Anal Lube Alternatives: Which Ones Are Safe — Or Unsafe?

When it comes to anal lube alternatives, you should be very careful about what you use — the wrong choice could create serious problems for your backdoor.
Sideview Photograph Of Woman's Buttocks And Hip With One Hand Holding Half A Coconut And The Other Hand Dripping Coconut Milk From One Finger

In the heat of the moment, it can be tempting to grab anything within arm’s reach to make anal sex more comfortable.

But when it comes to butt play and safe lube alternatives, you should be very careful about what you use — the wrong choice could create serious problems for your backdoor.

Some anal lube alternatives can cause skin irritation — including burning, itching, or rashes in and around the anus.

Broken, irritated skin is an open invitation for infections that can be uncomfortable at best — and potentially dangerous or life-threatening at worst.

As you’ll discover, there are only a small handful of truly safe anal lube alternatives according to Dr. Susan Milstein who is on our medical review board — although when compared to a store-bought anal lube, you may find that they are far messier and less user-friendly.

It’s wise to stick with a specially formulated anal lube whenever possible since they are designed specifically for anal sex, but if you’re in a real pinch or just curious about what to use as anal lube, then read on.

In this article about everything you need to know about safe and unsafe anal lube alternatives, we’ll cover:

Editor’s Note: This article is part of our Everything Lube hub, an in-depth and evolving resource that comprehensively explores all aspects of personal lubricants from the different types and how to use them, to ingredients and safety — created to help you achieve the sexual pleasure you deserve.

Why Should You Use Anal Lube?

Anal lube is a personal lubricant designed specifically to be used during anal intercourse. It reduces discomfort, eases pain, and makes everything more slippery and pleasurable.

Lube is vitally important during anal sex because the anus isn’t self-lubricating.

Anal lube lowers the risk of rectal tearing during penetration and also lowers the risk of STI transmission.

Click here to buy the best and safest anal lubes available right now.

How Is Anal Lube Different From Other Lubricants?

Many factors separate anal lubricants from vaginal or even edible lubricants for oral sex.

  • Anal lubes have a higher pH: Although pH only applies to water-based products, the safest anal lubes have a higher pH compared to other lubricants to more closely match the pH of the anus (7-8), which is higher than that of the vagina (3.8-4.5).
  • Anal lubes are usually thicker: The heavy consistency of anal lube is ideal for increasing comfort during deep anal penetration. Lubricants designed for vaginal or oral sex are often more lightweight in texture, and may not always provide enough cushion for anal sex.
  • Anal lubes are longer lasting: Anal lubes (particularly oil or silicone-based anal lubes) are designed to last longer than other lubricants and require reapplication less often.

As we mentioned earlier, the anus is not naturally moist like a vagina or a mouth and it doesn’t self-lubricate.

An anal sex lubricant provides adequate lubrication during penetration, which can ease discomfort and soothe soreness.

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Anal Lube Alternatives: Safe (And Unsafe) Options

It’s best to stick with specially formulated anal lubes for the reasons we’ve outlined above, but in a pinch, there are some safe or mostly-safe anal lube substitutes you can try.

In this section, we’ll talk about:

Which Anal Lube Alternatives Are Safe?

ollage Of Coconut Oil, Avocado Oil, And Canola Oil On Nightstand Table With Bedding In The Distant Background

Certain lube alternatives are considered safe — or at least sometimes safe — by Dr. Susan Milstein, who sits on our medical review board, although you should always factor in their base ingredients and your own personal skin sensitivities before using them.

Some alternatives can work as decent anal lube, but they may not be as slick as a store-bought lube.

If you are prone to anal yeast infections, itching (pruritis ani), or existing chronic skin conditions, it’s probably best to steer clear of these substitutes — even if they are considered completely safe.

When using any of the natural oils listed below, always make sure that they are of the highest quality possible, preferably harvested from organic sources with the least amount of refinement.

Refined oils are heavily processed. Depending on the oil, refinement can involve the use of chemicals that can lead to irritation when used as an anal lubricant.

It’s important to remember, however, that all oils will break down condoms made from latex and polyisoprene. They are only safe for use with polyurethane, nitrile, or lambskin condoms.

Additionally, oils should not be used with latex sex toys, such as those used during pegging.

Click any link below to learn more about that particular type of anal lube alternative and why it is generally considered safe for anal sex.

[Everything on the list below is considered SOMETIMES safe; Those that are “Safe In Most Cases” are labeled as such.]

Here are the safest anal lube alternatives:

[Everything on the list below is considered SOMETIMES safe; Those that are “Safe In Most Cases” are labeled as such.]

  • Almond Oil As Anal Lube: As long as you (or your partner) are not allergic to nuts, almond oil is safe to use as an anal lubricant. It has a naturally sweet aroma which might be off-putting for some. Almond oil is high in vitamin E which is great for soothing and moisturizing your anal tissues, but again, it’s runny and not as thick as proper anal lubes.

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  • Aloe Vera As Anal Lube (Not Recommended): While aloe vera is safe to use as a personal lubricant, it is not recommended as an anal lube because its pH is much lower than that of the rectum. It is also lightweight and may not provide enough cushion for anal penetration, potentially leading to injury and possible infection.

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  • Argan Oil As Anal Lube (Safe In Most Cases): Argan oil is a lightweight oil that is safe for penetrative sex, however, its consistency may be too thin for anal sex if you need a thicker lubricant. If using argan oil as a lube, seek a pure product that has no added ingredients.

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  • Avocado Oil As Anal Lube (Safe In Most Cases): Avocado oil has grown in popularity over recent years and is a safe lube alternative for most people, provided you don’t have any allergies or sensitivities to it.

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  • Canola Oil As Anal Lube: Canola oil is a highly refined type of cooking oil that is dense and can clog pores, potentially leading to irritation and infection. It can sometimes be considered safe as an anal lube, provided that you don’t have sensitive skin.

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  • Castor Oil As Anal Lube: Castor oil is a common ingredient in many products, including those designed to care for the skin. It can be safe to use as an anal lube, as long as you aren’t engaging in analingus after it’s been applied. Castor oil is known to have a laxative effect when ingested.

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  • CBD Oil As Anal Lube (Safe In Most Cases): Another type of oil that has exploded in popularity, CBD oil is a safe alternative as a lube for anal sex provided that you’re using a quality oil. That said, the industry isn’t well regulated. If you choose to use CBD oil as lube, make sure that you purchase the product from a reliable source.

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  • Cocoa Butter As Anal Lube: Cocoa butter is a natural and sometimes organic ingredient that is found in some oil-based lubricants. For this reason, it can be a safe anal lube alternative as long as it isn’t blended with other ingredients, additives, added fragrances, or dyes.

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  • Coconut Oil As Anal Lube (Safe In Most Cases): Refined 100% pure virgin coconut oil on its own is a liquid that feels a bit thinner in texture compared to formulated oil-based lubricants. It doesn’t carry the same kind of cushiony feel as formulated lubes during penetrative anal sex. Unrefined virgin coconut oil, however, has a solid, paste-like consistency that must be warmed in your hands before use — but it is the safest option for coconut oil as a lube, anal or otherwise.

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  • Cooking Oil As Anal Lube: Cooking oil can sometimes be a safe anal lube alternative but it’s important to look at the way it has been processed. In general, cooking oils are refined to some degree — meaning that they are treated with processes that often involve the use of chemicals that can be irritating to the skin, potentially leading to infection.

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  • Cornstarch As Anal Lube (Safe, But Not Recommended): Cornstarch can’t be used as lube all by itself, however, when mixed with water, it is a safe lube alternative. That said, it’s generally not recommended because it can be difficult to achieve the right consistency. Too little water results in a thick and gummy texture while using too much will dilute the mixture entirely, thinning it in the process.

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  • Crisco As Anal Lube: Crisco was used as an anal lube “back in the day” when gay sex and culture were taboo. Its whipped texture was ideal for anal penetration and it lasted a long time. Crisco can sometimes be safe when used as anal lube, but the product is dense and can clog pores, trapping bacteria and potentially leading to an infection.

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  • Essential Oils As Anal Lube: Essential oils can sometimes be safe lube alternatives but many people find that they are sensitive to them — so it’s important to do a patch test elsewhere on your skin to watch for a reaction. Additionally, it is better to blend essential oils with carrier oils like coconut oil, because it reduces the amount of essential oil your skin has contact with, lowering the risk of sensitivity. If you do use essential oil as an anal lube, make sure to choose one that is 100% pure and has no additives or other ingredients.

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  • Grapeseed Oil As Anal Lube: High-quality grapeseed oil can be used as anal lube, but it isn’t going to be as thick or luxurious as a formulated anal lube. Grapeseed oil has a runny texture and typically requires multiple applications, so it may not be the ideal choice for anal sex.

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  • Jojoba Oil As Anal Lube: Made from the seeds of jojoba shrubs, jojoba oil is a healing and hydrating oil that can be used as anal lube as long as you don’t have an allergy or sensitivity to it. It’s going to feel less thick or rich compared to formulated anal lubricants. When using jojoba oil as anal lube, make sure that you’re using a high-grade 100% pure oil.

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  • Massage Oil As Anal Lube: Massage oils are designed to be used on the skin and they can be used as a personal lubricant sometimes — as long as the ingredients are safe. Before using a massage oil as anal lube, read through the ingredient list to make sure it doesn’t contain unsafe additives, fragrances, or things you are allergic or sensitive to.

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  • Olive Oil As Anal Lube: While olive oil seems like a perfectly good option for an at-home lube and it is somewhat safe, it’s not a good idea to use it anally if you have sensitive skin because it can clog pores and lead to infection. Additionally, it will break down condoms made from latex or polyisoprene, potentially causing the transmission of STDs or STIs.

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  • Shea Butter As Anal Lube (Safe In Most Cases): Shea butter is often found in oil-based lubes, providing a thick texture that leaves the skin smooth and supple. If using shea butter as a personal lubricant for anal sex, make sure that it is not blended with unsuitable ingredients or additives.

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  • Sunflower Oil As Anal Lube: Similar to argan oil, sunflower oil is often found in vegetable oil blends and can be highly processed or refined. Sunflower oil may be safe to use as an anal lube, provided you don’t have sensitive skin or an allergy to sunflower seeds. Even so, it is dense and can clog pores — when bacteria become trapped inside them, it may result in irritation and infection.

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  • Tea Tree Oil As Anal Lube: Tea tree oil is ultra-concentrated and although it is sometimes used in commercial oil-based personal lubricants, it may not be safe to use as anal lube on its own. Tea tree oil has antifungal and antiseptic properties, which can be beneficial to the skin, but it can also cause irritation such as burning, stinging, itching, rash, and dryness if your skin is sensitive.

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  • Vitamin E Oil As Anal Lube (Safe In Most Cases): Vitamin E Oil is safe to use as lube and is also much thinner in texture compared to formulated lubricants. If you need a lubricant with a thicker texture, Vitamin E oil may not be the best choice.
Click here to read our full review of the best and safest anal lubes.

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Which Anal Lube Alternatives Are NOT Safe?

Collage Of Moisturizer, Body Lotion, And Liquid Hand Soap On Nightstand Table With Bedding In The Distant Background

Thankfully we live in a world with many anal lubes to choose from, and we don’t have to resort to unsafe and irritating home remedies.

Although the lube alternatives we discussed earlier are safe or sometimes safe, many others should not be used as a lubricant for anal sex.

It might be tempting to reach for anything in the heat of the moment, but the lube alternatives listed below are not recommended for anal sex and some are downright dangerous and unsafe.

Click any link below to learn more about that particular type of anal lube alternative and why it should NOT be used for anal sex.

[Everything on the list below is NOT recommended; Those that are entirely unsafe are labeled as such.]

Here is a list of unsafe anal lube alternatives:

[Everything on the list below is NOT recommended; Those that are entirely unsafe are labeled as such.]

  • Aquaphor As Anal Lube: Designed as a healing ointment for the skin, Aquaphor may be a safe lube alternative in some circumstances — but it’s petroleum-based and may irritate your anus.

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  • Baby Oil As Anal Lube (Unsafe): Baby oil is often ​​mineral oil-based which clogs pores, breaks down condoms made from latex or polyisoprene, and can lead to irritation of rectal tissue and potential infection. Baby oil is not a safe lube alternative.

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  • Baby Shampoo As Anal Lube: More gentle compared to regular shampoo, baby shampoo can sometimes be considered safe as a lube only for external masturbation. It can potentially contain sulfates and alcohol, however, which may disrupt the delicate pH of the anus, leading to irritation or infection.

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  • Blood As Anal Lube: Hematolagnia, or blood kink, is a niche of fetishers that enjoy blood play in the bedroom. Period sex is another form of blood play in the bedroom, and if you haven’t tried it already, you might discover that menstrual blood works well as vaginal lube. While it can sometimes be considered safe to use blood as lube, it’s definitely messier than a formulated product and it doesn’t provide much in the way of cushion during anal sex. It’s also a good idea for you and your partners to do an STI screening before using anyone’s blood as anal lube.

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  • Body Butter As Anal Lube: Similarly to lotion and other cosmetic products that moisturize your skin, store-bought body butter shouldn’t be used as an anal lube because it contains additives that could cause irritation. Some products that are made with limited and safe ingredients (without added fragrances) may be safe — but we recommend you steer clear of this one during anal sex.

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  • Body Wash As Anal Lube: Body wash can sometimes be safe as a lube, but it may contain a variety of ingredients that include alcohol, sulfates, and fragrances that can irritate rectal tissues and lead to infection. Although formulas vary from product to product, body wash is best avoided as anal lube.

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  • Breastmilk As Anal Lube: Although it can be considered a safe lube alternative in some circumstances, breastmilk is high in sugar content and shouldn’t be used as anal lube because it can breed bacteria within the rectum.

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  • Butter As Anal Lube (Unsafe): Butter has the potential to spread bacteria thanks to the casein proteins in the milk used to make it — which can go rancid quickly in the warm environment of the anus. Butter also clogs pores so it can irritate your skin, as well.

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  • Cetaphil As Anal Lube: Cetaphil is gentle on the skin and has a moisturizing effect, but it is not necessarily a good choice for anal sex. Cetaphil is a type of lotion that is absorbed into the skin, meaning it can dry up when used as a lubricant. Like other lotions, it may contain a variety of ingredients that could lead to potential irritation in the anus and is generally best avoided.

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  • Chapstick As Anal Lube: Chapstick and other lip balms are typically made with petroleum or beeswax. Neither are good ingredients to use as lube as they can irritate your rectum and clog pores, trapping bacteria and leading to infection. Additionally, they may include additives, fragrances, and dyes that can cause irritation as well. Although it is considered sometimes safe as a lube, we don’t recommend it.

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  • Conditioner As Anal Lube: Conditioner decreases friction when combing your hair but it generally shouldn’t be used during anal sex. Alcohol, mineral oil, waxes, fragrances, dyes, and other ingredients that are commonly found in hair conditioners can cause irritation and potential infection when used as anal lube. That said, some conditioners that use more natural ingredients with minimal additives or added fragrances may sometimes be safe to use as a lube, but we don’t recommend doing so.

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  • Hair Gel As Anal Lube (Unsafe): Hair gel can include a variety of different ingredients including alcohols, some of which are made from sugars and can breed bacteria when used as a lubricant. Additionally, added fragrances can cause skin irritation, potentially leading to infection.

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  • Hand Sanitizer As Anal Lube (Unsafe): Most hand sanitizers are designed to dry quickly after application, so they won’t make for a lasting lube. Most importantly, hand sanitizers are made with a high amount of alcohol that can greatly irritate the sensitive skin of the anus.

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  • Hand Soap As Anal Lube: Hand soaps can be made from a variety of ingredients that can potentially irritate the delicate tissue of the anus. Depending on the product’s formula, hand soap can sometimes be safe as a lubricant but it isn’t recommended because of the risk for irritation, which can lead to potential infections.

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  • Honey As Anal Lube: Honey has a very high sugar content which can breed bacteria if used as anal lube. Although it has antimicrobial properties, it’s sticky and doesn’t stay slippery long enough for anal penetration. Although it is considered sometimes safe as a lube alternative, we don’t recommend using honey as lube.

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  • Icy Hot As Anal Lube (Unsafe): Icy Hot is designed to reduce pain and for this reason, it may sound like an option for anal lube. It is not. Icy Hot includes ingredients that create a cooling and warming sensation that are much too strong for the delicate skin of the anus. Additionally, it can be difficult to get it off your skin to reduce those sensations after application.

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  • Lotion As Anal Lube: Lotion contains many different ingredients which may include glycerin, mineral oil, or alcohol, along with added fragrances that can irritate sensitive anal tissue. Although lotion can sometimes be safe if it is made from minimal, natural ingredients that are body-safe, it’s best avoided as anal lube.

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  • Lubriderm As Anal Lube: As a type of lotion, Lubriderm has a gentle and mild formula that can sometimes be considered safe as a lubricant — but we don’t recommend it. Lotions are absorbed into the skin, meaning the “lube” will dry up quickly, but its ingredients have the potential to irritate the delicate skin of the anus, potentially leading to infection.

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  • Mayonnaise As Anal Lube (Unsafe): Like butter or yogurt, mayonnaise is a dairy product. Made from a base of oil and eggs, it may include additional ingredients (like lemon juice) that can be irritating to the skin. Mayonnaise can go rancid within a warm anal cavity, especially because it can’t be easily removed after being used as a lube.

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  • Mineral Oil As Anal Lube: Baby oil, Vaseline or petroleum jelly, and other products that have mineral oil as an ingredient are generally more likely to cause irritation or infection when used as vaginal or anal lube. Mineral oil by itself can sometimes be considered safe as a lubricant — although we don’t recommend doing so when there are safer alternatives available.

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  • Moisturizer As Anal Lube (Unsafe): Although lotion may be considered sometimes safe to use as a lube, moisturizer isn’t. Although they do have some similarities, lotion has a much higher water content when compared to moisturizer. Additionally, moisturizer is designed to deliver vitamins, antioxidants, peptides, anti-inflammatory ingredients, or minerals that are absorbed deeply into the skin. When used as a lube during anal sex, however, those ingredients can be irritating to delicate anal skin.

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  • Neosporin As Anal Lube (Unsafe): This popular antibacterial ointment may seem like a great option for an anal lube but it is petroleum-based and its antibacterial properties can interfere with the good bacteria that are found in the anus. Additionally, Neosporin is absorbed into the skin easily and if used as an anal lube, would require reapplication often.

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  • Precum As Anal Lube: If you’re not concerned about the transmission of STIs between you and your partner, precum can be a safe lube. That said, it dries out rather quickly and isn’t going to add hydration or moisture as other lubricants would, so we don’t recommend using it for anal sex. Additionally, there is generally a limited supply of precum available — which means there won’t be enough to provide adequate lubrication.

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  • Shampoo As Anal Lube (Unsafe): Shampoo should never be used as a lubricant. Most shampoos contain a wide range of ingredients including detergents and added fragrances that can be irritating to the delicate skin of the anus, potentially leading to infection.

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  • Shaving Cream As Anal Lube: Shaving creams and gels are typically made using a variety of ingredients and added fragrances that can be irritating to the anus. If a product is fragrance-free and made using limited and safe ingredients, as in the case of some “natural” shaving creams or gels, it may be safe to use as lubricant — but read the ingredient list carefully.

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  • Soap As Anal Lube (Unsafe): Soap is made from detergents that are much too harsh for your sensitive anal tissues and is not safe to use internally — even if it’s made from safe and natural ingredients like shea butter or coconut oil. Additionally, soap only activates with water and as it dries, it gets sticky — not slippery.

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  • Spit As Anal Lube (Unsafe): Spit is not considered safe as an anal lube because it dries out quickly and does not offer the same kind of glide as formulated lubes. There is also a risk of STIs when using saliva as lube.

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  • Sunscreen As Anal Lube (Unsafe): The active ingredients found in most sunscreens include titanium dioxide and zinc oxide and are too harsh for anal use. The high risk of skin irritation aside, sunscreen is absorbed into the skin, meaning reapplication will be required if it’s used as a lube.

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  • Toothpaste As Anal Lube (Unsafe): Toothpaste has many ingredients that aren’t safe to use as anal lube such as propylene glycol, mint, menthol, or cinnamon flavoring — all of which could cause extreme irritation to rectal tissues.

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  • Vaseline As Anal Lube: Vaseline is made from petroleum and mineral oil. Although it may be considered sometimes safe as a lube alternative for external masturbation, we don’t recommend using it as anal lube because of its risk for skin irritation and subsequent infection.

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  • Vegetable Glycerin As Anal Lube (Unsafe): Glycerin is a common ingredient in personal lubricants but it is one we never recommend. Vegetable glycerin is thick and viscous, which might make it seem like a good choice as an anal lube — but glycerin is a type of sugar that can lead to yeast overgrowth and infections.

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  • Vegetable Oil As Anal Lube: Vegetable oil has a thick and rich texture that can seem like a perfect match for anal sex. It may be safe to use as a lube in some instances, however, we do not recommend using vegetable oil as anal lube. The components found in vegetable oil are dense and can clog pores, leading to irritation and potential infection.

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  • Water As Anal Lube: Although water can be considered a safe lube alternative in some circumstances, it’s not a wise choice as anal lube. It isn’t unsafe if it is clean or purified, however, water is too thin to reduce friction and it won’t provide adequate lubrication for anal sex.

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  • Yogurt As Anal Lube: Unflavored, unsweetened, plain yogurt can sometimes be used safely as a lube, but it isn’t a good option during anal sex. Living cultures found in yogurt can breed bacteria and spread infection, especially because it can’t easily be washed or removed from the anal cavity. Like butter, yogurt is milk-based and may go rancid. Under no circumstances should flavored yogurt be used as a lube — the sugars from added sweeteners or fruit can lead to yeast overgrowth and infection.
Click here to read our full review of the best and safest anal lubes.

In Conclusion

When it comes to anal sex, comfort and safety should be the most important factors to consider — not your personal convenience in the heat of the moment.

Reaching for an anal lube alternative at home will save you a trip to the drugstore today, but you might be making one to your doctor’s office tomorrow.

While safe anal lube alternatives do exist, our best advice is to always try to stick with a specially formulated anal lubricant since they are safer and easier to use.

Your booty will thank you for it.