Can You Use Hair Conditioner As Lube, Or For Anal Sex?

No – when the moment hits and you’re ready to get down, don’t reach for hair conditioner as a lubricant, it is not safe for any type of sex.
Photograph Of Hair Conditioner Bottle On White Table Top With Bedding Out Of Focus In The Distant Background
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Updated:February 2024

No — conditioner is great for your hair, but it’s definitely not made for your most sensitive areas and should never be used as lube for any type of sex.

Here’s why:

  • Although hair conditioners are made with moisturizing agents and other ingredients designed to be gentle for your hair and scalp, these ingredients can irritate the vulva, penis, or anus. This may lead to rashes, itchiness, or burning, putting you at risk of a genital infection.
  • Hair conditioner is not made for internal use, nor is it meant to be ingested. It is completely unsafe for use during oral sex, as it can cause throat discomfort, upset stomach, diarrhea, or even vomiting.
  • Added fragrances used in hair conditioners can be another source of irritation that may lead to an infection if used as a lube for vaginal or anal sex.
  • Conditioners can disrupt vaginal and anal pH, leading to irritation,  inflammation, or infection.
  • Many conditioners contain oils that may degrade latex or polyisoprene condoms and latex diaphragms, increasing your risk of STI transmission or unwanted pregnancy.

There are just too many risks associated with using hair conditioner — or even hair masks and detangler — as lube, especially when there are much safer lube alternatives available.

In this article, we’re going to cover everything you need to know about using conditioner as a personal lubricant, including:

Editor’s Note: This article is part of our Lube Alternatives and Everything Lube hubs, in-depth and evolving resources that comprehensively explore 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.

Can You Use Conditioner As Lube?

Nope. It isn’t a good idea to use conditioner (or other conditioning treatments, hair masks, or detanglers) as lube — at all.

It may seem like an easy solution to reach for something convenient like a hair conditioner when you’re out of your favorite lubricant, but you shouldn’t.

Here’s everything you need to know about using conditioner as lube:

  • Like soaps, hair conditioners can disturb your body’s natural pH and lead to vulvitis or urethritis, even if used for external masturbation of the vulva or penis.
  • Conditioner is not created for internal use of any kind — it is meant to be used externally on the skin and should never be used for vaginal or anal penetration.
  • Hair conditioner formulas include surfactants, polymers, and other ingredients that are great for your hair but may irritate sensitive genital and anal skin, leading to rash, itchiness, irritation, or infection.
  • Conditioner is not meant to be ingested and should not be used for oral sex. It won’t kill you but could cause an upset stomach, vomiting, diarrhea, and throat irritation.
  • Conditioners typically include added fragrances that can also cause irritation that may lead to an infection.
  • Conditioners that include oils may break down condoms made from latex or polyisoprene and latex diaphragms. This puts you and your partner at risk for STI transmission or unwanted pregnancy.

There are simply too many chemicals and synthetic ingredients in most hair conditioners, masks, or detanglers to make one a desirable option for a personal lubricant.

Conditioners are similar to soaps, which use a variety of different surfactants and fragrances in their formulas that can be gentle enough to use on your hair — but not your genitals.

Surfactants can lead to skin irritation even when used as directed, but they can pose a much higher risk when applied to the vulva, penis, or anus — even during external masturbation.

Conditioners can also disturb your body’s natural pH, leading to irritation of the vulva or penis. If the formula makes its way inside the urethra, it can cause urethritis — painful inflammation or infection.

Hair conditioner is not meant to be used internally, so it isn’t safe for vaginal or anal penetration — ever.

Additionally, conditioner is NOT edible and should never be used for oral sex.

Conditioner is not poisonous, but it can irritate your throat, cause stomach upset, and cause vomiting or diarrhea if swallowed.

Finally, some conditioners, hair masks, or detanglers can contain oils that will degrade condoms made from latex, polyisoprene, and latex diaphragms.

But that point is rather moot since you should never use a hair conditioner for vaginal or anal penetration of any kind.

Your best bet is to stick with safe lube alternatives or choose a body-safe personal lubricant.

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Can You Use Conditioner As Vaginal Lube?

No, do not use conditioner as a vaginal lubricant for sex or masturbation.

Vaginal skin is delicate and the mucous membranes are very sensitive to surfactants, chemicals, fragrances, and other ingredients included in most hair conditioners.

If you use conditioner for lube during vaginal sex, you may very well end up with redness, irritation, and burning — all of which can put you at a higher risk of developing an infection.

Additionally, vulvitis (inflammation of the vulva) can occur even if you’re just using conditioner as an external lubricant during masturbation.

Many conditioners contain oils, which can deteriorate latex or polyisoprene condoms or latex diaphragms, increasing your risk of STIs and unwanted pregnancy.

Another issue with conditioner is that it will throw off your vaginal pH balance. The vagina has a pH of about 3.8 to 4.5. Most conditioners have a pH of 7.

If you disrupt the pH of your vagina, you could end up with:

  • Discomfort
  • Infection
  • Abnormal vaginal discharge
  • Bad odor
  • Itching or burning sensations

Conditioner is not meant to be used internally — in any situation — and that’s especially true for vaginal penetration.

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Can You Use Conditioner As Anal Lube?

No, you should not use any type of hair conditioner as an anal lubricant.

Although the pH of the anus is closer to that of conditioner, it is still a pretty sensitive area that’s easily irritated by the surfactants, fragrances, and other ingredients found in most hair conditioners.

Instead of a hot sexy romp, you might end up in the shower trying to flush the conditioner out because it’s burning or itching.

Nobody wants irritation, rash, itching, or burning in or around their anus — especially when there are safer anal lube alternatives available.

Additionally, if you use latex or polyisoprene condoms during anal sex, be aware that oils found in some conditioners will degrade their material, making them ineffective against STI transmission.

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What Is Conditioner Made From And Is It Safe?

As we mentioned earlier, the ingredients found in hair conditioners are safe for your hair but not your genitals — so let’s take a closer look at what those are.

The main ingredients in conditioner typically include:

  • Cationic surfactants: These stick to the hair to fight static and act as a conditioner, but when used directly on the skin, they can cause irritation.
  • Cationic Polymers: These help form a film to thicken, detangle, and smooth hair. They are very substantive, and they can be difficult to remove.
  • Emollients: Conditioners may have natural or synthetic oils as well as esters and waxes that act as emollients. These help to moisturize and protect hair, but many emollients can clog pores when used on delicate genital areas.
  • Preservatives: These help conditioners retain their shelf life and keep bacteria away over time (particularly in the warm, wet environment of a bathroom or shower stall) but these can cause skin irritation, particularly on the genitals.
  • Silicone: This is a mineral sand element that helps to detangle and protect hair. Although silicone is of course found in body-safe silicone lubes, the types of silicones used in conditioners may not always be the same safe ones used in formulated lubricants.
  • Fragrances: These can be essential oils, many of which are not made for delicate vaginal skin, or chemicals that are even worse for your skin.
  • Oils: These may be synthetic or natural. Certain oils may be potential allergens if they are nut-based, and all oils will degrade STI and pregnancy barriers made from latex or polyisoprene.

Barring any allergies or sensitivities, conditioner is perfectly safe when used as directed — as a hair conditioner.

Most of the ingredients found in conditioners are not recommended for genital or anal skin since they may lead to irritation, inflammation, or infection in those delicate areas, as we discussed earlier.

The only exceptions are certain body-safe oils you’re not sensitive to or allergic to.

Still, it’s important to remember that the formulation of conditioner is safe for your hair but not for your genitals.

As we said earlier, conditioner is not meant to be used internally — ever — and that goes double for oral sex.

Instead, try a safe lube alternative or a body-safe personal lubricant.

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What Are Better Lube Alternatives To Conditioner?

Instead of conditioner, we highly suggest using a store-bought personal lubricant that is body-safe and designed for that purpose.

There are many personal lubricant options available, including:

Here’s a cheat sheet for selecting the best lube based on how you intend to use it:

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?

There is a personal lubricant designed for every situation, so if you’re not sure which to choose, you can read through our in-depth lube guide or take our lube quiz to find your perfect match.

Our Top Lube Recommendations

After researching hundreds of personal lubricants — and personally testing dozens of them ourselves — we have found the very best lubes of each type, vetted by our team and recommended for their safety and performance.

Editor's Note: When you purchase a product via an affiliate link (*) on our site, we earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. On behalf of our entire team, thank you in advance for your support!

We’ll take a quick look at the four main lubricant categories below.

  • Water-Based Lubricants

Water-based lube is water-soluble — making it easy to clean up — and it tends to have a texture similar to your body’s natural lubrication.

Additionally, water-based lube is safe to use with any type of condom, dental dam, or diaphragm.

Although they may need to be reapplied during any marathon sex sessions, water-based lubricants can be reactivated with a bit of water as needed; however, they cannot be used in the shower or bathtub.

If you want to learn more about water-based lubes, we researched and reviewed the safest and best water-based personal lubricants to help you find the perfect one.

  • Silicone-Based Lubricants

Silicone-based lubes last much longer than their water-based counterparts and are equally safe for condoms of all types.

When deciding between water-based and silicone-based lubes, your choice will ultimately depend on how you plan to use them.

Silicone personal lubes usually have a denser consistency and satiny-smooth texture that is unlike your body’s natural lubrication.

Their thicker, smoother texture makes them a clear choice as a lube for anal sex.

Although they are waterproof for sex in the bath or shower, silicone lubes can’t be used with silicone sex toys because they can deteriorate the material.

Our review of the best silicone-based personal lubes explores all of our hand-picked recommendations of the safest products available right now.

  • Oil-Based Lubricants

An oil-based lubricant is made from natural (and sometimes organic) oils that are body-safe for vaginal and anal sex.

Certain products can include nut-based oil ingredients, so you want to steer clear of those brands if you have nut allergies.

Similar to silicone lubes in texture, oil-based personal lubricants are another great choice for anal sex as long as latex or polyisoprene condoms are not used.

Additionally, they are not compatible with dental dams, although most oil-based lubes shouldn’t be ingested or used during oral sex.

If you’re interested in learning more about them, we researched and found the best oil-based personal lubricants.

  • Natural And Organic Lubricants

Natural and organic personal lubricants may be water-based or oil-based, depending on the product, offering various options to choose from based on your needs.

Like other oil-based lubes, those who have allergies to such ingredients should avoid natural and organic products made using nut-based oils.

We found the best and safest natural and organic lubricants available right now through our independent research.

Are There Any Safe Home Lube Alternatives?

If you’re horny, in a hurry, and you need a safe lube alternative that you can find in your home right now, there are some excellent options available:

Even if the above lube alternatives are considered pretty safe for most, remember that you should not use oil-based lube alternatives with latex or polyisoprene condoms, diaphragms, or dental dams.

Always do a patch test of any new lube alternative by applying a little bit to your inner arm skin. Then watch for any allergic reaction before using it as a lubricant on your genitals.

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Bottom Line: 

When the moment hits and you’re ready to get down, please don’t reach for conditioner as a lubricant.

The potential issues it can bring to your privates later are not worth the convenience right now.

If you can, find an alternative lubricant that’s safe and won’t have you running to the doctor the next day.

Even better, pick up a safe, formulated personal lubricant made for sexual activity and use that instead.

If you’re not sure how to do that, read through our personal lube guide or take our lube quiz to narrow down your best options.

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