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LUBE 101: A Beginner's Guide to Lubricants

a hand holding Unbound Jelly water based lubricant

Many of us have been taught to view lube as the province of women d’un certain âge. While it can indeed help ease general discomfort associated with vaginal dryness (which can affect anyone with a vagina, regardless of age), lube is also a fantastic tool for increasing the sensations of penetrative and non-penetrative sex, and masturbation (with a toy or without). Take a look at our handy guide to learn a little about the different kinds of lube out there, and figure out what might be best for you! 



There are three main families of lube: oil-based, water-based, and silicone-based. Let us break it down for ya.

OIL-BASED LUBE: Nah. Just nah.

We’ll be blunt: we don’t love oil-based lube. While it has a nice texture that is thicker than water-based lubricants, its applications are far more limited and it requires more clean up than others.

Oil-based lube is not safe to use with most condoms. It can degrade latex and increase the risk of tears. It's best used for massage and masturbating if you have a penis, and its hydrophobic qualities mean that it can also be used for shower play. When used vaginally or in the anus, however, oil-based lube can cause serious infections (its more viscous texture can trap bacteria).

WATER-BASED LUBE: Great for every day!

Water-based lube (like our very own Jelly) is by far the most versatile–it is compatible will all types of toys, condoms, and diaphragms. Plus, it's great for sensitive skin and its composition makes it a breeze to clean up. 

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However, water-based lube tends to dry faster, so you might have to reapply it more frequently than you would with other types of lube. When looking for a water-based lube, check to make sure it's petrochemical-free, glycerin-free and paraben-free. 

SILICONE-BASED LUBE: Great for the right occasion.

Silicone lube is the most viscous, slick, and long-lasting of the three main varieties. It's particularly good for anal sex since it's very slippery and doesn't require frequent reapplication. 

Unlike synthetic oils, silicone lubricants are typically hypoallergenic and far less likely to cause irritation or infections with penetrative sex. While silicone lube is compatible with latex condoms, it should not be paired with silicone toys.

It is also harder to remove from upholstery than water-based lubricants. However, it works great in the shower!

HYBRIDS (Best of both worlds!)

Recently, some hybrid lubes have emerged that are largely water-based, but contain a small amount of silicone to increase viscosity and longevity without compromising silicone toys. 


All of the above varieties of lube can be found with a host of additional features related to taste and sensation. Here are a few things to keep in mind for each:


Arousal gel

Arousal gels (or enhanced lubes) are lubricants containing properties that stimulate blood flow to the areas on which they're applied. This is essentially what happens inside your body when you're turned on: blood flow will increase in your body's "erogenous zones," like your clit or nipples.



Our Jolt Gel increases blood flow to the applied areas, creating warm, tingly sensations that last for around 20 minutes (shop here). This can also to increase size and sensitivity of the G-spot, which can make it easier to find and more sensitive when you do hit it.


Flavored lube

Flavored lubricant tends to be targeted for use during oral sex. However, it should be approached with caution when used in conjunction with vaginal sex because it can cause yeast infections. To avoid this, look for something that's sugar or glycerin-free.


Most lubes are chemically stable, but make sure to store them out of direct heat.

In addition to enhancing sensation, lube can also make condoms feel more pleasurable and help to reduce the risk of a condom tearing due to heat and friction (again, just make sure you never pair a latex condom with an oil-based lube!).

Always start out with a dime-sized amount, and continue to apply as needed (aka, whatever feels GOOD). 

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