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The Best Lubes for Every Occasion

I’ll scream it from the mountaintops as many times as I have to: Your bedroom should have a bottle of lube! Ideally more than one. Whether you’re flying solo or with a copilot(s), too much friction is a bad time for everyone. Even if it doesn’t seem like you need a lubricant, you’d be better off using a little to protect yourself from chafing and micro-tears on sensitive tissues. We’ve tried several kinds, from silicone and oil to water—these are the best lubes we’ve tested.

Be sure to check out our Best Sex Toys and Best Vibrators guides for more WIRED-tested recommendations.

Updated April 2024: We added Gun Oil Silicone Lube and Uberlube Silicone Lube.

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Silicone- vs. Water- vs. Natural Oil-Based Lube

Dame Alu lube bottle on pink fabric

Photograph: Dame

There are two main kinds of lubes to be aware of: Water-based and silicone-based.

Water-based lubes are by far the most common, most affordable options you’re going to find online or in a sex shop, and for most people, they’re the way to go. High-quality water-based lubes might as well be called aloe-based lubes because Aloe barbadensis leaf gel is the primary thickener in almost all of them. It provides a high degree of slickness without leaving behind a sticky residue. (Sometimes a mushroom extract is also used to help achieve a silky-smooth texture.) However, not all water-based lubes are made equal, and some might feel sticky. They have a bad habit of getting absorbed by the skin quickly, so they need to be reapplied more frequently than other lubes. Still, they’re body-safe and toy-safe, so they’re by far the most no-fuss option.

Silicone lubes, on the other hand, are oil-based and they provide a much higher degree of friction reduction and last longer because they’re not as readily absorbed by the skin. Because they are oil-based, you have to be careful not to stain your sheets or clothes when using them. Additionally, silicone lubes can degrade silicone toys over time, so it’s best to keep most of your toys away from silicone lube (though glass toys and silicone lube get along great).

Natural oil-based lubes are becoming more common, and they typically use plant oils like coconut oil or avocado oil to provide lubrication. The upside of these is that they play nicely with silicone toys and won’t degrade them like silicone-based lubes will, and because they’re made from natural oils they usually smell pretty good. The downside is that they’re a little more finicky and don’t provide as much lubrication as silicone-based lubes.