4 Best Lubes For Sensitive Skin – Formulated Just For Delicate Bits

When your skin is sensitive AF, the wrong lube can leave you in misery. Instead, use a lubricant specially formulated to protect your most delicate parts.
Photograph Of Hand Applying Aloe Cadabra To Fingertip, Demonstrating Its Safety For Sensitive Skin
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Updated:December 2023

In A Hurry? Start With Our Top 8 Lubricants For Sensitive Skin

If you need a lube that leaves your sensitive skin feeling and looking great during and after sex, our top picks are perfect for even the most delicate skin.

Note: All of our recommendations are free from glycerin, parabens, capsaicin, benzocaine, added fragrances, flavors, and dyes.

Although these ingredients can be irritating or toxic, such effects can be worse for people with sensitive skin. At the same time, some ingredients increase the chances of developing a vaginal infection, as we’ll discuss. We also did not include any products that contain THC or CBD.

When choosing the best lubes for sensitive skin, we considered: their intended use, how they’re formulated to benefit sensitive skin, the number and type of ingredients, additives, potential allergens, performance, texture, and consistency.

Additionally, we reached out to every manufacturer to investigate the pH and osmolality for the water-based products we recommended, listing their values with each. We’ll explain what these terms mean and why they’re important.

As a result of our strict safety and performance criteria, none of our recommended products are rated below a 4 out of 5 and represent the absolute best products available.

Click on a product name to jump directly to that product review, or start at the top.

When your skin is sensitive AF, using the wrong product can leave you in absolute misery. If the idea of applying anything new down there makes you shudder in fear, we understand (and share) your concerns.

The mucous membranes of our genitals are some of the most sensitive parts of our body — and that’s one of the reasons why sex feels so good, to begin with. But when the wrong product gets too close, no one is going to have a good time.

We researched and found the very best lubricants for sensitive skin so you can enjoy sex whenever you’re in the mood for it — without irritation.

In this review of everything you need to know about the best lubes for sensitive skin, 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.

The Best Lubricants For Sensitive Skin Available Right Now

When you have sensitive skin, figuring out what’s safe for your body can be an endeavor fraught with trial and error.

“Hot and bothered” takes on a whole new meaning when your skin is inflamed with a burning, itching rash — and super sexy times are the worst time to discover that something is going to cause a reaction.

The lubes on our list are formulated with safe, gentle ingredients that will feel good during sex and on your sensitive skin overall.

We still advise that you always do a patch test of any lube — even those from our recommendations below — to check for reactions before using them as directed.

All of the lubes for sensitive skin we recommend have met our rigorous performance and safety standards. They are free from harmful chemicals (like parabens) and additives (like glycerin) while being skin-friendly, so you can dive right in with confidence.

Not sure what any of that means or why it’s important?

Don’t worry, we’ll explain the science and best-in-class features we looked for later in this review.

For now, let’s jump right into our top picks.

As a result of our strict safety and performance criteria, none of the sensitive skin lubes we recommend are rated below a 4 out of 5 and represent the absolute best products available.

1. AH! YES WB (For Sensitive Vaginal Skin)

Top Pick: Thick Formula
$27.99 (5.1 oz)
  • Extra-Thick Formula, Cushiony Texture
  • 96% Organic Ingredients
  • No Added Fragrances, Flavors Or Dyes
  • Ideal For Those With Sensitive Skin
  • Compatible With All Sex Toys And Condoms
  • Might Be Too Thick For Some
  • No Pump Dispenser
  • Not Waterproof
Osmolality: 260-290 mOsm/kg (Passes WHO Standards)
pH Level: 3.8 to 4.2 (Balanced For Vaginal Use)
Bottom Line: As one of our team's favorite lubricants, this long-lasting, ultra-hydrating product provides incredible comfort and glide during vaginal sex and won't mask your partner's natural taste during oral sex. With a velvety texture that’s thicker than you’ll find in most water-based lubes while being kind to delicate skin, AH! YES WB uses a luxurious formula made from organic ingredients you can trust.
$23.79 @ AH! YES -> CODE: WHI $27.99 @ Lovehoney

AH! YES WB – Organic Water-Based Personal Lubricant uses limited ingredients that are almost fully organic, with plenty of hydration from aloe vera — it has everything sensitive skin needs and none of what it doesn’t.

The full ingredient list for AH! YES WB: water, aloe vera, flax seed extract, guar gum, locust bean gum, xanthan gum, sodium chloride, potassium sorbate, citric acid, phenoxyethanol.

Even more important to sensitive vaginas is its pH balance and a low osmolality that passes WHO standards — a high bar that few lubes ever cross.

Explore AH! YES WB below:

Screenshot Of A Youtube Video About AH! YES WB - Organic Water-Based Personal Lubricant

One reviewer raved, “I have tried many brands of lubricant — YES is by FAR the best! I will never use any others — this one is GREAT!!! Not greasy, oily or sticky. Feels totally natural. Does not irritate or burn. Just feels fantastic.”

Although this lube has a thick, lush consistency, it’s not one we recommend for anal sex — for two reasons.

First, the pH isn’t right for your sensitive booty; you’d need lube with a pH between 5.5 and 7 to keep your rectal skin happy.

Second, water-based lubes dry out after a while, making reapplication necessary. Choose a thicker oil or silicone-based lube designed for sensitive butts or another anal lubricant instead.

The squeeze bottle can be messy for some users, and the need to re-apply is less fun for those longer sexy sessions. Especially if you like to bring your fun into the shower — water-based lubes rinse away too easily.

But overall, AH! YES WB is an excellent choice for sensitive vaginas that need extra hydration.

2. AH! YES OB (For Sensitive Vaginal And Anal Skin)

Staff Favorite!
$27.99 (4.7 oz)
  • One Of The Few Lubricants That Meets The Soil Association’s Organic Standards; Certified as 99% Organic
  • Extremely Hydrating And Long-Lasting Because It’s Oil-Based
  • Waterproof; Safe For Condoms Made From Polyurethane, Nitrile, Or Lambskin
  • No Added Flavors, Fragrances, Or Dyes
  • Great For Vaginal And Anal Sex
  • Personally Reviewed By Women’s Health Interactive
  • Not For Use With Latex Or Polyisoprene Condoms, Dental Dams, Or Latex Diaphragms
  • Sweet Almond Oil Or Sunflower Seed Oil Could Be Allergens To Some
  • Not Safe For Oral Sex, As Its Thickness May Present A Choking Hazard
  • No Pump Dispenser So Application Can Be Messy
  • Can Stain Fabric
Bottom Line: The best in natural and organic lubricants, AH! YES OB Natural Plant-Oil Based Lubricant is an organic lubricant that you can feel good about using in more ways than one. This product is great for anyone who wants a hydrating, waterproof lubricant made with the very best ingredients.
$23.79 @ AH! YES -> CODE: WHI $27.99 @ Lovehoney

Believe it or not, oil-based lubes can be excellent options for sensitive skin, as long as they’re formulated well and made with the right ingredients.

AH! YES OB Natural Plant-Oil Based Personal Lubricant is a great option if you want a longer-lasting lube with a thicker consistency for your most sensitive parts, especially during anal sex.

→ The full ingredient list for AH! YES OB: sunflower seed oil, shea butter, sweet almond oil, beeswax, cocoa seed butter, vitamin E.

Several of the ingredients are considered safe as standalone lube alternatives — including sunflower oil, sweet almond oil, shea butter, and vitamin E.

Putting them together in the right formulation can actually help your sensitive skin — provided you don’t have existing allergies to any of the ingredients.

Women’s Health Interactive’s Editor-In-Chief Alison Huff personally reviewed this product, saying, “AH! YES OB is incredibly slippery. Surprisingly, it wasn’t greasy and once I washed it off, my skin was left feeling velvet-soft and nourished.”

“As someone who’s going through perimenopause and dealing with occasional bouts of hormone-induced dryness, this lubricant felt completely natural and left no stickiness behind,” she continued.

Take a closer look at AH! YES OB below:

Screenshot Of A Youtube Video About Ah Yes OB Oil-Based Lube

Oil-based lubes last a long time, so re-application is less important and they’re waterproof, making them great for sex in watery conditions.

As good as this lube is for your sensitive bits, however, it’s not perfect in every situation.

You’ll need to avoid AH! YES OB if you have known allergies to nut-based products.

Additionally, oil lubes can’t be used with porous or rubber sex toys, nor with latex condoms or dental dams. Additionally, you generally shouldn’t use oil-based lubes for oral sex but there are plenty of edible lubes out there.

Finally, any oil-based product (including this one) can definitely stain your sheets, so don’t use the good ones when you’re getting busy.

If you love anal sex, the thick, viscous glide of AH! YES OB will keep your sensitive booty slick, safe, and, above all, satisfied — but it’s equally perfect for vaginal use, too!

3. Aloe Cadabra (For Sensitive Vaginal Skin)

Top Pick: Lightweight Formula
Aloe Cadabra Personal Lubricant
$11.95 (2.5 oz)
  • Great For “Lube Virgins” And Pros Alike
  • Available In 18 Delicious Flavors & Scents
  • 2-In-1 Vaginal Moisturizer And Personal Lubricant
  • 95% Organic Aloe Vera, Non-Sticky
  • Compatible With All Sex Toys And Condoms
  • No Pump Dispenser
  • Not As Long-Lasting As Others
  • Not Waterproof
Osmolality: 172 mOsm/kg (Passes WHO Standards)
pH Level: 3.8 to 4.2 (Balanced For Vaginal Use)
Bottom Line: Keep sexy time wet and wild with a barely noticeable formula that mimics your body’s own lubrication — in the tastiest way! Personally reviewed by Women’s Health Interactive, Aloe Cadabra Natural Personal Lubricant is lightweight, versatile, and made with 95% food-grade, NSF Certified Organic aloe vera so you can feel good about using it — inside and out! Available in 18 delicious flavors and scents, Aloe Cadabra takes vaginal and oral sex to new heights.
$10.16 @ Aloe Cadabra -> CODE: MyOrganicAloe $16.99 @ HotCherry
Aloe Cadabra continues to be among our favorite lubes of all time — for everyone, whether you have sensitive skin or not.

Not only is the unscented version ideal for sensitive skin, the flavored options let you have all the fun of lubed oral sex with none of the worries that typical sweet lubricants bring with them.

→ The full ingredient list for Aloe Cadabra (unscented): organic aloe leaf juice, vitamin E oil, xanthan gum, citric acid, food-grade sodium benzoate, food-grade potassium sorbate, organic vanilla planifolia concentrate.

Aloe Cadabra is a perfect lube for sensitive vaginas, thanks to the pH balance of 3.8 to 4.2 and extremely low osmolality of 172 mOsm/kg. It’s nearly as close as you can get to water but with the luscious viscosity you need in a lube.

And it’s ideal for sensitive skin.

In a personal review, Women’s Health Interactive writer Vanessa Russell talked about how sensitive her skin can be.

“Even my own body’s fluids can cause itching and irritation,” Vanessa said. “So you can imagine my concern about using a personal lubricant for the first time — specifically in that area.”

She continued:

“I am happy to say that while using both the unflavored and flavored versions, my skin never reacted once. That was definitely a first for me and such a pleasant surprise.

For someone who has battled eczema her whole life, having a product I know I can rely on to not contribute to my skin issues is a Godsend!”

Watch her full unboxing and review below:

Both the unscented and flavored versions of Aloe Cadabra are edible, meaning they’re safe to eat and swallow during oral sex.

As good as Aloe Cadabra is, it’s not formulated with your butt in mind — thanks to the low pH — so stick with vaginal use only.

Sensitive vaginas don’t have to do without flavored lube, you simply need the find the right one, and Aloe Cadabra has you covered.

Even better, with ten flavors available, you’re sure to find something that feels and tastes good to you!

4. Sliquid Naturals H2O (For Sensitive Vaginal Skin)

Colorless, Odorless, Flavorless!
Sliquid Naturals H20 Sliquid Naturals H20
$14.00 (4.2 oz)
  • Mimics Your Body’s Own Lubrication — Only Better
  • Long-Lasting Vegan Formula Is Kind To Sensitive Skin
  • Colorless, Odorless, And Flavorless With Just 5 Body-Safe Ingredients
  • Compatible With All Sex Toys And Condoms
  • No Pump Dispenser So Application Can Be Messy
  • Not As Long-Lasting As Silicone Or Oil-Based-Lubricants
  • Can’t Be Used For Sex In The Bath Or Shower
Osmolality: 500-700 mOsm/kg (Meets WHO Recommendations)
pH Level: 4.0 to 4.4 (Balanced For Vaginal Use)
Bottom Line: Sliquid Naturals H20 is a best-seller for a reason — it has an amazing vegan formula that doesn’t compromise on quality or performance. Emulating your body’s natural lubrication, this product is incredibly slick and is perfect for those with sensitive skin.

Limited ingredients are absolutely necessary when dealing with sensitive skin — the more ingredients there are, the greater the potential for irritation.

Part of what makes Sliquid Naturals H20 so freaking good for sensitive skin is that it only has five ingredients.

→ The full ingredient list for Sliquid Naturals H2O: purified water, plant cellulose (from cotton), cyamopsis (guar conditioners), potassium sorbate, citric acid.

You don’t have to become a chemist to figure out whether you’re allergic to something or if you’re dealing with known ingredients that send your vag into a red-hot crisis.

Sliquid knows that irritation is all too common for many users of lube, so they made Sliquid Naturals H2O with sensitive skin in mind, using plant cellulose as a thickening agent instead of the overly used (and not at all good for sensitive skin) glycerin or other sugar derivatives.

Explore Sliquid Naturals H2O below:

Screenshot Of A Youtube Video About Sliquid Naturals H20

Instead of slathering on lube and hoping your vagina doesn’t react with a nasty yeast infection, you can apply with peace of mind and happy vulvar skin.

It’s pH-balanced for your sensitive vag and meets WHO recommendations for osmolality, making it ideal for the delicate terrain of your vagina.

One reviewer said it best: “I have a sensitive vag, and I’ve never had any issues with this lube, so I can play without worrying!”

However, if you hate having to reapply your lube during sex, this may not be the one for you. Because it’s made with water, it will definitely require application if you’re going at it for a long period of time.

But if you love a lube that feels close to your body’s natural lubrication and keeps your vagina happy (instead of irritated), this colorless, odorless, and flavorless lube could be your new favorite.

Why Use Lube Designed For Sensitive Skin Vs. Others

Photograph Of Hand Apply Good Clean Love Almost Naked To Fingers, Demonstrating Its Safety For Sensitive Skin

Medical review board member, Dr. Susan Milstein, explained that sensitive skin occurs in one of two ways:

“The use of the term sensitive skin is an interesting one — for some people ‘sensitive skin’ means it’s more likely to react to things if exposed. For other people, it’s about how easy it is to damage.”

Basically, our genitals and butt are overly sensitive divas who need to be treated just so in order to give us maximum pleasure.

And that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Treating those parts of our body well means we get plenty of orgasms and feel-good moments, alone or with a partner.

Why Use A Lube For Sensitive Skin

Even if the skin on your face and body can handle any fragrance, essential oil, dye, or other common irritants, our genitals are another story.

The skin in these delicate areas is extra-sensitive. If one wrong substance gets anywhere close, your vagina or anus may start to burn, turn red, and even itch — and it can happen regardless of whether you have known sensitivities or allergies.

Nothing kills the mood like irritated skin, which is why using a lube formulated for sensitive skin is so important.

So what does it mean to have sensitive skin on your vagina or anus?

It’s all about our mucous membranes.

Vulvar skin is the only area, aside from the face, where those membranes are exposed to the outside world. When they come in contact with a substance that causes irritation, the effect is pretty immediate.

Dr. Milstein explained, “When we talk about the vulva being sensitive it is often because it can react strongly to chemicals (one of the reasons we want to wash it with a mild soap that’s fragrance-free) and also because of the number of nerve endings.”

Vulvar skin is also more hydrated than other areas of the body, which means it’s more permeable to different ingredients in lube.

If you’re sensitive to those ingredients, you’re going to feel it, thanks to the many nerves located in the vulva.

It’s sensitive to pleasure — and that makes it equally sensitive to pain.

What about the anus? It’s equally sensitive, but for slightly different reasons. You can blame the lack of natural lubrication.

“When we talk about the anal tissue being sensitive, it’s because it can tear easily. Part of this is because it doesn’t self-lubricate,” Dr. Milstein explained.

The skin inside your butt is delicate and easily injured, which is why lube is so important for anal sex.

But that thin skin is also more permeable and easily irritated than the skin on the rest of your body. Like vulvar skin, the anus is also filled with nerve-endings, so when you introduce an irritant, you’re going to feel it.

Signs Of Sensitive Skin & Lubricant Reactions

You might be wondering what it feels like when your skin is sensitive to the lubricant you’re using. The good (and bad) news is that you’ll know it almost immediately.

You’re likely to experience some combination of the following:

  • Itching
  • Burning
  • Stinging
  • Tingling
  • Rash
  • Red skin

Whenever you feel pain or see a rash or redness, discontinue the use of your lube immediately. 

More importantly, get it off your skin as soon as possible. Yes, even if you need to interrupt sex to do it.

Pros Of Using Personal Lubricants For Sensitive Skin

  • They are formulated to be as gentle as possible and are pH balanced if water-based
  • They lower your risk of irritation or adverse reaction
  • They prevent damage to delicate genital skin and tissue
  • They lower your risk of infection
  • They’re typically made with a short list of safe ingredients
  • Some are made from ingredients that are organically harvested
  • Some are fertility-friendly if hydroxyethylcellulose is on the ingredient list

Cons Of Using Personal Lubricants For Sensitive Skin

  • You may still develop a skin reaction, regardless of their mild formulas
  • You may be allergic to specific ingredients in a lubricant made for sensitive skin (always check the label!)
  • Depending on their formula, they may not be compatible with all of the activities you’d prefer to do (ie. anal or oral sex)
  • Lubes that have a pH (water-based only) are balanced either for vaginal or anal use — never both

When Should You Use A Water-Based, Silicone, Or Oil-Based Lube?

Every type of personal lubricant designed for sensitive skin has its own pros and cons, so how do you know which one will best suit your needs?

Our lube comparison table below will help you to answer that question — quickly and easily.

Lube Type:
Oral Sex Yes Yes Not usually
Vaginal Sex ONLY if pH/Osmolality suitable Yes Yes
Anal Sex ONLY if pH/Osmolality suitable Yes Yes
Condom Types All All Polyurethane, nitrile and lambskin only
Sex Toy Types All All but silicone All but latex
Bath/Shower Use No Yes Yes
Does It Stain? No Yes Yes
Lube Type:
Oral Sex
Vaginal Sex
Anal Sex
Condom Types
Sex Toy Types
Bath/Shower Use
Does It Stain?

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Is Lube Formulated For Sensitive Skin Actually Safe?

Yes and no.

Lube safety depends on two things: your body’s reaction to the product and the way you intend to use the lube.

If you have sensitive skin, you already know you need to be careful when choosing a lubricant — any old product isn’t going to cut it.

Lubes formulated with sensitive skin in mind tend to be better for everyone, but that does not mean they are equally safe for everyone.

You can still have a skin reaction to an ingredient, even if a lubricant is formulated for sensitive skin.

That being said, no matter what kind of lube you choose, always do a patch test on your skin to check for reactions. If the skin on your arm turns red or feels itchy, your genitals will definitely feel it, too.

Additionally, some lubes aren’t safe for all activities.

For instance, oil-based lubes can’t be used with latex condoms or porous sex toys. Silicone lubes should not be used with sex toys made from silicone, as they’ll degrade the material.

Lubes with aloe vera as an ingredient generally need to be avoided by anyone with a latex allergy unless the product is manufactured in a way that removes the plant’s natural latex thoroughly, such as Aloe Cadabra.

Water-based personal lubricants, in general, tend to be safe for almost everyone, as long as you check the ingredients for known allergens and it’s formulated with the right pH and a low osmolality.

Some lubes are also made to be safely ingested during oral sex, often including safe flavorings that are edible and enhance oral sex.

Lubes can expire, but in general, they are good anywhere from a year to three years. Check the bottle for an expiration date. And if you pull a dusty, crusty bottle out of a drawer, it’s probably best to throw it away and buy more.

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What To Look For In Lubes For Sensitive Skin

Photograph Of Towel-Wrapped Woman Post-Shower, Holding Two Bottles Of Lubricant While Reading The Labels

There are literally thousands of lubes to choose from, whether you walk into a sex toy shop or your local grocery store, or you shop online.

That’s where we can help.

We’ll walk you through how we chose our top lubes for sensitive skin, how you can identify what is likely to work for you — and what you definitely don’t want to put anywhere near your tender bits.

In this section, we’ll talk about:

What To Look For A High-Quality Lube For Sensitive Skin

Some of the things to look for in a lubricant when you have sensitive skin are universal for anyone choosing lube.

Look for safe ingredients, which we’ll talk about later on, and a product that doesn’t include known allergens or things you may be sensitive to.

There are other things to consider, including pH balance and osmolality.

Dr. Susan Milstein, the medical review board member we heard from earlier, explains it like this:

“If your body is already prone to reacting more harshly with chemicals and changes in the environment, then using a lube that isn’t a good pH fit, or has the wrong osmolality, will result in even more discomfort and possible complications.”

Beyond ingredients, pH, and osmolality that is within World Health Organization standards, FDA approval is important as well.

Finally, the last consideration is how the lube performs during use.

All of these factors are reflected in our ratings.

When choosing the best personal lubricants for sensitive skin, we considered:

  • Limited Ingredients: The fewer ingredients in the lube, the better it tends to be for delicate skin, in general.
  • Natural Ingredients: Just because you can make lube out of some ingredients (like glycerin and parabens) doesn’t mean you should. Many ingredients are known to be better for the skin, which means they’re less likely to cause irritation for those with sensitive skin.
  • Allergens: This is an important consideration, particularly for products that are aloe-based (latex allergies) or use oils derived from nuts or seeds. Although they are safe ingredients overall, sensitivities and allergies to these ingredients are common, so be sure to read through a product’s ingredient list to make sure it doesn’t contain anything you are sensitive or allergic to.
  • Additives: Lubes with added fragrances or dyes can be irritating, even to those who don’t typically suffer from sensitive skin. Some flavors can be safe as long as they are natural in origin and aren’t sweetened with sugar (or sugar derivatives), which can promote yeast infections.
  • Formulation: Lubes that closely align with the environment they’re going to be used in, like the vagina or anus, tend to cause less irritation. Although silicone and oil-based lubricants do not have pH or osmolality, those factors do matter in water-based products. For this reason, water-based lubricants should have a pH and osmolality that matches the skin it will come in contact with.
  • Texture/Consistency: We looked at lubricants that mimic your body’s natural lubrication as well as those with thicker consistencies, keeping in mind that the personal preference for this can vary.
  • What People With Sensitive Skin Say: One of the best ways to know how well a product really works is from honest reviews. It’s not enough for a company to claim they’ve made a lube for sensitive vaginas or sensitive butts — what do people with sensitive skin have to say about it? Of the lubes on this list, reviewers with sensitive skin swear by their brand of choice.
  • Performance: Lastly, we considered the way a personal lubricant performs. After all, even if a lube works great, if it has dangerous chemicals or additives that can lead to infections or increase your risk of irritation, how it performs is secondary.

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What Are The Safest Ingredients In Lubes For Sensitive Skin?

The first thing to look for when trying to choose a lubricant for your sensitive skin is what ingredients are in it.

Safe Ingredients In Personal Lubricants For Sensitive Skin:

**Naturally-derived oils may be included in trace amounts in some water-based lubricants. Barring allergies or personal sensitivities, they are generally safe for everyone. 

Pure aloe vera is extremely moisturizing and nourishing for the skin. Those with a known allergy to it or latex need to avoid it. However, if you’re not allergic, it’s a perfect ingredient for sensitive skin.

It may sound like a complicated term, but propylene glycol is really a nontoxic and noncarcinogenic type of alcohol that’s typically used as a skin conditioning agent.

Hydroxyethylcellulose is derived from plants and is often used in vaginal lube made for sensitive skin and those designed to promote fertility. It’s body-safe and reduces vaginal dryness and irritation.

It also doesn’t impact sperm motility making it an important ingredient for lubes to use when you’re trying to conceive, which we’ll talk about in just a moment.

Dimethicone is only used in silicone lubes and studies have shown it to be generally safe as an ingredient. There are ingredients to avoid in silicone-based lube, but this isn’t one of them.

  • Safety Of Lubricant Ingredients When Trying To Conceive

The way the pH of a lubricant affects fertility isn’t fully understood yet and the research is generally inconclusive as far as whether lubricant has any significant effect on fertility.

Even so, most sources suggest that using a water-based lubricant is okay when trying to conceive.

Lubricants with hydroxyethylcellulose are best for those trying to conceive because they closely resemble natural vaginal mucus and they won’t decrease sperm motility.

That said, some water-based lubricants with hydroxyethylcellulose also include parabens, which are best avoided.

Products that contain parabens are not included in our list of recommendations.

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What Ingredients Should You Avoid If You Have Sensitive Skin?

If an ingredient is generally unsafe for everyone, it’s definitely unsafe if you have sensitive skin.

But there are other considerations if your skin is easily irritated.

Ingredients to avoid in lube if you have sensitive skin:

Why You Need Glycerin-Free Lube For Sensitive Skin

Lube made with glycerin makes it harder for good bacteria in the vagina to thrive which leads to yeast infections. It can also be irritating to those with sensitive skin.

It might surprise you to know that the vast majority of water-based lubricants have glycerin on their ingredient list.

In fact, glycerin raises the osmolality of personal lubricant, which can make it more likely to irritate delicate genital or anal skin.

None of the products we recommend include glycerin.

Why You Need A Paraben-Free Lube For Sensitive Skin

Parabens are typically used as preservatives in lubricants but they are suspected endocrine disruptors. Additionally, the CDC has advised that the health effects from exposure to low amounts of parabens is unknown.

It’s always better to be safe than sorry, especially when you’ve got sensitive skin.

All of our recommendations are without parabens.

Additional Sensitive Skin Lube Ingredients To Avoid

Capsaicin and benzocaine are often found in lubes that cause sensation — think tingling and warming types.

If you have sensitive skin, you’re going to feel these effects much more intensely, which can be a mood killer and a potential source of major irritation.

Lidocaine numbs the skin, which might seem like a good idea if you’re having rough sex but you might not notice pain — or any other reactions. This makes it a bad idea for anyone with sensitive skin.

Additionally, lidocaine can cause dryness, swelling, and irritation of vaginal skin.

Cyclomethicone is often found in silicone lubes. Its use has been linked to reproductive harm, including uterine cancers.

Dr. Milstein, our medical review board member we spoke with earlier, wants those with sensitive skin to say away from two other ingredients: fragrances and spermicide.

“It’s so easy for people to overlook how much the chemicals that create fragrance can affect sensitive skin,” she said.

Additionally, Nonoxynol-9 is a common ingredient found in spermicides but it can irritate sensitive genital skin, making it more prone to infection.

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Why Lube pH Matters For Sensitive Skin

You’ve likely heard of pH balance before, usually in terms of skincare. The pH measures how acidic or alkaline something is, like the inside of a vagina or anus. When a water-based lubricant is “pH-balanced” that means its pH closely mirrors the body’s natural pH levels.

When the pH is out of balance — either too low or too high, this can lead to irritation and the risk of infection. Why? Because an out-of-balance pH can damage vaginal and rectal tissue.

If you have sensitive skin, it’s extremely important to know the pH of any water-based lube you use.

Silicone and oil-based lubricants do not have a pH value because they generally do not contain water.

Vaginal lubes should have a pH of around 4.5 to most closely align with the natural pH of the vagina, which can be anywhere from 3.8 to 4.5.

Anal lubes should have a pH between 5.5 and 7 to most closely match the natural pH of the rectum. This is somewhere between 7 and 8.

Many water-based lubes marketed as anal lubes have an ideal pH for the vagina, not the butt. Make sure your “pH-balanced lube” is balanced for the area where you intend to use it.

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Why Lube Osmolality Matters For Sensitive Skin

An important number to know when looking for a water-based lube that’s best suited to your sensitive skin is osmolality.

This measures the concentration of ingredients that aren’t water in any water-based lubricant.

The just-right osmolality keeps the hydration of the vulvar and rectal skin balanced, which reduces dryness and irritation. With the wrong osmolality, even lubes made with the best ingredients may still cause problems.

Vaginal osmolality is 285 to 295 mOsm/kg. Rectal osmolality is around 290 mOsm/kg. Most mass-marketed lubes (think brands you can get in the grocery store) are nowhere near the correct osmolality to protect sensitive skin.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has two markers for osmolality. Lubricants with a 380 mOsm/kg or lower pass WHO standards. This is the gold star of lube hydration.

Lubes between 381 and 1200 mOsm/kg meet WHO recommendations. This might not get a gold star, but it’s still much better than many popular lubes that have osmolalities in the 3000s!

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FDA Approval Of Personal Lubricants

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) classifies personal lubricants as “Class II medical devices.”

The makers of these devices, including personal lubricant manufacturers, are required to register their product(s) for 510(k) clearance (FDA approval).

Our lube recommendations for sensitive skin have either a registered 501(k) clearance certificate on file with the FDA as of this writing or were exempt from providing one.

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The Texture, Consistency, And Performance Of Lubricants For Sensitive Skin

Barring decidedly thicker formulations, water-based lubricants usually have a texture and consistency that feels very similar to your body’s natural lubrication — which is ideal for those who don’t want to use a product that feels like lube.

At the same time, their texture is often too thin for anal sex and their pH level isn’t high enough for that activity, either. Additionally, they “dry out” and tend to need reapplication during longer sex sessions.

The texture of silicone and oil-based lubes is one that resembles silk and offers a lot of glide, but they tend to be more noticeable when you’re using them — in a somewhat unnatural way.

Silicone and oil-based lubricants are better suited to anal sex because they’re thicker in texture and last longer — needing fewer reapplications during sex.

As a result, we chose a variety of textures, consistencies, and formulations in our selections.

Lube Alternatives For Sensitive Skin

Because of how much damage a single incorrect ingredient, formulation, or pH and osmolality balance can impact sensitive skin, it can be a risky move to use lube alternatives.

The chances of irritation and redness are extremely high.

That being said, sometimes you’re in a sex-bind and need something to lube up with. Right now.

Single-ingredient options, like aloe vera and coconut oil, are likely the best choice — unless you have a known allergy or sensitivity to either (or both).

For instance, people with latex allergies cannot use home-grown aloe vera gel unless they are adept at removing it from the natural latex layer in the leaf thoroughly.

Reaching for soap, lotion, or some other slippery alternative is not advised.

Just because a product feels fine on your face or body doesn’t mean your vag or butt will like it. Remember, vulvar and rectal skin are much more sensitive areas.

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In Conclusion

Choosing a lube for your sensitive skin doesn’t need to feel stressful. The best lubes for sensitive skin that we recommend have hopefully taken some of the worry, frustration, and guesswork out of the process for you.

Knowing a few key things, like pH balance and osmolality, while paying attention to the ingredient list on the label can help you find the perfect-for-you lube.

And yes, it all matters. Vaginas and butts are some of the most sensitive parts of our bodies.

Once you find a lube that does its job without causing pain or irritation, you can focus on what matters most — the sex you want (and deserve!) to have.