No matter what you like to do when you’re getting busy in the bedroom, a great lubricant is almost guaranteed to make nearly any sexual activity better.
Water-based lubricants are a great choice for many reasons, but they are not created equal.
Some products can potentially lead to vaginal infections or leave your vagina feeling dry and parched — which is totally counterproductive and a recipe for some major misery!
Additionally, using the wrong lubricant for anal sex can potentially damage delicate rectal tissue, making you more prone to infection.
Overall, water-based sex lubes have a lightweight consistency and offer fantastic versatility. They can be used with sex toys, latex condoms, or even dental dams — making the right ones good options to try.
Aida Manduley, LCSW (Licensed Clinical Social Worker) and sexuality educator, told us that water-based lubricants are ideal because they:
- Are easy to wash off of clothing or sheets
- Can reactivate with water or saliva
- Are compatible with all safe sex barriers and toys
- Are often cheaper and more readily available in drugstores compared to other lubricants
Sounds awesome, right? Definitely — but it’s important not to assume a lube will be great just because it’s water-based.
Everything from the product’s ingredients to its dispenser can affect whether or not you’ll enjoy a certain lubricant, and your preferences are likely just as unique as you are.
Luckily, we’ve done the heavy lifting, talking with experts and researching what you need to look out for before using a water-based lube.
In our review of water-based lubricants, we’re going to:
- Summarize all the pros and cons of water-based lubes
- Talk about the safety of water-based lubricants:
- Explain what they’re typically made from
- Discuss potentially dangerous chemicals
- Explain why all personal lubricants require FDA approval
- Talk about osmolality (weird word, but it’s important!)
- Talk about pH levels for vaginal and anal sex (also important!)
- Are water-based lubes safe when trying to conceive?
- Share our top 5 water-based lubricants based on all these factors
Pros And Cons Of Water-Based Personal Lubricants
When choosing a water-based sex lubricant, it’s a good idea to be aware of the pros and cons that are associated with them.
Pros Of Using Water-Based Personal Lubricants:
- They’re safe to use with latex condoms or dental dams, and some water-based lubes are also safe for use with polyurethane condoms
- They can be safely used with most sex toys, unlike silicone lubricants
- Water-based lubes are easy to reactivate with water or saliva
- They’re non-staining and easy to clean
- Water-based lubricants are safe to swallow in small amounts
- Currently, all lubricants — including water-based lubricants — must receive FDA approval before being sold in the United States
- Water-based lubes have a lightweight texture
Cons Of Using Water-Based Personal Lubricants:
- They’re not as long-lasting as silicone or oil-based lubricants
- Because they’re water-soluble, they are not waterproof — so shower sex and other water-based sexual activities aren’t an option
- The lightweight texture isn’t necessarily ideal for anal sex
- Some lower-quality lubes may leave unwanted residue behind
Clinical sexologist Caitlin V. Neal, M.P.H. (Master of Public Health), explained the qualities you should look for in a water-based lube. She told me:
“The best water-based lubes deliver a quality user experience, meaning that they do what you want them to do without any significant inconveniences. The best water-based lubes stay put, last a while, don’t taste like chemicals, make sex feel better and ultimately you forget that they’re even there. And they do it all with high-quality ingredients that don’t irritate your body.”
Are Water-Based Lubricants Safe And What Are They Made From?
As their name suggests, water-based lubricants are made up of water-soluble ingredients, meaning that these types of lubricants will dissolve in water.
In fact, water is often listed as one of the first ingredients.
Swallowing a small amount of water-based lubricant is unlikely to be harmful, although you shouldn’t swallow lube that isn’t meant specifically for consumption.
Otherwise, water-based lubes are generally safe when used as directed.
The individual ingredients in water-based lubes, however, may not always be safe.
Several common ingredients found in many water-based lubes can be surprisingly harmful, and trust me — you don’t want those ingredients anywhere near your genitals!
Ingredients You Should Avoid In Water-Based Lubricants:
- Glycerin (also referred to as glycerine or glycerol)
- Added fragrances, flavors, or dyes
- Any specific ingredients you’re allergic or sensitive to
These potentially toxic or detrimental ingredients are not used in any of our top-rated lubricants.
Let’s start with glycerin.
Additionally, you won’t find parabens in our recommended water-based lubricants, either.
Parabens, which are used as preservatives in silicone, oil, and water-based lubricants, are thought to be endocrine-disruptors and the CDC notes that the “health effects from environmental exposure to low levels of parabens are unknown.”
Other ingredients that aren’t in any of the water-based lubes on our list include synthetic capsaicin and benzocaine.
Capsaicin is an ingredient derived from hot peppers; in fact, it’s where their spicy heat comes from. Capsaicin can be used to produce a warming sensation in personal lubricants.
Although some people enjoy using warming lubes and not all products of this type include this ingredient, capsaicin could have negative effects when used as a lubricant — like being a little too warming.
Getting hot and bothered in the heat of the moment is one thing; feeling like you just lit your naughty bits on fire is quite another.
On the flip side of causing an enhanced sensation is Benzocaine, an ingredient that produces a numbing effect.
Benzocaine can be an irritant, but it also has the potential to make you a little too numb, which could result in you or your partner being more susceptible to injury — especially if you’re experimenting in the sack.
Finally, you’ll note that all of our lubricants contain no added fragrances, flavors, or dyes.
Although some people prefer to have these in their lubricants, such ingredients can be irritants, as well, even if they’re made from natural sources.
Dr. Sara Reardon, PT (Physical Therapist), DPT (Doctor of Physical Therapy), said that as a whole, lubricants “should not cause burning or discomfort,” and that you should avoid “anything that glitters, sparkles, or smells.”
Those are wise words of advice — especially if you’re someone with sensitive skin.
Speaking of sensitivity, when selecting any new lube, be sure to look for any ingredients you’re personally allergic or sensitive to.
Before using any water-based lubricant, you should do a patch test on a small area of skin, like your inner elbow, just to check for potential reactions before you use it as intended.
All Personal Lubricants Must Get FDA Approval
Personal lubricants are classified as “Class II medical devices” by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Manufacturers of such devices, which include personal lubricant manufacturers, must register their product for 510(k) clearance.
This process involves a formal submission to the FDA that demonstrates “that the device to be marketed is as safe and effective, that is, substantially equivalent, to a legally marketed device.”
Unless a product is determined to be exempt from requiring it, a company can market their lube in the United States immediately after receiving 510(k) clearance.
This clearance must be obtained for new products, as well as existing products if there is a significant change made to the recipe or manufacturing process.
The FDA provides a searchable database you can use to verify the 510(k) clearance of any lubricant you already have on hand – or one you intend to purchase in the future.
Luckily, we already did this work for you!
All of our recommendations have either a registered 501(k) clearance certificate on file with the FDA as of this writing, or were exempt from providing one.
Exemption from requiring 510(k) clearance is not necessarily a bad thing. A product that is marketed as a “personal moisturizer” rather than a “personal lubricant,” for instance, may not need it.
That said, a product must be deemed exempt by the FDA — which is a form of approval when 510(k) clearance is not required.
In either instance, you can trust that the product you’re purchasing is approved for sale in the U.S.
- An Important Note On The Osmolality Of Personal Lubricants
When it comes to the safety of a water-based lubricant, it’s also important to consider the product’s osmolality.
Osmolality measures how much of one substance has dissolved into another.
When talking about water-based lubricants, osmolality measures how many chemical particles have been dissolved into water.
Sarah Melancon, Ph.D, is a sociologist, clinical sexologist, and independent researcher. She explained that osmolality is incredibly important in lubricants, telling me:
“A key concern for safety [with water-based lubricants] is osmolality, which is the concentration of a solution, i.e., the amount of content aside from water. (Osmolality is measured in mOsm/kg, which stands for milliosmoles per kilogram of water.)
The World Health Organization recommends personal lubricant osmolality to be less than 380 mOsm/kg. For comparison, vaginal secretions have an osmolality of 260-290 mOsm/kg, and semen is 250-380 mOsm/kg.
If a lube’s osmolality is substantially higher than your body’s cells, it is called hyper-osmolar and can dehydrate and cause damage to the epithelial tissue [meaning cells that protect the body], increasing your risk of dryness, irritation, infections, and STI transmission (including HIV).
If a lube’s osmolality is significantly lower than your body’s cells, it is called hypo-osmolar and your body’s cells will pull water out of the lubricant. These are less dangerous but some still can cause tissue damage.”
Instead of using a hyper-osmolar or hypo-osmolar lubricant, you want a lubricant that’s iso-osmotic, meaning it matches the osmolality of your body.
An iso-osmotic lubricant won’t cause damage to your epithelial cells or leave your skin feeling dry, nor will it increase your risk of infection.
Instead, an iso-osmotic lube will feel comfortable and hydrating — which is what we all want in a lubricant.
While the suggested safest osmolality is below 380 mOsm/kg, the WHO recognizes that most lubes greatly exceed that range and recommends that personal lubes have osmolality less than 1200 mOsm/kg.
All of the personal lubricants included in our recommendations fall within the acceptable range, with an osmolality well below 1200 mOsm/kg, and in some cases below 380.
We verified this information with each company directly to provide accuracy and complete transparency where every lube’s osmolality is concerned.
- A Note About pH Levels In Personal Lubricants For Vaginal And Anal Sex
Beyond the effects of osmolality, it’s also important to understand how the pH of a personal lube can impact your body.
The pH scale ranges from 0 to 14, with 7 being neutral. Anything below 7 is considered acidic, while anything above 7 is considered basic.
Your body’s overall pH is close to being neutral; blood has a pH of 7.4 and cells in your body have a pH of 6.8.
A healthy vagina has a pH of less than 4.5.
For this reason, you generally don’t want your vaginal pH to exceed 4.5, because a higher vaginal pH can increase the likelihood of infections.
Personal lubes that don’t closely match your vaginal pH may not only make you prone to infections, but they can cause dryness and general discomfort — which is the last thing you want a lubricant to do.
When it comes to anal sex, the pH of a personal lubricant is also a concern.
The rectum has a neutral pH between 7 and 8, so lubes with a pH suited for vaginal use (around 4.5), may not be an ideal choice for anal use.
Anal lubricants should be in a pH range between 5.5 to 7.
Water-based lubricants with pH that is too low can damage vaginal and rectal tissue.
For this reason, a pH-balanced personal lube is your best bet — but it’s important to be aware that not all water-based lubricants are pH-balanced.
As a whole, it’s important to do your research to prevent any problems for you or your partner
The lubricants we’ve recommended include pH-balanced options.
Is Water-Based Lube Safe When Trying To Conceive?
If you’re trying to conceive, you want to do everything you can to increase your chances of getting pregnant and in some cases, that might mean changing your lubricant.
The research about how the pH of a lubricant affects fertility isn’t entirely conclusive yet, though some suggest it might be beneficial to use a lubricant with a neutral pH when trying to conceive just to be safe.
The research is also somewhat inconclusive in regard to whether or not lubricant has a major effect on fertility.
One study that performed an in-vitro analysis looked at how some lubes affected the motility and vitality of sperm, finding that certain lubricants seemed to have a negative effect on sperm function.
Despite the research being uncertain, most sources suggest that using a water-based lubricant is okay when trying to conceive.
The Mayo Clinic advises that those trying to conceive should use a lubricant that is hydroxyethylcellulose-based because “these lubricants don’t decrease sperm motility and are the most like natural vaginal mucus.”
This particular ingredient is sometimes found in water-based lubes, including a few on our list.
It’s important to note, however, that some water-based lubricants that include hydroxyethylcellulose and are marketed as being “sperm-friendly” or “safe to use when trying to conceive” also include parabens.
Products that contain parabens are not included in our list.
The 5 Best Water-Based Lubricants Available Right Now
Water-based lubes can vastly improve your sex life — whether you’re into solo play or having fun with a partner.
Offering incredible versatility and a comfortable, lightweight consistency, the right water-based lube means that the possibilities for your sexual adventures are nearly limitless.
When it comes to finding the best product, though, having limitless options isn’t always a good thing.
Staring at countless lubes virtually or on a store shelf — many of which include questionable ingredients or formulations that might make your sex life worse — can be intimidating when you don’t know what to look for.
So, we took the stress and guesswork out of the equation by finding the perfect water-based lubes — each meeting our rigorous standards — free from chemicals, additives, and being osmolality, and pH-friendly.
The only thing you have to decide now is which of these amazing lubes to try first.
A Note On Our Ratings:
All of our recommendations are free from glycerin, parabens, capsaicin, benzocaine, and added fragrances, flavors, and dyes. These ingredients can be irritating or toxic, and some can increase the chances of developing a vaginal infection. We also did not include lubes that contain THC or CBD.
Additionally, we reached out to every manufacturer to investigate the pH and osmolality for the products we recommended, listing their values with each.
AH! YES WB – Organic Water-Based Personal Lubricant
OVERALL SCORE: (5 out of 5)
- Pros: Made With 96% Organic Ingredients As Certified By The Soil Association; Made With Aloe Vera Leaf Juice For Hydration; Guar Gum Gives The Lubricant A Cushiony Feel; Ideal For Those With Sensitive Skin; No Added Fragrances, Flavors, Or Dyes; pH Balanced For Vaginal Use
- Cons: Not Everyone Will Like The Squeeze Tube Application
Bottom Line: AH! YES WB - Organic Water-Based Personal Lubricant is a luxurious water-based lubricant with organic ingredients you can trust. This hydrating water-based lube will make all your fantasies a pleasure to explore.
- pH Score: 3.8 to 4.2 (safest for vaginal use)
- Osmolality Score: 260-290 mOsm/kg (Passing)
If you love the versatility of water-based lubes but want something with a thicker consistency, AH! YES WB – Organic Water-Based Personal Lubricant has you covered.
The cushiony feel of this product makes it perfect for a variety of sexual activities, although with a pH of 3.8 to 4.2, it is best used for vaginal sex, as anal lubes should ideally have a pH range between 5.5 to 7.
One reviewer raved:
“This product has transformed my sex life! I have suffered for years with very early menopausal symptoms following treatment for cancer. [This lubricant] is fantastic and has completely transformed my life. And it’s all-natural, no nasty chemicals, which really matters too.”
In addition to being incredibly hydrating and having a slightly thicker consistency, this lubricant has an osmolality of 260-290 mOsm/kg, falling below WHO’s recommendation of <380 mOsm/kg to minimize the risk of epithelial damage.
This is an incredibly moisturizing product:
It’s also one of few water-based lubricants that’s labeled as organic. For a product to be labeled as “organic” in the United States, it has to be made up of at least 95% organic ingredients.
This personal lubricant is also certified organic by the Soil Association, which was the first organization in the world to create organic standards in the 1960s.
Not only does the Soil Association organic certification mean the majority of ingredients must be organic, but this certification also states that ingredients need to be sustainably harvested and have a minimal impact on the environment.
With organic ingredients you can feel confident about and an out-of-this-world formula, AH! YES WB – Organic Water-Based Personal Lubricant is the perfect choice for any of your sexual escapades.
Aloe Cadabra Natural Personal Moisturizer & Lubricant
OVERALL SCORE: (5 out of 5)
- Pros: Over 7,000 5-star Reviews On Amazon; Water-Based; Can Safely Be Used With Latex Condoms And Dental Dams; Aloe Vera Adds Moisture And Soothes Sensitive Skin; Certified To NSF Organic Standards; Odorless, Flavorless, Colorless
- Cons: Not As Long-Lasting As Oil-Based Lubricants; No Pump Dispenser
Bottom Line: Aloe Cadabra Natural Personal Moisturizer & Lubricant is the ideal refreshing water-based lubricant. Made with 95% food-grade, NSF Certified Organic aloe vera, this lightweight lubricant is versatile and is perfect for use with or without toys. It is also compatible with latex condoms.
[Note: Use code “AFWHI" and get 25% off plus free shipping from Aloe Cadabra — a specially negotiated discount we secured after independent review.]
- pH Score: 3.8 to 4.5 (safest for vaginal use)
- Osmolality Score: 172 mOsm/kg (Passing)
Another top pick with a perfect 5 out of 5 score, Aloe Cadabra Natural Personal Moisturizer & Lubricant is an exceptional water-based lube that feels lightweight and slippery while offering incredible hydration.
Made with 95% organic aloe vera, this product has a fun gel-like consistency that’s enjoyable to touch anywhere on your (or your partner’s) body.
The aloe vera also leaves your skin feeling nourished and soft after you’ve used it, which will keep you coming back for more.
Here’s a quick promo video:
Reviewers love that this lubricant is lightweight, easy to clean, and comfortable to use. One reviewer raved:
“I have purchased almost every personal lubricant under the sun and this is the one that works the best! Sex always came with damage control afterwards — if it wasn’t a yeast infection, it was a UTI or bacterial infection. I have used Aloe Cadabra for 6 months now and I haven’t had any discomfort or infection PLUS it works great! My husband loves it too because it’s not sticky and tastes natural, because it is! I don’t have to use an excessive amount and the clean up is easy and it doesn’t stain clothing or sheets!”
You won’t have to worry about throwing off your vaginal pH either, thanks to this product’s pH-balanced formula. With a pH between 3.8 to 4.5 and an osmolality of 172 mOsm/kg, it is ideal for vaginal use.
As a whole, Aloe Cadabra Natural Personal Moisturizer & Lubricant is the perfect water-based lube for anyone who wants to use an organic product with high-quality ingredients and a refreshing, moisturizing formula.
Sliquid Naturals H20
OVERALL SCORE: (4.8 out of 5)
- Pros: Vegan Formula; Claims To Mimic Your Body’s Own Lubrication; Works Well With Sensitive Skin; Odorless, Flavorless, And Colorless; Safe To Use With All Toys And Condoms
- Cons: Squeeze Tube Is A Con If You Prefer A Pump Dispenser
Bottom Line: Sliquid Naturals H20 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.
- pH Score: 5.4 to 5.5 (safest for anal use)
- Osmolality Score: 500-700 mOsm/kg (Passing)
Sliquid Naturals H20 is a luxurious water-based lube with a lightweight consistency that feels natural — mimicking your body’s own lubrication and making it easy to get into the mood for sex or solo play.
Here’s a quick video about Sliquid H2O:
One reviewer swears by this product, saying:
“I have had a few surgeries including a hysterectomy and have been in menopause for over 10 years. This is the ONLY product that has worked for my husband and me. He said it feels natural and for me, intimacy is pleasurable again. It is safe to use and it is amazing. Without this product I would not be able to enjoy being intimate with my husband.”
In addition to being flavorless, odorless, and colorless, it’s made with a 100% vegan formula and is great for those with sensitive skin.
Unlike some water-based lubes which aren’t compatible with polyurethane condoms, Sliquid Naturals H20 states that it’s safe to use with all toys and condoms.
A representative from the company told us that this product has a pH of roughly 5.4 to 5.5 and an osmolality in the 500 to 700 range, within the WHO’s maximum recommendation of <1200mOsm/kg.
Sliquid Naturals H20 gives you the perfect excuse to experiment in the bedroom without having to worry about questionable ingredients — the only thing you have to do is enjoy yourself.
BioNude Ultra Sensitive Personal Lubricant
OVERALL SCORE: (4.7 out of 5)
- Pros: Great For Anyone With Sensitive Skin; Sperm-Friendly — Safe For Those Trying To Conceive; Long-Lasting; pH-Balanced; No Added Fragrances, Flavors, Or Dyes
- Cons: The Lack Of Pump Dispenser Can Make Reapplication Difficult
Bottom Line: Having sensitive skin doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a water-based lubricant thanks to BioNude Ultra Sensitive Personal Lubricant. Long-lasting and safe to use when trying to conceive or when pregnant, this product will allow you to enjoy yourself without worrying about sensitivities.
- pH Score: 4.0 (safest for vaginal use)
- Osmolality Score: 240 to 400 mOsm/kg (Passing)
You can finally end your search for a smooth, long-lasting water-based lubricant that’s great for sensitive skin and safe to use when trying to conceive or while pregnant!
Additionally, Good Clean Love — the company behind the product — is big on protecting the environment and promoting sustainability:
BioNude Ultra Sensitive Personal Lubricant is a pH-balanced lube made with hydroxyethylcellulose, which is recommended when trying to conceive, as some evidence suggests this ingredient could help improve fertility.
Additionally, as the name suggests, this lubricant is formulated for those with sensitive skin. With a pH of 4.0, and an osmolality between 240 and 400 mOsm/kg, it’s a perfect match for vaginal use.
Not only does this product have a formula that could make conceiving easier, but this lube’s soft, lightweight formula will help you and your partner get into a seductive mood.
Who says trying to conceive can’t be sexy?
Sara Reardon, PT, DPT, added that “Good Clean Love’s products are made with organic ingredients,” making BioNude Ultra Sensitive Personal Lubricant a great choice for anyone who prefers natural ingredients without added and potentially harmful chemicals.
Whether you’re trying to conceive or just looking for a long-lasting lubricant that won’t bother your sensitive skin, BioNude Ultra Sensitive Personal Lubricant is an excellent water-based lube that will heighten your sense of pleasure and leave you wanting more.
#LubeLife Water-Based Lubricant
OVERALL SCORE: (4.6 out of 5)
- Pros: Multi-Use — Sperm-Friendly & Safe To Use When Trying To Conceive But Also Compatible With Latex, Polyurethane, And Polyisoprene Condoms When You’re Not; Slick, Gel-Like Formula; No Added Fragrances, Flavors, Or Dyes; pH Balanced For Vaginal Use
- Cons: Reapplication Can Be Messy Without A Pump Dispenser
Bottom Line: #LubeLife Water-Based Lubricant is a best-seller for a reason, with over 30,000 five-star reviews on Amazon attesting to this lube’s slick, smooth consistency and fantastic, sperm and condom-friendly formula.
- pH Score: 3.5 to 4.75 (safest for vaginal use)
- Osmolality Score: ~600 mOsm/kg (Passing)
Currently Amazon’s #1 bestseller in the category of sexual lubricants, #LubeLife Water-Based Lubricant is a hydrating, slippery lube that is an absolute pleasure to use.
This multi-use product is compatible with all condom types yet it’s also safe to use when trying to conceive.
Not only that, but #LubeLife Water-Based Lubricant also states that it’s ideal for vaginal, oral, or anal sex due to its thicker-than-average gel formula.
This versatile water-based lube has a gel-like formula that glides smoothly onto the skin and will leave you feeling aroused.
All of these qualities make this product a dependable lubricant that’s sure to become one of your new favorites.
Plus, their videos are hella entertaining:
Reviewers love that #LubeLife Water-Based Lubricant has a “velvety, slick” consistency, with one reviewer adding that “I love that it is paraben-free, glycerin-free, silicone-free, and oil-free, [which] ensures the delicate areas it is being used on are free from irritants.”
Like other water-based lubricants, #LubeLife Water-Based Lubricant is easy to clean and doesn’t stain fabrics. Additionally, it has no flavors, dyes, or fragrances that can irritate delicate vaginal or anal tissue.
With a pH ranging from 3.5 to 4.75, this product has an osmolality range in the 600s, well below the WHO’s maximum recommendation of <1200mOsm/kg.
Overall, #LubeLife Water-Based Lubricant is a great and affordable option that is perfect for a couple who is trying to conceive, someone interested in solo play, or anything in between.
The right water-based lube can be an excellent addition to your sex life, but the vast number of options available can make your product search feel intimidating.
However, taking your own preferences into account and knowing what ingredients to look out for can make looking for a good water-based lube exciting — rather than overwhelming.
With our top choices for water-based lubes right at your fingertips, we’re sure you’ll find a lubricant that sparks your interest — and your arousal — so you’re ready to explore your sexual fantasies anytime, anywhere!