Can You Use Shampoo As Lube, Or For Anal Sex?

Using shampoo as lube is NOT recommended — for any type of sex. This includes baby shampoo or similar cleansers meant to be used externally.
Photograph Of Shampoo Bottle On White Table Top With Bedding In The Out Of Focus Background
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Updated:February 2024

No — shampoo is not safe to use as lube for any type of sex because it contains ingredients that are far too harsh for a penis, vagina, or anus.

Here’s why:

  • Shampoo contains cleansing agents and surfactants (detergents) that, while great for stripping dirt and oil away during hair washing, can easily irritate genital and anal skin.
  • If shampoo makes its way inside the urethra, it can lead to urethritis (inflammation of the urethra).
  • Shampoo can alter the delicate pH balance in the vagina or anus, leading to uncomfortable irritation that may lead to infection.
  • Additionally, shampoo often has added fragrances or dyes that can cause irritation, burning, pain, or inflammation in and around the genital area.
  • Shampoo is not meant to be ingested and can cause throat discomfort or irritation, upset stomach, diarrhea, or vomiting if used as a lubricant for oral sex.

​​Like soap, body wash, or any kind of liquid soap (even a pH-balanced vaginal wash), shampoo shouldn’t be used as lube because its chemical composition is too harsh for genital or anal use.

This also applies to baby shampoo — even if it says “no tears” on the bottle, baby shampoo is still too harsh to use as a personal lubricant.

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.

Things To Know
In this article, we’re going to cover everything you need to know about using shampoo or baby shampoo as a personal lubricant, including:

Can You Use Shampoo As Lube?

No, you should not use shampoo as lube because it contains detergents and other ingredients that are too harsh for your genitals.

The same holds true for baby shampoos — even those marketed as gentle or “tear-free.”

They might have mild formulas when compared to regular shampoo, but they still contain detergents and other ingredients that can irritate vaginal or anal skin if used as lube.

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

  • Shampoo contains surfactants (surface-active agents that act as detergents to strip away dirt and oil) that can cause significant irritation or dermatitis and dryness to the vagina or anus.
  • Shampoo as vaginal lube, even for external masturbation alone, can lead to vulvitis, painful irritation, and inflammation of the vulva.
  • If oils are used in the formulation, shampoo can degrade condoms, diaphragms, or dental dams made from latex or polyisoprene, which can result in unintended pregnancy or STI transmission between partners.
  • Shampoo can make its way inside the urethra when used as a lube or for external masturbation of the penis, causing urethritis, irritation, and inflammation of the urethra.
  • Shampoo is NOT meant to be ingested. For this reason, it can lead to throat discomfort or irritation, upset stomach, diarrhea, or even vomiting if it’s used as a lubricant during oral sex.
  • The pH of shampoo can vary widely — from about 3.5 to 9.0 depending on the product and its formulation. A shampoo with a high pH can disrupt the natural pH in your vagina or anus, leading to irritation or infection.
  • Additionally, most shampoos contain added fragrances and sometimes colorful dyes, both of which can lead to irritation of the vagina or anus if used as a lubricant.

If you use a shampoo or baby shampoo as vaginal or anal lube, you’re putting yourself at risk for major irritation later on.

More importantly, the detergents that strip dirt and oil from your hair are far too harsh for delicate genital or anal skin.

As we mentioned earlier, some shampoos may be formulated with oils.

Although those can be healthy for your hair — some, like vitamin E, are even safe as lubricants on their own — they can degrade pregnancy and STI barriers made from latex or polyisoprene.

Added fragrances and dyes found in shampoos (even baby shampoos) can be irritating to the vagina and anus, as well.

The pH of shampoo can vary, but those with a high pH will disrupt the natural pH of your genitals or anus, which can cause irritation or infection.

Even if used as a lubricant for external masturbation, shampoo can make its way inside the urethra, causing painful irritation and inflammation.

Shampoo might start slippery enough, but it dries up quickly without water — which ultimately rinses it away.

Finally, shampoo is not meant to be used internally, nor ingested, making it entirely unsafe as a lubricant for any type of sex.

The best course of action is to reach for safe lubes from brands you trust or body-safe lube alternatives.

Can You Use Shampoo As A Vaginal Lube?

No — shampoo is not safe for vaginal penetration or external masturbation of the vulva.

As we mentioned earlier, the ingredients commonly found in shampoo can cause irritation and inflammation of the vulva, urethra, or vagina.

Shampoo is excellent for removing dirt and grease from hair, although the ingredients that achieve this feat are extremely drying on other areas of the skin.

This also explains why we use a separate wash to clean the body. Even so, soaps and body washes aren’t safe lube alternatives, either.

Shampoo as lube — even gentle or “tear-free” baby shampoo — can easily irritate the vulva (vulvitis) or urethra (urethritis).

The pH of some shampoos might technically be balanced to the vagina (3.8 to 4.5) but most are not — and they can disrupt your body’s natural pH, leading to irritation or subsequent infection.

Can You Use Shampoo As Anal Lube?

No. Similar to why you shouldn’t use shampoo as a vaginal lube, shampoo is far too harsh to use as anal lube, as well.

Like the vagina, the anus exists happily at a certain pH level (between 7 and 8).

Shampoo, however, can range in pH from 3.5 to 9 depending on the formula, which can throw your natural anal pH off-kilter, leading to irritation or infection.

Additionally, some shampoos are formulated with oils that can degrade condoms made from latex or polyisoprene, putting you or your partner at risk for STI transmission.

If anal sex is on your mind, you’re far better off choosing an anal lube formulated for the activity, or a body-safe anal lube alternative.

What Is Shampoo Made From And Is It Safe?

Shampoo is made with surface-active agents, known as surfactants, that are meant to cleanse the hair and scalp, removing dirt, dandruff, and excess oil.

To do this, surfactants in shampoo mix with water to cleanse and lift grime away from your hair and they’re perfectly safe when used as directed, provided you don’t have allergies or sensitivities to any ingredients.

Sodium lauryl sulfate is a common surfactant used in shampoo. While great for cleaning hair, is not safe for vaginal or anal use because it can cause irritation or contact dermatitis.

Do keep in mind that shampoos made without sulfates are equally unsafe for vaginal or anal use, and should not be used as a lubricant because they still contain some type of detergent.

Many shampoos also contain conditioning ingredients such as glycerin which is ​​linked to yeast infections if used vaginally.

Parabens are another ingredient commonly used in shampoo products.

While parabens are also used in some personal lubricants, there is major debate over whether or not it is safe for internal use as they may be endocrine disruptors.

We feel they are best avoided.

Furthermore, added fragrances in shampoo might make your hair smell like perfume, but they can irritate the genitals or anus.

Although marketed as gentle and often “tear-free,” baby shampoo is not safe to use as an internal (or external) lube because it’s made with cleansing agents.

Yes, baby shampoo may be mild and safe for a baby’s skin, but when used as a lubricant, it maintains contact with genital or anal skin for far longer than it would during normal use while washing.

That extended contact can easily irritate the vagina, vulva, penis, or anus.

For this reason, it is worth it to ​​invest in a formulated lube that is made with a limited number of high-quality ingredients.

What Are Better Lube Alternatives To Shampoo?

Instead of shampoo, we highly suggest using a store-bought personal lubricant that is body-safe.

Better personal lubricant options include:

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?

If you’re curious about finding your next favorite lube, take a peek at our in-depth lube guide and lube quiz.

Let’s take a quick look at the four main lube categories below.

  • Water-Based Lubricants

As its name suggests, water-based lube is water-soluble, meaning it washes away in water, making it a dream to clean up.

It is not waterproof, however, meaning you can’t use this type of lube in the bath or shower.

Water-based lube is safe to use with all types of condoms, diaphragms, dental dams, and sex toys, making it a great option to have on hand for any type of sex.

Check out our article on the safest and best water-based personal lubricants if you’re interested in finding one for yourself.

  • Silicone-Based Lubricants

Silicone-based lubes are longer lasting and much thicker compared to water-based lubricants and are similarly safe to use with all types of pregnancy and STI barriers, aside from silicone diaphragms.

Silicone lube is not safe to use with silicone sex toys because it can damage the material.

Silicone lubricants feel silkier to the touch compared to water-based lubes, providing more cushion, especially during anal sex.

Silicone lube is a great waterproof option for extended use in the shower or tub and requires less in the way of reapplication during use.

Our review of the best silicone-based personal lubes highlights a variety of our hand-picked recommendations of the safest products on the market right now.

  • Oil-Based Lubricants

Another waterproof lube option, oil-based lubricant is made from natural, body-safe oils for vaginal and anal sex.

Do keep in mind that some oil-based lubricant products contain nut oils. Those with allergies to nuts should always take precautions and double-check the ingredient list before use.

Oil-based lubes feel thick and luxurious in texture, making them ideal for anal sex as long as they’re not being used with latex or polyisoprene condoms, as the oil degrades those materials.

Additionally, most oil-based lubes are too thick and present a choking hazard if used during oral sex.

We reviewed the best oil-based personal lubricants if you’re interested in exploring them.

  • Natural And Organic Lubricants

Depending on the product, natural and organic personal lubricants can be water-based or oil-based.

As with other oil-based lubricants, some natural and organic lubricants are made with nut-based oils and should be avoided by those with nut allergies or sensitivities.

We found the best and safest natural and organic lubricants that are readily available and on the market today.

Are There Any Safe Home Lube Alternatives?

In a pinch, there are a few safe lube alternatives that can be found in your home:

Do remember that oil-based lube alternatives are not safe to use with condoms, diaphragms, or dental dams made from latex or polyisoprene.

It’s also a good idea to do a patch test with any potential lube alternative you’re considering.

Apply a bit of product to your inner wrist or elbow and watch for any reactions such as rash, burning, itching, or hives before using it as a personal lube.

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!

Bottom Line:

Using shampoo as lube is not a good idea — for any type of sex.

Your genitals and anus are sensitive areas and shampoo contains ingredients that are far too harsh for them.

Luckily, we have access to expertly formulated lubricants and there are plenty of body-safe lube alternatives to choose from, as well.

If you’re not sure what type of personal lubricant will suit your needs, take our lube quiz to find out!

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