Weird Things People Use As Lube — But Shouldn’t

Just because something is safe for your hair, face, body, or lips – or comes from inside your body – doesn’t mean it’s good to use as a personal lubricant.
Photograph Of Hand Holding Tube Of Lip Balm
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Updated:July 2023

Just because you can use something as a lube doesn’t mean it’s a good idea.

Here’s why:

  • A product that is “slippery” but formulated for another use — such as body or skin care, hair styling, or even food preparation — likely contains a variety of ingredients that are not necessarily safe for genital contact.
  • Bodily fluids (like blood or breastmilk) may satisfy very specific kinks but generally don’t supply adequate lubrication (or in enough supply). Additionally, they can also transmit bacteria or viruses between partners and in the case of breastmilk, may promote yeast infections, as well.

Even in the biggest of sex emergencies — like a kinky sex orgy you’ve planned for months, only to discover there’s no lube nearby — we would not recommend using most of the unsafe lube alternatives we’ll be discussing below.

The sex won’t be good.

The clean-up may be gross.

But even worse — you might end up with an irritation or infection on some of your most sensitive body parts.


Strange Things People Use As Lube Alternatives

No matter how desperate you are for a personal lubricant substitute, close the cupboard or refrigerator and walk away from it.

Although there are some lube alternatives that are safe to reach for in many sexual situations, most of them are not worth the hassle and potential future problems.

This is especially true of some of the more random — or even kinky — things you might be thinking about experimenting with.

Weird lube alternatives that should be avoided include:

Blood As Lube

Blood is a bodily fluid, one that can carry a variety of STIs or blood-borne diseases that may pass between unprotected partners if it’s used as a lubricant.

Even assuming both you and your partners are free from disease, it is still not a safe lubricant option.

While menstrual blood might supply enough vaginal lubrication during “period sex,” blood simply isn’t a practical lubricant in most situations.

Those with a blood kink (hematolagnia) might find blood to be an exciting lube alternative to explore, but as a lube, it dries down very quickly.

Additionally, it becomes sticky once it’s been exposed to air so frequent reapplication would be a must — assuming there is a supply of it on hand to achieve this.

Additionally, blood isn’t slippery enough to provide adequate lubrication during anal sex.

Finally, blood is also extremely messy and the sight of it alone freaks many people out — which will ruin the mood unless that’s what you’re going for.

Breastmilk As Lube

While you can’t get more natural than breastmilk, it’s highly impractical as a lube alternative — especially during vaginal sex.

Breastmilk contains naturally-occurring sugars that can feed Candida albicans — the fungi responsible for yeast infections.

When introduced to a vagina, these sugars can cause an overgrowth of Candida that leads to a yeast infection, particularly if you’re already prone to them.

Additionally, breastmilk is wet but it isn’t slippery — it dries quickly and becomes sticky, which will not reduce friction during vaginal or anal penetration (and in some cases, may even increase friction).

Breastmilk may be safe as a lubricant during oral sex on a penis or the external vulva only, as it has a subtly sweet taste that some enjoy, but it is nowhere near as long-lasting as formulated flavored lube.

Additionally, there is the slight possibility of spreading HIV through breastmilk, though the research has focused on breastfeeding and not on using it as a lube for oral sex

Chapstick As Lube

Butts might pucker and vaginas may have “lips” but neither are made for Chapstick.

Chapstick might feel smooth and slippery on your lips, but its job is to create a barrier to lock in moisture.

This makes it a poor choice as a lube because the vagina and the anus are areas where you don’t want to lock in anything — trapping bacteria beneath the skin is how infections occur.

Many Chapsticks also contain ingredients that create a cooling effect on your lips, such as mint or menthol, in concentrations that are safe for that specific application.

While some sensitizing lubricants include mint or menthol to create warming or cooling sensations, the ingredient concentration is based on genital use.

Additionally, many Chapsticks contain ingredients like petroleum or mineral oil (which will degrade latex and polyisoprene condoms), along with flavors, fragrances, or dyes that can be irritating to delicate genital skin.

And last but not least, the application of Chapstick as lube is extremely impractical — the balm itself is hard and applies in a layer far too thin to be used as a lubricant.

Egg Whites As Lube

Egg whites are safe to ingest, as long as you’re not allergic to eggs, but that doesn’t make them a good lubricant.

If you’ve ever used them as part of hair treatment or skin mask, you’ll know that egg whites dry quickly and create a temporary tightness on the surface of the skin.

That stiffness is the last thing you want on your vagina or anus, especially during penetration.

Egg whites have been studied as a substitute for cervical mucus during fertility research focusing on sperm motility — which may be where the idea for using them as a lube originated.

Eggs have long been known to carry salmonella, however, and while pasteurized eggs are safer in that regard, they still carry risk — especially when used as vaginal lube.

Essential Oils As Lube

Although some essential oils may be safe for vaginal or anal sex, many are poisonous and can be dangerous if ingested during oral sex.

Additionally, essential oils can be irritating to the skin when applied directly, so if they’re used as a lube alternative at all, they’re best mixed with a carrier oil (such as coconut oil) to lower the risk of skin reaction.

It’s important to make sure that any essential oil being used as a lubricant is 100% pure and not mixed with other ingredients which may cause irritation.

It’s also a good idea to do a patch test of the oil on your arm to check for signs of skin sensitivity before using any essential oil as a lube, but better yet — choose a properly formulated and body-safe lube, instead.

Hair Gel As Lube

Few — if any – ingredients found in hair gel are safe for genital or anal use, including various alcohols and added fragrances.

Additionally, hair gel as a lube won’t reduce friction for very long as it’s designed to dry quickly.

The ingredients in hair gel can cause painful irritation to the vagina or anus, especially if you have to reapply multiple times.

If you want to style your pubic hair, we won’t judge you, but don’t use hair gel as a lubricant during sex.

Hand Sanitizer As Lube

The top and most effective ingredient in most hand sanitizers is alcohol — meaning it dries very quickly.

This quality alone makes hand sanitizer completely impractical as a lube.

Alcohol is known to cause burning sensations on the skin, especially if you have tears or wounds on its surface.

If you’ve ever applied hand sanitizer without realizing you had a small paper cut, you’ll be very familiar with the sensation — and you can imagine how it might feel when applied to the delicate skin of your genitals.

Too much friction during sex can lead to microtears, which can increase the chances of STI transmission.

Using hand sanitizer as lubrication could cause a tear simply by being a poor lube choice, with the painful burning sensation or infection that follows adding insult to (literal) injury.

Honey As Lube

As another “all natural” ingredient, honey might seem like a safe lube alternative — but think again.

First, it’s only going to create a sticky mess as it makes contact with warm bodies and gets churned like butter in the vagina or anus.

Because of the sugar content, however, honey could feed Candida albicans (fungi) that live inside the vagina — leading to yeast infections.

Finally, clean-up will be awful and it may be impossible to get all of the honey out of your body, which can also lead to bacterial infections and funky smells later.

Icy Hot As Lube

If you’re looking for the tingling or warming sensation that some lubes offer, it makes sense that you might consider Icy Hot as a lube.

Never use Icy Hot as a personal lubricant.

Because it’s formulated to cool and warm the skin and muscles of your body, deeply, it will be extremely painful on the delicate skin of your vagina or anus.

Icy Hot is also made to be worked into the skin, not to sit on top of it to create a slippery surface, so you’d have to reapply it multiple times.

Finally, if you try it anyway and discover that the sensation is too much to handle, you will struggle with getting it out of your vagina or anus as fast as possible.

Lip Balm As Lube

Just like Chapstick, lip balm doesn’t make a good lube because its application and use are impractical.

To be effective, you need to use a lot of it and it may not be easy to reapply in the middle of sex.

At the same time, it’s a moisturizer intended for your lips so it will work into the skin — eventually requiring awkward reapplication.

Similarly to Chapstick, lip balm creates a barrier on the skin to lock moisture in, which can lead to irritation or infection when used as a lube for vaginal or anal sex.

Mayonnaise As Lube

As an oil-based product, you might be tempted to treat mayonnaise as any other lube alternative, especially with latex-free condoms or during anal sex.

Mayo is so much more than oil, however.

It also has eggs, lemon, and possible spices or seasonings, depending on the brand — all of which may not be good for the vagina or anus.

Clean-up can be a big problem, especially if you’re not thorough enough.

Rancid mayo not only smells awful but it could lead to infections later on.

Precum As Lube

Precum as a lube makes sense.

It’s leaking from a willing penis, and it’s slippery like lube.

Unfortunately, it’s impractical as a personal lubricant because it can be difficult to produce enough of it to provide adequate or long-lasting lubrication.

Like semen, precum dries fairly quickly and can become a bit sticky or tacky, which means you’ll quickly have to deal with friction during penetration — without being able to reapply more.

Sunscreen As Lube

Just because something is safe for your skin externally doesn’t mean it’s safe for internal use, and sunscreen is one of those products you should never reach for as a lube alternative.

Sunscreen as a lube could be severely irritating to the sensitive skin of your vagina or anus because of the ingredients used to make it an effective sunblock like zinc oxide.

Also, sunscreen is designed to be absorbed into the skin, making it an ineffective lube because it would need to be reapplied often, potentially increasing the risk of irritation each time.

Tea Tree Oil As Lube

Tea tree oil has antifungal and antiseptic properties, which might be good for the vagina or anus, but it is well known for its tingling properties — which may be too intense for such delicate areas.

Additionally, tea tree oil is poisonous and should NEVER be ingested or used during oral sex.

Although some people may use tea tree oil as a lube without incidence, and safely, it’s not necessarily a great choice for everyone.

Tea tree oil sensitivities aren’t uncommon so if you plan to use it as a lube, do a patch test on your arm or inner elbow to monitor for a reaction first.

Toothpaste As Lube

Most toothpaste is minty fresh and leaves a bit of a tingle on your tongue, but imagine that strong sensation in a vagina, on a penis, or inside an anus.

If you shuddered at the thought, you already know why toothpaste is a bad idea as a lube.

If you want that tingling sensation, there are safer ways to enjoy it.

Common ingredients in toothpaste include abrasives and desensitizers — both of which are not good for your genitals.

Abrasives can cause microtears or irritation in the vagina or anus, while desensitizers could prevent you from noticing there’s a problem in the first place.

As with many other strange lube alternatives, toothpaste is impractical because it won’t eliminate friction during penetration — at all.

Ultrasound Gel As Lube

Ultrasound gel as a lube might sound like it makes sense.

It’s a lubricant that assists in ultrasound technology — both internally and externally.

Made primarily from water and propylene glycol, it is safe for vaginal and anal use, but it is entirely unsafe for ingestion and should never be used as a lubricant for oral sex.

While it can be considered safe, ultrasound gel tends to become tacky and sticky as it dries, meaning you’ll likely need to reapply.

Vicks VapoRub As Lube

Vicks VapoRub, also known as just Vicks, does the job it was designed to do very well.

When applied to the skin, the menthol and eucalyptus it contains can help clear up sinuses and congestion in record time.

If you had a parent who slathered you in it as a child, think back to the smell and the way it felt on your skin.

Now imagine that on your genitals.

Genital and anal irritation is highly likely if you use VapoRub as a lube.

The ingredients, while great for relieving congestion, are not good for internal use.

Some of the oils may be irritating and petrolatum (petroleum jelly) isn’t recommended for vaginal sex because of the increased risk of yeast infections and bacterial vaginosis.

If you really want the tingling sensations the menthol might provide, choose a personal lubricant designed specifically for that purpose instead.

What Are Better Lube Alternatives?

Instead of these weird (and unsafe) lube alternatives, we highly recommend using a body-safe store-bought personal lubricant instead.

Better personal lubricant options include:

Here’s a cheat sheet for choosing 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 now sure how to find your new 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 types below.

  • Water-Based Lubricants

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

It is not waterproof, however, so you can’t use this type of lube for bath or shower sex.

Water-based lube is safe to use with all types of condoms, diaphragms, dental dams, and sex toys.

It’s a great option to always keep 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 last longer and are much thicker compared to water-based lubricants.

They are also safe to use with all types of pregnancy and STI barriers.

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

Additionally, silicone lube is a great waterproof option for extended use in the shower or tub.

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.

Keep in mind that some oil-based lubricant products are made from nut-based oils.

Those with nut allergies 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 using nut oils and should be avoided by anyone with nut allergies or sensitivities.

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

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.

Are There Any Safe Home Lube Alternatives?

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

Keep in mind 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 on your arm 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.

In Conclusion

Just because something is safe for your hair, face, body, or lips doesn’t mean it’s good to use as a personal lubricant.

In fact, some products that are great for external use are dangerous for your vagina or anus.

Instead, check out other safer lube alternatives you may already have at home.

The very best option, however, is to buy a personal lubricant designed for your body. If you’re not sure where to start, check out our Everything Lube article or take our lube quiz.

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.

All Things Lube