A Complete Guide To Safe Lube Alternatives And Ones To Avoid

From coconut or cooking oils, to spit, lotion or soap, are the items you’re using as a lube substitute safe and effective for oral, vaginal, or anal sex?
Photograph Of Five Glass Bottles Containing Various Natural Oils Made From Olives, Seeds, And Nuts Against Whitewashed Wood Background

“What can I use instead of lube?” is an age-old question…

Sometimes you don’t have any lube on hand when you most need it, which can turn a hot sexy moment into one of dry disappointment.

You can go without sex (not a fun option) or you can grab something out of your pantry or medicine cabinet as an alternative to traditional lube.

But is what you’re about to use safe? Will it do the job and keep things wet and slippery? And if it isn’t or won’t, what should you use instead?

Not all lube alternatives are good ones, and some can be downright dangerous, as Women’s Health Interactive medical review board member Dr. Susan Milstein pointed out.

So let’s jump right in and help you figure out if what you’re about to do the deed with is a good substitute for store-bought lube.

→ Safe Lube Alternatives:

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

→ Things You Should NOT Use As Lube:

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


Article Summary:

This article is a guide or starting point on lube alternatives – from those that are safe to use to those you should avoid completely.

In this article, we’ll explore:

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.

What Is Personal Lube And Why Do People Use It?

Personal lubricant is a thick liquid applied to your genitals, hands, sex toys, and/or the anus to help reduce friction and lubricate the body during penetrative sex and masturbation.

Many people use lube during vaginal sex when the vagina isn’t wet enough to keep sex comfortable and pleasurable and some people just use lube because they like the way it feels.

Why? Because dry sex is bad sex.

It’s also ideal to use lube when your new partner’s penis is larger than you’re used to or you’re trying out a new dildo.

Vaginal penetration isn’t the only time you need lubrication, though. It’s an absolute must during anal sex, too.

The anus doesn’t get wet the way the vagina can. Your butt needs help. The right lube helps reduce pain during anal sex making it a much better experience for everyone involved.

There are four types of personal lubricant that you can purchase:

  • Water-based lube is a great universal lubricant as it’s compatible with all condom types and sex toy materials.
  • Silicone-based lube is thicker than water-based and lasts longer but it can’t be used with all sex toys.
  • Hybrid lubes are generally a combination of water-based and silicone lubes that offer the best of both types, but can also be made from oil and water too.
  • Oil-based lube is a popular option for anal sex because it’s thicker and lasts longer. It cannot be used with latex or polyisoprene condoms, nor sex toys made from latex, rubber, or jelly rubber.

Natural and organic lubes are also available, and these can be water-based or oil-based depending on the product.

Natural and organic lubricants may use aloe or oils derived from nut-based sources, so make sure to read the label if you have an allergy or sensitivity to nuts or latex, which is found in the aloe plant.

While we highly recommend formulated personal lube, that’s not always available. Let’s take a look at lube alternatives that you can use and what situations they’re best for.

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What Lube Alternatives Can You Use That Are Safe?

Photograph Of Argan Oil Bottle On Nightstand Table With Bedding In Distant Background

People have been using creams, lotions, oils, and other liquids as lube for millennia to make sex more comfortable because friction during sex isn’t fun.

Many of them are safe enough to use as lube in certain circumstances — including a great number of oils.

That said, there are a few important things to understand before using any oil as a personal lubricant, including store-bought oil-based products.

Oils can clog your skin’s pores, which can trap bacteria and cause irritation or infection, especially if you’re someone with sensitive skin.

Additionally, some oils are derived from natural sources that you may be allergic to — such as nuts or sunflowers — which can lead to irritation at best, and a severe allergic reaction at worst.

Oils can and will degrade condoms made from latex or polyisoprene, which negates their effectiveness as a contraceptive barrier and their protection against sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

Polyurethane, nitrile, and lambskin condoms are compatible with oils, however, the latter doesn’t offer any protection against STDs or STIs between partners.

Additionally, oils can degrade sex toys made from latex, rubber, or jelly rubber. If you plan to use these types of sex toys, you’ll want to select a lube alternative that isn’t an oil.

Below is a list of alternatives that may be safe for some forms of sex but not necessarily for all sexual encounters.

Click any link below to learn more about that particular type of lube alternative and why it is generally considered safe for sex, according to Dr. Susan Milstein, who sits on our medical review board.

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


Almond Oil As Lube

  • Can be used during vaginal, anal, or oral sex.
  • Almond oil can be considered safe sometimes — as long as you (or your partner) don’t have an allergy or sensitivity to nuts.
  • High in Vitamin E — another safe lube ingredient on its own — almond oil has a slightly sweet aroma (particularly found in sweet almond oil).
  • Almond oil has a thin texture and may be less suitable for anal sex for this reason.
  • Take all the precautions you normally would with any oil-based lubricant.

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Aloe Vera As Lube

[Safe In Most Cases]

  • Safest for vaginal and oral sex.
  • Aloe vera is an ideal lube substitute for vaginal sex because its pH balance is similar to that of the vagina, but you should make sure it’s fresh from the plant or 100% pure if store-bought.
  • Aloe can safely be used on the vulva, in the vagina, and on the anus, provided you don’t have an allergy or sensitivity to latex.
  • Aloe vera isn’t great for those actively trying to get pregnant as it’s not sperm-friendly during ovulation.
  • Although aloe vera gel can be used topically on the anus, it is not recommended for anal sex because it may not feel as good as a thicker oil or provide enough slip during anal penetration. Additionally, the pH of aloe is closer to that of the vagina, rather than the anus, so it may not be a great choice for anal sex.
  • Aloe vera is a safe option for oral sex as long as it is 100% pure or straight from the plant.

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Argan Oil As Lube

[Safe In Most Cases]

  • Safest for vaginal or oral sex, can be used for anal sex although its texture is lightweight.
  • Argan oil is often described as fragrant and sensual. It’s a lighter oil that is not as thick as some other lube alternatives, like canola oil or vegetable oil.
  • Pure argan oil may be a better option than versions mixed with other ingredients if you have known skin sensitivities or allergies.
  • Because it’s lighter and less thick, it’s a better option for penis-in-vagina (PIV) sex. Stick with thicker oils and lubes for anal.
  • Take all the precautions you normally would with any oil-based lubricant.

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Avocado Oil As Lube

[Safe In Most Cases]

  • Can be used for vaginal, anal, and oral sex.
  • Like coconut and olive oils, avocado oil is likely safe for most people to use as a lube alternative.
  • Avocado oil is tasteless, odorless, and food-safe, like other cooking oils, so you can still have oral sex if you use it as a lube.
  • Take all the precautions you normally would with any oil-based lubricant.

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Canola Oil As Lube

  • Safest for vaginal and anal sex.
  • Canola oil as lube is similar to vegetable oil in that it’s highly refined so it carries the same potential risks of clogging pores or leading to infections when used as a lube during vaginal or anal sex, especially if you have sensitive skin.
  • Canola oil must meet strict requirements to be called “canola oil” so you don’t have to worry if you’re using the real thing or not.
  • Take all the precautions you normally would with any oil-based lubricant.

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Castor Oil As Lube

  • Safe for vaginal and anal sex only.
  • People of a certain age (ahem, those in their 50s and older) may shudder at the thought of castor oil as lube but that’s likely because they have memories of ingesting it as a medicine for constipation or as a punishment.
  • Castor oil is used as an ingredient in many products these days from candies to skincare to jet engine lubrication. It’s even used in alternative medicine for skin conditions or as a way to induce labor (although there is no proof that it does either).
  • Castor oil can safely be used for both vaginal sex and anal sex but avoid it during oral sex due to its laxative effect.
  • It’s easily absorbed into the skin leaving you feeling soft and supple.
  • Take all the precautions you normally would with any oil-based lubricant.

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CBD Oil As Lube

[Safe In Most Cases]

  • Can be used during vaginal, anal, or oral sex.
  • CBD oil is often used in CBD-infused lubricants, so using it by itself makes sense.
  • In general, CBD oil is food and body-safe as long as you don’t have an allergy to hemp or any of its derivatives. Plenty of folks take a dose of CBD oil sublingually (under the tongue) every day to treat a variety of health ailments.
  • That being said, CBD oil isn’t well regulated, so only use it as lube if you feel confident you purchased from a reliable retailer.
  • Some people claim that CBD enhances sex, although research is limited and there is little proof beyond anecdotes.
  • It’s important to note the difference between CBD oil and CBD tinctures before using one as lube. Although some CBD oils are marketed as “tinctures,” a true CBD tincture is alcohol-based and should not be used as a lubricant — ever.
  • Feel free to use it for vaginal or anal sex but make sure to take all the precautions you’d normally take with any oil-based lubricant.

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Cocoa Butter As Lube

  • Can be used during vaginal, anal, or oral sex.
  • All-natural cocoa butter is sometimes used as an ingredient in oil-based lubricants, so on its own, it can be safe to use.
  • If you pick up a big bottle in the store, though, check to see what other ingredients might be included. Avoid using it if it lists anything you’re allergic to or that has caused skin irritation in the past.
  • As with all oils and types of “butter” used as a lube, take all the precautions you normally would with any oil-based lubricant.

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Coconut Oil As Lube

[Safe In Most Cases]

  • Safest for anal or oral sex.
  • This is a favorite lube alternative for many people because it’s safe for most bodies.
  • It has antifungal and antibacterial properties, which can be beneficial for some people, but its pH ranges from 5.5 to 7.5, which is above the normal vaginal range of 4.5 — meaning it could disrupt your pH during vaginal sex.
  • Unrefined virgin or extra virgin coconut oil is best as it’s less refined.
  • Coconut oil is a common ingredient in natural oil-based lubes and it is often used in the production of MCT oil, which is a concentrated form of medium-chain triglycerides used as supplements or skin treatments.
  • Oils are thick and viscous meaning you don’t need to re-apply as often.
  • Coconut oil may stain your sheets during use which is why some people tend to avoid it as a lube.
  • Take all the precautions you normally would with any oil-based lubricant.

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Cooking Oil As Lube

  • Safest for vaginal or anal sex.
  • If you’re choosing a cooking oil other than any of those we specifically discuss in this article, first consider how processed it is.
  • The more refined the oil, the worse it will likely be for your skin, which can lead to clogged pores, irritation, and infection.
  • In general, though, cooking oil can be used for masturbation, vaginal sex, or anal sex.
  • Be prepared for stained or messy sheets when you’re done.
  • Take all the precautions you normally would with any oil-based lubricant.

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Cornstarch As Lube

[Safe, But Not Recommended]

  • Can be used during vaginal, anal, or oral sex.
  • Cornstarch by itself won’t make a good lube but mix it with enough water and you may enjoy it.
  • Cornstarch is completely body-safe and silky smooth, helping to reduce friction in the way you want from a lubricant.
  • You can use it in vaginal sex as well as anal sex, though you may need frequent reapplication during anal as it will likely dry up.
  • Depending on your palate, this may not be the best-tasting lube alternative during oral sex.
  • Additionally, cornstarch can be tricky to use as a lube because of issues mixing it with the correct amount of water. Too much water means a thin, runny mixture; too little water results in a thick paste.

 

→ See also:

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Crisco As Lube

  • Safest for vaginal or anal sex.
  • Crisco and other shortening products have long been used as lube, especially for anal sex between gay men.
  • Like other cooking oils, it may clog pores in the vagina which could exacerbate other issues and lead to an infection.
  • Shortening and Crisco will definitely stain your clothing and sheets so put down something to protect your bedding or only use old sheets you don’t care about.
  • Take all the precautions you normally would with any oil-based lubricant.

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Essential Oils As Lube

  • Safest for vaginal or anal sex. Should never be used during oral sex — some essential oils may be ingestible but many are poisonous.
  • If you’re going to use essential oils as a lube alternative, it’s best to use carrier oils like coconut oil to reduce sensitivities in the vagina or anus.
  • Make sure you use 100% essential oil and not something mixed with other ingredients.
  • People often report being sensitive to essential oils, so test it on your arm or hand first before sticking it in your body.
  • Take all the precautions you normally would with any oil-based lubricant.

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Grapeseed Oil As Lube

  • Safest for oral sex and vaginal sex (with caveats)
  • Grapeseed oil can safely be used as a lubricant for vaginal sex unless you’re prone to yeast infections or have sensitive skin.
  • It’s odorless and tasteless so oral sex is still on the table when you use it.
  • The problem with grapeseed oil as lube is that it has to be reapplied often and isn’t very thick. That makes it not so great for anal sex and potentially messy, as thinner oils tend to get everywhere.
  • Take all the precautions you normally would with any oil-based lubricant.

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Jojoba Oil As Lube

  • Safest for vaginal and anal sex.
  • Jojoba oil is a great option as a lube because it’s so good for the skin. It’s known to unclog pores, allowing you to avoid other oils that might clog your skin and lead to infections later.
  • Unrefined jojoba oil has an odor and taste that’s nutty — which may or may not appeal to you during sex. Refined jojoba is odorless and tasteless.
  • That being said, ingesting too much jojoba oil can lead to digestive issues (diarrhea) so if you use it during anal or vaginal sex, skip oral sex once it’s on the skin.
  • Take all the precautions you normally would with any oil-based lubricant.

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Massage Oil As Lube

  • Safest for vaginal or anal sex.
  • Massage oil is body-safe, as it’s meant to be rubbed all over the skin, and is often made from coconut oil, argan oil, vitamin E oil, and other skin-friendly oils.
  • Sensual massage often leads to fingering and other penetration, so it’s no surprise that massage oil is sometimes used as a lube.
  • The most important factor in its safe use are the ingredients it’s made with. Always read the label and avoid it if it contains anything you’re allergic to.
  • Fragrances may be used in massage oil and many people are sensitive to them, so it’s important to check in with your partner, too, before using it as a lube.
  • Take all the precautions you normally would with any oil-based lubricant.

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Olive Oil As Lube

  • Can be used during vaginal, anal, and oral sex.
  • Ideally, you should use extra virgin olive oil as that’s the least processed and less likely to clog pores that lead to infections later.
  • That being said, olive oil can be a good lube alternative for vaginal or anal sex if you don’t have sensitive skin.
  • As with all oils, it can be messy and stain bedding and clothing.
  • Take all the precautions you normally would with any oil-based lubricant.

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Shea Butter As Lube

[Safe In Most Cases]

  • Safest for vaginal and anal sex. Can be safe for oral sex if it is 100% raw and unrefined.
  • Shea butter is a common ingredient in oil-based lubes for good reason. It’s thick and viscous while also being great for the skin.
  • Shea butter is something that may leave your vagina or penis feeling smoother and softer after sex.
  • Because it’s an oil product (butter is in the name, after all), take all the precautions you normally would with any oil-based lubricant.

→ See Also:

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Sunflower Oil As Lube

  • Can be used during vaginal, anal, and oral sex (with caveats).
  • Like other cooking oils, sunflower oil can be used as a vaginal or anal lube in a pinch, though there are better alternatives.
  • Sunflower oil is an ingredient often used in vegetable oil, so it’s safe to ingest during oral sex provided you don’t have a sunflower seed allergy or sensitivity.
  • As it tends to be highly processed, it’s not great for the vagina or anus due to the increased risk of clogged pores, skin irritation, or infection.
  • Take all the precautions you normally would with any oil-based lubricant.

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Tea Tree Oil As Lube

  • Safest for vaginal or anal sex. Should never be used during oral sex.
  • Tea tree oil is sometimes used as an ingredient in oil-based lube so it makes sense to grab it as a lube substitute.
  • Tea tree oil is known to have antifungal and antiseptic properties which may be good for the butt or the vagina.
  • It may be safe to use for vaginal or anal sex unless you have known sensitivities to tea tree oil — which are not uncommon. Do a patch test on your arm or leg before putting it in your body if you’re not sure.
  • Tea tree oil is known for its tingling properties, so use this as lube with caution if you don’t want that sensation on your genitals.
  • Tea tree oil is poisonous and should not be ingested. It should never be used as lube during oral sex.
  • Take all the precautions you normally would with any oil-based lubricant.

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Vitamin E Oil As Lube

[Safe In Most Cases]

  • Safest for vaginal and oral sex. Can be used anally if the texture isn’t too thin for your comfort.
  • Many women have vitamin E oil recommended to treat vaginal dryness, so it makes sense to take it one step further and use it for penetrative sex.
  • It can also be used for anal sex, though thicker options may be preferable, as this is a lighter, thinner oil.
  • Take all the precautions you normally would with any oil-based lubricant.

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Things You Shouldn’t Use As Lube

Photograph Of Icy Hot Balm On Nightstand Table With Bedding In Distant Background

There’s an expression that’s important to remember here…

Just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should.

This is especially true in sex. Yes, you need something to lubricate yourself and your partner but not just anything will do, as Dr. Susan Milstein, who sits on our medical review board, told us.

There is a long list of lube alternatives to avoid because of their potential to cause skin irritation, vaginal or anal infections, and even the transmission of STDs or STIs between partners.

As we mentioned earlier, there are a few important things to understand before using any type of oil as lube and although you shouldn’t use any of the below alternatives, it’s worth addressing one more time.

Oils can clog pores, trapping bacteria inside and potentially leading to vaginal or anal infections, particularly in those with sensitive skin. A lubricant formulated for sensitive skin may be the best option.

Additionally, oils will degrade latex and polyisoprene condoms, making them ineffective as a contraceptive barrier and negating their protection against sexually transmitted diseases STDs) and sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

Condoms made from polyurethane or lambskin are compatible with oils, however, the latter doesn’t offer any protection against STDs or STIs.

Additionally, oils should not be used with sex toys made from latex, rubber, or jelly rubber because they’ll degrade the material. If you plan to use these types of sex toys at all, make sure to choose a safe lube alternative that isn’t an oil.

Click any link to jump to the one you’re most curious about, or scroll to read through all of the alternative lubes you should skip — and why.

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


Aquaphor As Lube

  • Another ointment formulated for the skin, Aquaphor may seem like a good lube alternative but think again, as it’s petroleum-based.
  • For this reason, there’s a fairly good chance it will irritate your vagina or anus.
  • Even if it doesn’t, it will need to be re-applied often as it’s absorbed into the skin making it another impractical choice.
  • Additionally, like all petroleum products and oils, take all the precautions you normally would with any oil-based lubricant if you use this — but we highly recommend that you do not.

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Baby Oil As Lube

[Unsafe]

  • Often made from mineral oil, baby oil is safe for baby’s skin but not as a personal lubricant during any type of sexual activity.
  • Using baby oil for lube during oral sex can be dangerous to you and your partner since baby oil is a hydrocarbon — if inhaled, it can stay in your lungs, potentially causing pneumonia and possibly even leading to death.
  • Even though baby oil is often used as a skin moisturizer, it can irritate the skin of your vulva, vagina, and anus, potentially leading to infections of those areas.
  • If you use baby oil as a personal lubricant — which you should not — take all the precautions you normally would with any oil-based lubricant.

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Baby Shampoo As Lube

  • Baby shampoo is gently formulated, making it “better” for the skin as a lube but not by much — especially if it’s a baby shampoo with added fragrance.
  • Chemical fragrance and vaginas don’t often mix well, with skin irritation or yeast infections as a result.
  • Like other soaps and shampoos, it’s also impractical as an anal or vaginal lube because of the stickiness as it dries and the need to reapply it.
  • Baby shampoo may be okay for penis-havers during external masturbation, as long as their skin isn’t overly sensitive.

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Blood As Lube

  • Menstrual blood isn’t anything to be freaked out over, and many people have explored having sex while on their period. It can make the vagina slippery, having an effect that’s similar to lube.
  • But it’s not a practical alternative to lubricant outside of period sex.
  • You can’t easily apply blood to the anus and it does not provide enough slippage for comfortable anal penetration, so it’s out as anal lube.
  • Once blood is exposed to the air, it begins to dry and becomes sticky.
  • Plus, it’s extremely messy and the sight of blood makes many people squeamish. Both could be instant mood killers.

→ See Also:

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Body Butter As Lube

  • If your body butter is made with ingredients listed above in our “safe lube alternative” list, you may be okay to use this as a lube as long as there aren’t chemical additives, fragrances, or dyes.
  • But if you prefer body butters that have a lot of fragrance and are made in a variety of bright colors, avoid this one as a lube.
  • The dye and fragrance will likely irritate the skin, potentially leading to infections. In general, most lotions, moisturizers, and body butters are not good choices as a lubricant for this reason.
  • If you use an oil-based body butter with limited and safe ingredients as a lube, take all the precautions you normally would with any oil-based lubricant.

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Body Wash As Lube

  • Body washes and other soaps can be gentle and mild or harsh and abrasive, depending on how they’re formulated. Many include fragrances and parabens and both aren’t great for the vagina at all.
  • For anal sex, body wash may be thick enough for comfort, but as it dries, it’ll become sticky and require reapplication, which will only create a mess. And if you get busy in the shower to avoid the mess, it’ll wash away, rendering it useless.
  • A body wash might be a decent option for masturbating if you have a penis, but less so if you have a vagina. It’s likely to upset the pH balance of the vagina which can lead to yeast infections and irritation later.

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Breastmilk As Lube

  • Breastmilk is as natural as it gets and can be safely applied to the skin.
  • It can be used as a lubricant for vaginal sex unless you have a yeast infection or suspect you may have one. Breastmilk contains natural sugars that can increase your risk of developing a yeast infection if you are prone to them.
  • Because breastmilk is often sticky, you’ll want to make sure you clean up very well after sex. If you don’t like sticky textures on your skin, you may want to avoid it completely.
  • Breastmilk is unlikely to be a great option for anal sex, however, as it will dry up and isn’t going to stay viscous enough for comfortable penetration.
  • During oral sex, breastmilk has a slightly sweet taste that can be pleasant but it isn’t slippery or long-lasting.

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Butter As Lube

[Unsafe]

  • Butter is great on bread, in cakes, and to cook with but it’s terrible as a lube because it can spoil. Bacteria from butter can lead to unwanted outcomes like odor or infection if you miss even a little bit during the post-sex clean-up process.
  • As an oil-based product, it’ll probably feel great during penetration. But clean-up isn’t always easy, especially if butter is deep inside your body. This is one ingredient you don’t want to be around when it goes bad.
  • Do not use butter as a personal lubricant.

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Cetaphil As Lube

  • Cetaphil is a type of lotion that’s formulated to be gentle on the skin and moisturizing. Neither are bad things for a lube but Cetaphil is not practical for anything other than external masturbation.
  • Lotions like Cetaphil can be absorbed into the skin or dry out so quickly that you’ll need to reapply often.
  • It’s not unsafe, but it’s not the best option, either — and it should not be used for penetrative sex of the vagina or anus.
  • As with many other products, a sensitive vulva may not react well with Cetaphil during external masturbation so we recommend avoiding this one.

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Chapstick As Lube

  • At room temperature, Chapstick is slightly hard and only applies in a thin layer, which is fine when you apply it to your lips. As a lube, you’ll need to apply a lot of it to make it work.
  • Some chapsticks may use petroleum, mineral oil, or other ingredients like added dyes, flavors, or fragrances that make them unsafe as a personal lubricant.
  • While an all-natural product is likely not too terrible for your body when used as lube as long as you use the unscented, tasteless version, it’s a bit impractical. Once you add enough to your vagina, anus, penis, or dildo, you’ll likely have an oily mess on your hands.

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Conditioner As Lube

  • File this one with soap and body wash as lube. It’s not necessarily the worst thing you can use, but it’s definitely not the best.
  • Depending on the ingredients in your conditioner, which can include a variety of silicones not meant to be used as lube, parabens, and fragrances, it could be very bad for the vagina and lead to irritation or infections.
  • At best, conditioner is an impractical lube that may only work for men while they masturbate in the shower.

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Cum As Lube

  • Cum can be safe as a lubricant for both vaginal and anal sex — but only if there are no concerns regarding STIs or unintended pregnancy.
  • Although it’s compatible with all condom types, it isn’t safe to use cum as lube if you’re using condoms (only) for pregnancy prevention because seminal fluid can contain millions of sperm cells. This may lead to pregnancy, as lubricant is applied to the outside of a condom — coming into direct contact with an unprotected partner.
  • The other problem with cum is that it’s a bodily fluid with a limited supply that may not provide adequate lubrication during penetration — especially anal sex.
  • Cum is a safe lube for sex toys if STIs are not a concern.
  • The best rule of thumb is: If it isn’t safe to cum inside, it’s not safe to use cum as lube.

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Hair Gel As Lube

[Unsafe]

  • Hair gel’s job is to stiffen your hair so it doesn’t move too much, which can’t feel good on skin as sensitive as the vagina or anus.
  • Ingredients in hair gel include alcohols and fragrances, which could also cause severe irritation.
  • At the same time, those same ingredients could lead to infections and other pH balance problems within the vagina.
  • Avoid using hair gel as lube at all costs.

→ See Also:

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Hand Sanitizer As Lube

[Unsafe]

  • Hand sanitizer is a bad idea as a lube. Most hand sanitizers are made with high alcohol content. This can be extremely irritating to the sensitive skin of the vagina and anus.
  • It’s also formulated to dry out very quickly because of the alcohol. Not only will you need to reapply often, but if it irritates the skin, you’ll only make it worse with each application.
  • Avoid using hand sanitizer as lube at all costs.

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Hand Soap As Lube

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  • Many hand soaps are antibacterial, which sounds like a good thing for your vag or butt. However, those same ingredients can irritate the delicate tissue of both parts of your body.
  • Like other soap products, it’s impractical as a lube because of how quickly it dries out and how sticky it becomes, along with the risk for skin irritation and infection.
  • It may be safe for penises during external masturbation, but only if your skin isn’t sensitive and the hand soap has a mild formula.

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Honey As Lube

  • Honey is highly impractical as a lube because of its stickiness and it does not remain slippery enough to reduce friction during sex.
  • It’s also terrible for the vagina, in particular, thanks to its high sugar content which can lead to yeast infections.
  • If you want a yeast infection, put honey in your vag. Otherwise, leave it in the kitchen where it belongs.

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Icy Hot As Lube

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  • If you’re looking for extra sensation with your lube, it’s best to purchase cooling or tingling lubes formulated to use on your genitals.
  • If you’ve ever used Icy Hot on your knee or your shoulder, you know how intense the tingling and warming can be. Try to imagine that on your genitals. If you just shuddered, you know why this is a bad idea.
  • To put it plainly, Icy Hot will likely severely irritate the vagina and anus when used as a lube.
  • Even worse, you probably won’t be able to get it off of your skin fast enough.

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Lotion As Lube

  • The lube vs. lotion debate has raged for decades. A lot of people, especially guys, tend to reach for lotion when they masturbate. And as an external-use only product, that’s not the worst option. It’s definitely better than spit (more on that below).
  • But for penetrative sex, put down the lotion and pick something else as your go-to lube, even if it’s a gentle formula like Aveeno, Cetaphil, Lubriderm, or CeraVe.
  • Most lotions contain parabens and fragrances which are great for your hands but not so much for the sensitive tissue of the vagina or anus.
  • If your lotion is all-natural (made with ingredients that are on the list above) and contains no harsh chemicals, it may be okay in a pinch, but it’s definitely not something we recommend.

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Lubriderm As Lube

  • Because Lubriderm is a gentle lotion made to be mild and safe for the skin, it may seem like a good lube alternative. For masturbating a penis, it absolutely can be unless you have very sensitive skin.
  • But it’s not going to get the job done for vaginal or anal sex, primarily because it dries up too quickly as it’s absorbed into the skin. You might be mid-stroke when the friction comes back which is no fun for anyone.
  • Additionally, it’s a lotion and as such, has ingredients that can be irritating to the vagina or anus during penetrative sex, and may be irritating to some vulvas during external masturbation.

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Mayonnaise As Lube

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  • Yes, mayo is an oil-based product so you’d be forgiven for thinking it might work as a lube just like canola oil.
  • But mayo is more than the oil that goes into it. It’s also got eggs, lemon juice, and several other ingredients — any one of which may be irritating to the skin.
  • Plus, it’s a food product that can go rancid. If you don’t clean it all out of your butt or vagina, at best, you’ll smell rank, and at worst, it could lead to an infection.

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Mineral Oil As Lube

  • Mineral oil and other petroleum jellies are a no on the list of lube alternatives.
  • The potential for vaginal infections is greater with baby oil, petroleum jellies, Vaseline, and other products that also include mineral oil in their ingredient list.
  • Again, there are so many other oil-based lubes as well as safe natural oils to choose from, that this can be an easy one to skip.
  • If you do use mineral oil as a lubricant — and we highly recommend that you do not — take all the precautions you normally would with any oil-based lubricant.

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Moisturizer As Lube

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  • Although there are similarities between lotion and moisturizer, the latter is designed to allow the skin to deeply absorb vitamins, peptides, antioxidants, and a host of other beneficial things — making it an unsafe choice as lube.
  • Like lotions, moisturizers may be safe for the skin but that doesn’t mean they’re a great option for penetrative sex.
  • The ingredients found in most moisturizers may irritate the vagina or anus.
  • Also, it’s likely to be absorbed into the skin fairly quickly, meaning reapplication will be necessary.
  • For penetrative sex, it’s not worth the risk. Although, if your moisturizer is gentle and mild, it’s probably fine for external masturbation if you have a penis and your skin isn’t sensitive.

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Neosporin As Lube

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  • Neosporin is safe for the skin, or it wouldn’t be a topical antibacterial ointment. But it’s also not great for the vagina, either, since its first inactive ingredient is petroleum.
  • Using it during vaginal sex can lead to infections because it may interfere with the good bacteria that already live in the vagina.
  • As an anal lube, it’s completely impractical, even if it’s not known to be unsafe. Petroleum will degrade condoms made from latex or polyisoprene in record time, potentially leading to the transmission of STDs and STIs.
  • As Neosporin becomes absorbed into the skin, more will need to be reapplied. That’s an expensive alternative to lube. It would be cheaper (and safer) to simply buy an oil-based lube instead.

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Precum As Lube

  • Precum is pre-ejaculate that oozes out of the penis once it gets hard and turned on.
  • “Precum can have both sperm and STIs, so ‘safety’ is relative,” Dr. Susan Milstein, who sits on our medical review board, said. “While it can be used as a lubricant for vaginal [sex], there might be a risk of pregnancy if the person isn’t using some form of birth control (other than condoms). For both vaginal and anal, there’s the potential risk for STIs.”
  • Precum can be safe as a lubricant for both vaginal and anal sex as long as both partners have disclosed their STI statuses to allow for any particular safety precautions against STI transmission.
  • The other problem with precum is that there’s usually not enough of it to keep the vagina or anus lubricated during penetration.
  • Precum is a safe lube for all condoms and sex toys.

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Shampoo As Lube

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  • Similar to lotions, soaps, and conditioners, shampoo is not automatically bad as a lubricant, if you have a penis, but it’s not great for anything else.
  • Many shampoos have fragrances and parabens that aren’t good for the vagina and can lead to irritation or infection.
  • As with other soaps, shampoo is impractical as a lube for anal sex once it dries up or water is applied, and it can have ingredients that can cause rectal irritation or infection.

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Shaving Cream As Lube

  • Many shaving creams foam as you work them into the skin which could make your vagina or anus look like it’s gone rabid. That’s never a good look during sex.
  • On a serious note, shaving creams tend to be made with a variety of chemicals and fragrances that can irritate the skin, especially in delicate areas like the vagina and anus where the skin is thinner and more sensitive.
  • Additionally, shaving creams, gels, soaps, or lotions are not meant to be ingested, making them an unsafe choice for oral sex.
  • It is not a good idea to use shaving cream as lube for any type of sex.

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Soap As Lube

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  • Soap has a similar issue as body wash, depending on how it’s formulated. Soaps made with ingredients in the list above (such as cocoa butter or shea butter) without added fragrances and parabens might be okay as lube, but there’s a high chance the soap in your shower is filled with ingredients that can irritate the anus or vagina.
  • More importantly, to make soap work, you’ll need to add water. As you add enough water, however, it’ll begin to wash away.
  • When soap dries, it becomes slightly sticky but not slippery at all. All of this reduces its effectiveness as a lube. It’s better to skip it completely.

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Spit As Lube

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  • Yes, porn makes spit as lube look hot (if you’re into that sort of thing) but it’s impractical as a lube alternative.
  • You can’t produce enough spit to really lubricate the vagina, anus, or sex toy and keep it wet for very long because it dries up very quickly. This can lead to microtears, which can increase the risk of infection.
  • The pH of spit is also in the 6 to 7 range, which is higher than you want for a vaginal lube, which should be in the 3.8 to 4.5 range to avoid infection.
  • To top it off, we have a lot of bacteria in our mouths and spit carries the risk of STI transmission.

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Sunscreen As Lube

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  • The active ingredients in most sunscreens are too harsh for genital use and could easily cause irritation on the delicate skin of a vagina, penis, or anus.
  • Even without causing irritation, it’s made to be absorbed into the skin, meaning reapplication will be required. Eventually, it will turn into a sticky (but not sexy) mess.
  • Avoid using sunscreen as lube at all costs.

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Toothpaste As Lube

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  • You know that minty fresh feeling in your mouth after you brush your teeth? Try to imagine that on your genitals or up your butt during sex. Unless you’re a hardcore masochist, that doesn’t sound appealing at all.
  • Toothpaste will likely cause irritation of the skin and become a gloopy mess that’s hard to clean up.
  • Additionally, the range of harsh ingredients and the abrasive nature of toothpaste makes this a highly unsafe lube choice.
  • Do not under any circumstances use toothpaste as lube.

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Vaseline As Lube

  • Made from petroleum and related to mineral oil, Vaseline can lead to vaginal infections the same way that baby oil and other petroleum jellies can.
  • Petroleum jelly products — including Vaseline — have been found to contribute to yeast infections.
  • Petroleum jelly can also cause coughing or aspiration since it’s such a thick substance and isn’t meant to be consumed.
  • It also degrades latex and polyisoprene condoms quickly, rendering them useless.
  • If you use Vaseline as lube — and we highly recommend that you do not — take all the precautions you normally would with any oil-based lubricant.

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Vegetable Glycerin As Lube

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  • Vegetable-based glycerin is a common ingredient in lubricants but it can be one of the worst for anyone with a vagina because it can lead to yeast infections, in particular, those caused by Candida albicans.
  • It’s extremely viscous so it might seem like a good anal lube, but just as glycerin can lead to yeast infections in the vagina, the anus is not immune to them, either.
  • We’re putting it in the “don’t use this as a lube” category.

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Vegetable Oil As Lube

  • You may be okay using vegetable oil as a lube but because it’s highly processed, it’s likely to clog pores on your skin, leading to irritation or infection.
  • That’s not great news for an area as sensitive as the vagina which can experience a variety of problems including infections like bacterial vaginosis or yeast.
  • As a thicker oil, it may feel great during anal. Just watch out for the mess that it will likely make on your bed.
  • Take all the precautions you normally would with any oil-based lubricant.

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Water As Lube

  • The problem with water as a lubricant is two-fold: it dries up too quickly and it’s not thick enough to reduce friction. In fact, water washes away natural lubricant from the body which is why sex in water only looks good in porn.
  • It’s not unsafe for the body, but it doesn’t make sex slippery or more comfortable — which is the entire point of lube.

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Yogurt As Lube

  • Treat using yogurt as a water-based lubricant in that it will likely dry out and need to be re-applied often. This makes it a not-so-great option for anal sex.
  • Only use unflavored, unsweetened, plain yogurt because the sugars from added sweeteners or fruit can lead to yeast infections in the vagina.
  • Yogurt doesn’t have a great smell so you may want to avoid using it for that reason.
  • It’s okay to use with sex toys but you’ll want to thoroughly clean your toys when you’re done, as yogurt is dairy-based and can go rancid.
  • Yogurt may be safe to use with latex condoms but there’s no real evidence one way or the other so it may be best to avoid it.

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In Conclusion

With so many lube alternatives, you have more choices than you probably realize just sitting in your kitchen or bathroom.

For most people, however, it’s still best to use body-safe lubricants formulated specifically for your genitals, though.

If you prefer something less processed and without questionable ingredients, natural lubes are always a good option.

And if you’re sure exactly what you’re looking for or where to start, you can read through our in-depth lube guide or take our helpful lube quiz that will give you an answer in less than a minute’s time.