New Sensation: A Guide To Warming, Cooling & Tingling Lubes
While personal lubricants are great for reducing friction and making sex more comfortable, that’s not all they can do!
Warming, cooling, tingling, and icy hot lubes are the perfect way to experience exciting new sensations that can increase pleasure in unique ways.
“Some people enjoy sensitizing lubricants because they add a novel element to sex. They can provide new and different sensations, or even heighten sexual pleasure.”
What’s not to love about that, right?
Well, there is one thing, perhaps…
For every high-quality sensitizing lube out there, there are just as many products that’ll make you feel like you have fire ants attacking your mimsy — which is 1000% the opposite effect you’d get from something made from safe ingredients.
Fortunately, we’ve learned the ins-and-outs of sensitizing lubes so you’ll know what to look for when searching for a product that tickles — or tingles — your fancy.
What Are Warming, Cooling, And Tingling Lubes?
Personal lubricants that produce a warming, cooling, or tingling sensation (sometimes described as “icy hot” if menthol is added to a warming, tingling lube) can all be categorized as sensitizing (or sensation) lubes.
The word “sensitizing” can mean several things depending on who you ask, and the term must be clearly defined.
In our case, when we say “sensitizing lubes,” we’re referring to personal lubricants that are warming, cooling, or tingling — or that otherwise enhance feelings of pleasure through those sensations.
Sometimes also known as stimulating lubricants or arousal lubes, this type of product can be used to explore temperature play — the practice of incorporating elements of cold or heat to elevate erotic response.
So, what exactly will these lubricants do to your nethers?
- Warming Lube: Warming lubes provide a pleasantly warm sensation wherever the product is applied.
A good warming lubricant shouldn’t feel like a thousand suns burning in your vag, but should instead add a comfortable sensation of heat that heightens sexual stimulation.
Warming lubes might also make you more sensitive to touch overall, which can result in some amazing foreplay and sex.
- Cooling Lube: Alternatively, cooling lubes are on the opposite end of the spectrum to warming lubes and provide a unique feeling of chill wherever they are applied.
Although they turn down the heat, cooling lubricants are not the same thing as numbing or desensitizing lubes — in fact, cooling lubricants can also make you more sensitive to touch!
Just as a quality warming gel isn’t supposed to make you feel too hot in places where “the sun don’t shine,” a good cooling lube shouldn’t leave you wanting to grab a blanket for your cooch.
A high-quality cooling lubricant should feel like a touch of a mint for your party parts — refreshingly cold, but not totally frozen.
- Tingling Lubes: Tingling lubes might make you feel like you have goosebumps on your vagina — in the best way.
However, the buzzing, tingly sensation they provide is polarizing among users.
While some people absolutely love how sensitive tingling lubes make them, while others find that they distract from the pleasure of sex.
How Do Warming, Cooling, And Tingling Lubes Work?
Now that you know what warming, cooling, and tingling lubricants do, you might be wondering how they deliver these distinct feelings.
It’s not exactly magic, but rather a myriad of specific ingredients that create a variety of unique, erotic sensations.
These may include additives with a cooling effect like mint or menthol, warming ingredients like capsaicin, or a mix of compounds that cause warming or cooling and tingling sensations together, which we’ll talk about more in just a bit.
Dr. Karyn Eilber, M.D., is a urologist who specializes in female pelvic medicine and reconstructive surgery and is the creator of Glissant, a natural lube brand.
She explained how warming, cooling, and tingling lubes create arousing sensations:
“Naturally sensitizing lubricants should contain ingredients that increase genital blood flow, which is what naturally happens with arousal.”
If you crack open a pharmacology textbook (or, realistically, check online), you’ll learn that the process of increasing blood flow, which occurs when your blood vessels dilate, is called vasodilation.
When it comes to sex, vasodilation often results in increased arousal and more intense orgasms.
Some sensitizing lubricants use ingredients that promote vasodilation, though there are many more that use a combination of ingredients to give you a warming, cooling, or tingling sensation in your vag.
We’ll talk a little more about specific ingredients in a bit.
Normal vaginal pH is less than 4.5, so a lube designed for penetrative sex should have a compatible pH level, as an increase in vaginal pH can also lead to an increased risk of infection.
Osmolality, on the other hand, refers to the amount of a substance that’s dissolved into water. For this reason, osmolality is only a factor in water-based lubricants.
Although the safest range is below 380 mOsm/kg, the WHO recommends that personal lubes have an osmolality that is less than 1200 mOsm/kg.
Finally, it’s important to remember that just because you like one type of sensitizing lube, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll like others.
A tingling lubricant might get you in the mood to rendezvous but a warming lube could make you feel like someone is holding a lighter to your vag.
Overall, it’s worth it to experiment with warming, cooling, and tingling lubricants to figure out what feels erotic and arousing — or just plain weird.
What Ingredients Are Used In Warming, Cooling, And Tingling Lubes, And Are They Safe?
Understandably, most medical professionals agree that using a sensitizing lube that includes natural, non-toxic ingredients that encourage an increase in blood flow is preferable to using one filled with harsh or potentially harmful synthetic ingredients.
While not all sensitizing lubes are solely created from natural ingredients, various sensitizing lubes use a combination of natural and synthetic additives to get the intended effect.
The following ingredients are commonly found in sensitizing lubes:
Mint and menthol are common and natural ingredients (or naturally-derived, in the case of menthol) that provide a cooling, tingling sensation to the genitals when used in personal lubricants.
You may also find menthol being included in warming lubes, too, as it can offer a simultaneous warming and cooling (“icy hot”) sensation depending on the formula.
Mint and menthol can be irritating to those with sensitive skin, especially when added to a lubricant in high concentrations.
Capsaicin, an ingredient first extracted from chili peppers, is a common ingredient in warming lubes and is also sometimes added to tingling lubes.
While capsaicin is occasionally found in some pain creams, its use in personal lubes is controversial, to say the least.
If you imagine putting hot sauce or Icy Hot pain cream on someone’s dong or love glove, you can probably figure out why!
Capsaicin has been shown to cause vasodilation — which means it increases blood flow to the genital area when applied there — but it is known to be an irritant to the skin, too.
In certain concentrations, capsaicin can also cause a numbing effect — and experiencing an unexpected loss of sensation on or around your genitals is both a major turn-off and pretty startling.
Petrochemicals — meaning ingredients derived from petroleum — might sound like a good way to lock moisture in, but these ingredients frequently spotted in warming lubes have their own complications.
Glycerin is another common ingredient found in sensitizing lubricants, particularly in those that create a warming sensation.
While glycerin adds a thick quality to lubes, studies have linked this ingredient to an increased risk of yeast infections, so it’s one you should try to avoid.
Finally, you’ll often see parabens in sensitizing lubricants. While parabens are often used to preserve lubes for a longer shelf-life, they’re also suspected endocrine disruptors.
Look, you shouldn’t have to worry about screwing up your reproductive system when you use a personal lubricant, so if you see one with parabens listed on the label, give it a hard pass.
Can You Be Allergic To Lube Ingredients — Even If They’re Safe?
The answer is yes — people can have allergies to all kinds of ingredients in personal lubricants, even “safe” ones.
This is why it’s important to read the label and understand what’s being used in a product, particularly if you have sensitive skin or if you know you have an allergy to something.
For instance, some oil-based lubricants use oils derived from nuts, which can wreak havoc on a person with an allergy to them.
The same holds true for water-based lubricants that use aloe; people with an allergy to latex should probably avoid those, as aloe contains natural latex.
You know your body better than anyone — so make sure to check out the ingredient list on any new product and, as we mentioned earlier, do a patch test on an area of skin to watch for any potential reactions.
Additionally, some people should probably avoid sensitizing lubes altogether — regardless of potential allergies.
Dr. Karyn Eilber, M.D., the urologist and creator of Glissant we spoke to earlier, told me certain individuals might find sensitizing lubes to be irritating rather than arousing. She explained:
“Many women of all ages have vaginal pain and dryness with sexual activity, and some of the sensitizing lubricants have ingredients that have a warming or heating sensation that can make their pain worse — I don’t recommend these sensitizing lubricants with chemical ingredients for women who already have issues in that area.”
So, if you’re someone with sensitive skin or if you experience vaginal pain and dryness, it’s probably best to skip the sensitizing lubes.
How And When Should I Use Warming, Cooling, Or Tingling Lube?
If you want to turn up the heat (or turn it down) in the bedroom, a great sensitizing lubricant might add a brand new dimension to your sexy fun time.
Temperature play can offer a novel and fun way to experience pleasure and you might enjoy some intensely satisfying orgasms when using tingling lubes that increase your sensitivity to touch.
While some tingling lubricants can make your naughty bits feel warmer or cooler, there are also products made specifically to enhance arousal — providing an erotic pins-and-needles sensation wherever they’re applied.
How To Use A Sensitizing Personal Lubricant
The way you use a specific sensitizing lube depends on several factors.
I know…that’s not exactly a simple answer, but it’s true!
Not sure what kind of toys you like? No problem — we’ve created a helpful quiz that will tell you which vibes will bring you straight to O-town.
Whatever your preferences are, just make sure to clean off your favorite toys after using any sensitizing lubes.
During penetrative sex, your partner will also feel the effects from a warming, cooling, or tingling lubricant if a condom isn’t being used — so that’s something to be aware of, as well.
Besides, the ingredients typically used in sensitizing lubes aren’t made to be ingested. If you’re looking for an edible lube, we recommend you check out our favorites.
In general, you’ll want to use sensitizing lubes exactly as directed — which means keeping them only where they belong.
Dr. Regina R. Whitfield Kekessi, OB/GYN, advises that anyone using a sensitizing lube should be careful to avoid accidental contact with non-genital areas. She told me:
“Avoid placing fingers and hands toward or in the mucus membranes of the face, including the eyes and nose, as the product can irritate or burn these areas. Remember, products can be transferred from partner to partner through kissing.”
You’ll also want to avoid using a sensitizing lube for anal sex unless a product specifically says it’s made for that.
You should always test out lubes on your hand, arm, or somewhere that’s not super sensitive before using a new product, and this is especially important when using a sensitizing lube!
Just keep in mind that its effects are magnified when applied to mucous membranes like the labia minora and vagina.
Should I Use Sensitizing Lube When Trying To Conceive?
The short answer: No, you shouldn’t use warming, cooling, tingling, or other sensitizing lubes when you’re trying to conceive.
Lubes that haven’t been specifically made to increase your odds of getting pregnant can actually decrease your chances of conceiving.
Instead of using sensitizing lubes, the Mayo Clinic suggests that you use hydroxyethylcellulose-based lubricants.
These water-based lubes are usually pretty neutral, and more importantly, they “don’t decrease sperm motility and are the most like natural vaginal mucus.”
If you’re interested in finding a sperm-friendly lube, you can take a look at our top pick here.
What Are The Best And Safest Warming, Cooling, And Tingling Lubes?
You might be wondering, “Are there any sensitizing lubes that aren’t chock-full of sketchy ingredients?”
Fortunately, the answer is yes!
A Note On Our Ratings:
All of our recommendations are free from Cyclomethicone, parabens, petroleum jelly, petrochemicals, capsaicin, and added dyes. These ingredients can be irritating or toxic, and some ingredients have been linked to causing certain types of cancers.
The personal lubricants we’re recommending are the best of the best — none of our ratings go below 4 because we take your pleasure seriously.
OVERALL SCORE: (4.8 out of 5)
- Pros: Created With Primarily Organic Ingredients; Inclusion Of Aloe Vera And Vitamin E Adds Hydration To The Skin; Propylene Glycol Enhances Pleasure Without Being Overwhelming; Lightweight And Easy To Clean Up; Ideal For Those Who Want Stimulation Without Intense Cooling Or Warming Sensations
- Cons: The Squeeze Tube Packaging Could Make This Lube Messy To Reapply
Bottom Line: With a list of solid, primarily organic ingredients, Blossom Organics Pure Pleasure Arousal Gel gives you an invigorating, yet not overpowering tingling sensation that’s sure to get you in the mood for some amazing shagging. This is not a lubricant for internal use — it is designed for application to the clitoris only.
If you’re curious about the world of sensitizing lubes but don’t want to feel overwhelming cooling or warming sensations in and around your vag, Blossom Organics Pure Pleasure Arousal Gel* might be a good fit.
With a list of solid, primarily organic ingredients, this product gives you an invigorating — yet not overpowering — tingling sensation that’s sure to get you in the mood for some amazing shagging.
OVERALL SCORE: (4.2 out of 5)
- Pros: Vegan Formula; Long-lasting; Smooth, Thick Formula; Waterproof; Pump Dispenser Makes Application A Breeze
- Cons: Addition Of Menthol Means Those With Menthol Allergies Should Avoid This Lube; Not Everyone May Like The Intense Tingling/Cooling Feeling
Bottom Line: Wicked Sensual Care Ultra Chill Silicone-Based Lubricant is a bracing lube that will make your bits tingle in the absolute best way. This delightfully cooling lube is sure to turn up the heat in the bedroom.
Wicked Sensual Care Ultra Chill Silicone-Based Lubricant* is a bracing lube that will make your bits tingle in the absolute best way. This delightfully cooling lube is sure to turn up the heat in the bedroom.
Since this product is formulated with silicone, it’s long-lasting and waterproof, making it an awesome pick if you want to experiment in the shower or hot tub — just don’t use it with silicone sex toys.
Warming/Cooling (Icy Hot) Lube:
OVERALL SCORE: (4.5 out of 5)
- Pros: Vegan, Organic Formula; Agar Agar Adds A Nice Cushion To The Lube; Aloe Leaf Juice Adds Moisture To The Lube; The Combination Of Peppermint And Food-Grade Menthol Gives Both A Cooling And Warming Sensation; Unscented
- Cons: The Inclusion Of Aloe Leaf Juice Means Those With Latex Allergies Should Avoid This Lube; Those With Menthol Allergies Should Avoid This Lube
Bottom Line: Sliquid Organics Natural Sensation Lubricant will spice things up in the bedroom by making your favorite sexual activities over-the-top indulgent.
OVERALL SCORE: (4.4 out of 5)
- Pros: Blended To Feel Like Your Body’s Natural Lubrication; Cools On Contact But Warms With Friction; Safe For Use With Latex Condoms And Toys Made From Rubber, Plastic, And Silicone; Vegan; Hypoallergenic
- Cons: The Lack Of A Pump Means Application Can Be Messy; Those With Menthol Allergies Should Avoid This Lube
Bottom Line: Sliquid Sizzle is a water-based personal lubricant that provides dual icy-hot sensations, thanks to the addition of food-grade menthol. Going on cool and warming with friction, Sliquid Sizzle takes sensation to the next level.
Both are vegan, compatible with sex toys, use food-grade menthol, and are perfect for the person who wants a lubricant that can multi-task.
Just because so many sensitizing lubes include questionable ingredients, it doesn’t mean you have to compromise on quality!
Whenever you want to try something new in the bedroom, think about giving these products a try.
Sensitizing lubes create new and exciting sensations while enhancing the activities you already love.
With such a dizzying array of sensitizing lubes on store shelves, though, it’s important to know how they work, when to use them, and most importantly, which ones are safe.
So, the next time you’re feeling adventurous, consider grabbing warming, cooling, or tingling lubricant — exhilarating sensations await!