (so don’t freak) but we can do a good job of cutting out major offenders, and this is especially important if you’re in your child-bearing years and planning to conceive one day.
What you should know about lube and condoms:
Ya’ll let me be honest, it took most of my adult life to finally read and realize that some lubes just don’t play well with condoms. If your goal with condoms is to avoid pregnancy and acquiring a sexually transmitted infection, then definitely think twice about what lube you choose to use. Oils in natural lubrication such as coconut oil can break down the integrity of the condom increasing your risk for breakage. Ah, not cool! To help you navigate if you’re a condom user, I’ve specified how each lube below plays with condoms. A quick tip is that water or silicone-based lubricants are safe for use with condoms while oil-based lubricants (i.e. olive or coconut oil) are not.
Is it just me or is coconut oil good for like, everything in the world? Eczema, diaper rash, politics, sex, just throw some coconut oil at it. In all seriousness though, coconut oil is an excellent natural lubricant and a total favorite for so many people, if you’ve never tried it, thank me later! This yummy oil is solid at room temp (unless it’s the depth of summer in the south) making it easily warmed and used by just rubbing between your hands. The taste and smell (which feel important during sex for many) are delicious and fun. Maui Wowee anyone? Don’t be afraid to lube away with this natural oil that you can buy in bulk basically anywhere these days. Do note that if you are someone who has dealt with chronic or recurrent yeast infections (not just a yeast infection here or there), there is some sugar in coconut oil so you may want to consider a different lubricant.
Condom & Toy Safe: No this is an oil and should not be used with condoms or silicone sex toys.
PH balancing: No
Evening Primrose Oil
Botanical-loving babes, this is one of the best plant-powered natural lubricants. The vagina-friendly, naturally occurring oil is high in omega-3 fatty acids which are essentially super lubricating, “healthy” fats. Additionally in the herbal health world, oral doses of EPO are thought to help resolve hormone imbalances that may be the root cause of vaginal dryness. While there hasn’t been any moving scientific research on EPO and vaginal dryness, using the oil as a lubricant certainly won’t hurt and is a lovely herbal ally for temporary relief of dryness.
From college to empty nesting this herb is recommended to women routinely for an array of women’s health complaints, is well known, and tolerated by many. Straight and to the point this oil is low on smell, taste, and price. A solid super-natural option with herbal tout to boot. If you’re pregnant, begin using this oil after 36 weeks gestation only, and look forward to the cervical softening effects to help prepare your body for birth.
Condom & Toy Safe: No, this product is oil-based and should not be used with condoms or silicone sex toys.
PH balancing: No
If we threw coconut oil on everything starting 10 years ago, the last five years have been dedicated in the same way to CBD. CBD lovers should know, this awesome plant extraction touts some big benefits, like increasing blood flow and relaxing muscle tension, so you can bet CBD has made its way to the bedroom. Foria, who has been at the forefront of the CBD/THC lube market, makes a beautifully clean, botanically infused lubricant that promises to heighten sexual pleasure and help relieve pain. Wait, pain? Yes, pain with sex is actually pretty common but also pretty treatable luckily. The ingredient list is short and sweet, free of any alcohol, petroleum-based ingredients, phthalates, glycerin, parabens, or dyes. It does contain yummy ingredients like organic MCT Coconut Oil, whole-plant infusions like hemp, kava, cinnamon, ginger, and vanilla as well as cardamom, peppermint, and cacao. Is it just me or are we at a fancy restaurant ordering dessert? They say sex is the best dessert, and I’d say it’s definitely worth treating your body here folks. While the price tag is a bit higher than the other natural lubricants, it runs on par for good quality CBD. Yum!
Bonus note: if you live in a U.S. city where cannabis is legal to buy recreationally, consider checking out Foria’s cannabis-infused lubricant sold at dispensaries, per their website “cannabis is known to affect cell receptors directly involved in active sensations and euphoria.” Definitely, a unique way to get that after sex high.
Condom & Toy Safe: No, this product is also oil-based and should not be used with condoms or silicone sex toys.
PH balancing: No
Aloe vera isn’t just for sunburn. This water-retaining, gentle plant is as moisturizing for your sexy parts as it is for your summer sun mistake. For people with extra sensitive genitals, it’s non-irritating, as well as cooling. Summer sex, here we come. A fresh and cool underside sounds like just what you need to beat the heat while getting steamy. To avoid weird additives and chemicals be sure to get 100% aloe vera (often available at the health food store) and double-check the label to be sure there’s nothing funky mixed in. I would say this is a great go-to for people who prefer simple, cool, easy, and totally plant-based natural lubricants.
Condom & Toy Safe: Yes! As long as it’s 100% aloe vera with no additives
PH balancing: No
The benefits are many in this water-based, organic aloe-infused lube that was created by a female-owned company. Lola lube is friendly to sensitive skin, natural and plant-based, safe with condoms and PH balancing. Yes, hunny! Got some good girls taking care of you over there at Lola. This is the same company that created natural and organic tampon subscriptions so they specialize in vaginal accessories. (Yes, I’m calling tampons and lube accessories—you deserve it.) Why would you want a PH balancing lube though? Let’s chat vaginal PH; the vagina is a pretty awesome organ that is great at self-regulation, keeping a delicate balance of healthy flora, and has its own mini immune system.
If you remember from chemistry, PH is how acidic or alkaline something is. Vaginal PH can be easily thrown off by antibiotic use, spending too long in sweaty synthetic yoga pants, or recurrent PH-based issues like bacterial vaginosis or yeast. You definitely don’t want to make it harder for your vag to find its balance by adding unnecessary fragrances or ingredients. This lubricant is balanced to actually mimic the natural PH of the vagina, making it friendly for those prone to PH issues—and protective to those who haven’t had to deal with PH imbalance in the past. The company reports their natural lubricant is made without parabens, petrochemicals, gluten, glycerin, synthetic colorants, synthetic flavor, fragrance, sulfates, propylene glycol, and alcohol. This one is one of the gentler and easier on the list that I’ve found so far and is FDA and gynecologist-approved.
Condom & Toy Safe: Yes! Water-based.
PH balancing: No
Developed with menopause in mind—which can cause vaginal dryness due to low estrogen levels—this lubricant is also FDA approved and has probiotics in it to boot. For people with chronically drier vaginas, breastfeeding people, or our peri- or post-menopausal friends, this would be an awesome choice lubricant. It is also pretty awesome if you’re none of the above but you want slightly thicker and creamier natural lubricants with few ingredients. Made with vegetable, olive, and argan oil it also has resveratrol ferment extract. Resveratrol is a plant-derived product that has anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and antifungal properties. This ingredient is meant to keep your extra-sensitive parts calm, cleansed, and nourished during and after sex. Pretty cool, it’s like skincare for your vag! The company reports their oil-based product is free from glycerin, fragrance, parabens, flavoring, alcohol, and hormones. They also tout their formulation as non-sticky, non-staining, FDA approved, and edible which likely just means safe to get in your mouth (not lookin’ like a snack you actually want to eat okay?)
Condom & Toy Safe: No, oil-based.
PH balancing: No
Contains Probiotics for vaginal health
So there you have it—happy slip-sliding my friends. Don’t be afraid to use lubricants as needed or just for fun. Enjoyable, pain-free sex is important for everyone and can totally enhance pleasure in ways you may not have known possible! I hope when you think about using something from the outside inside the bedroom (or on the couch, car, and on top of the washing machine) that you totally get a little choosey and stick with clean, body-safe natural lubricants. As always, you deserve it!
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