Lube can be a necessity, it can be an extra, it can be a way to explore your sexuality even more, or just a way to dial up the fun between the sheets. But the best lube for one situation is not the best lube for the next: there are vast differences between different brands and formulations, and between different ways of using lube. Finding the best lube for you means thinking about what you're really trying to achieve.
Some lubes help to add a little extra vaginal lubrication, some are better lubes for anal sex. You can pick up better lubes helping with menopausal dryness. Lube can also be used with sex toys – from the best dildos to the best Fleshlights – to help smooth the way.
What the lube is made from will affect how it behaves; head to our oil vs water vs silicone based lube explainer for a comparison of the main types. And bear in mind that it's not always about which lube you buy but what your body is ready for. Some people have allergies to certain ingredients, silicone lubes can affect certain toys, and oil-based lubricants can cause latex condoms to degrade. Get the mix right, though, and you shouldn't have a problem.
Of course, it's not all about the right lube. You have almost as much choice of where to buy lube. Here are some of our favourite stockists, if you prefer to browse yourself.
- Shop lubes at Lovehoney UK / Lovehoney US
- Browse all lubes at Harmony
- Shop lubes at So Divine - and get a free lube with dildo orders
- Browse lubes at Bondara
Best lube for PIV sex
In terms of freedom, this is probably the most open category of lube there is. As long as the penis or vagina in question isn't sensitive to a particular ingredient, you're free to use anything you'd like, from oil- to water-based lubes, any thickness you'd like, even frivolous spunk simulations like Creamy if you must. In fact, many people say they prefer to use anal lubes for PIV sex; they're often a little slipperier, which can help reduce the friction which might cause things to end prematurely, and they tend to come in larger tubs, getting you a lot more lube for your lucre.
But maybe it's not quite that simple. If you're using condoms, you need to avoid oil. It can cause both latex and polyisoprene condoms to degrade, and fast: a condom that's going to fall to bits halfway through the act is not an effective condom. So that's one kind of lube eliminated from this category, at least.
And the fact is you never really know where things are going to head. We're going to recommend that you opt for the most universal lube possible. Pick one which is perfect for PIV sex, and just as useful if you want to take things in a different direction. Go water-based, so that you'll be OK with condoms or toys, you're not going to irritate the tongue if that happens to come into play or any other other parts involved if you're not yet sure of any allergies, and you won't have any trouble washing your sheets afterwards. Go medium consistency, rather than something super thick or annoyingly runny.
Lovehoney Enjoy | £12.99 at Lovehoney
Vegan friendly, condom-compatible, and super-slippy with a simple formulation, this water-based lube is about as universal as lubes get. It's perfect for PIV sex, and equally great if you want to apply it to a toy or two. In the 250ml bottle version there's plenty to go around, too.
- Browse the best bed sheets on the market
Best lube for anal sex
Having the best lube for anal sex is not just a case of wanting something nice. Good anal lube makes all the difference. You don't have to stretch your imagination too much here: the anus produces no natural lubrication of its own. Without something to make things slippery, friction is inevitable. Nobody is looking to get anything torn up down there.
The best anal lube makes the whole process, er, slick. You won't be able to just slap some on and go straight in - there's still a level of preparation required, which we'll allow you the fun of working out on your own - but an anal lube which sticks around and retains its slipperiness over time reduces a lot of worry and makes things more fun.
Like any other kind of lube, though, selecting the best anal lube for you is not 100% simple. We'd steer away from oil, given that it can cause issues with condoms. Silicone lubes are probably the best option, since they tend to be the best for longevity and glide and create more of a cushion, protecting the delicate tissue of the anal canal. But they have downsides, in that they can degrade the surface of silicone sex toys, and some people are sensitive to silicone - not something you necessarily want then you're dealing with a very sensitive area. Keep a good thick water-based lube on hand as a backup.
Überlube | £18.99 on Amazon UK
That name and parfumier style isn't just marketing bravado. Überlube is one of the finest lubes on the market, a silky silicone addition which gets the formulation just right. It isn't wet, it isn't goopy or slimy, it just does away with friction and lasts for an age. Expensive, but probably worth spending a little extra.
Best lube for menopausal dryness
Things change. It's not something you can stop, but you can certainly put up a fight: the menopause absolutely does not mean an end to intimacy. It just means you'll need to be a little more creative. With a good lube, the dryness which tends to follow reduced estrogen in the vaginal tissue doesn't have to be an issue - though, like with other use cases, there are some things to consider.
If you're not too dry but still finding things a little rough, a water-based lube might be the best option; if you really need to step up the slickness, a silicone lube may be a better choice. It'll stay around longer, meaning you won't need to stop and reapply, and - much like when used for anal sex - it provides more of a barrier for your internal tissue, which can help stop things getting painful.
Certain chemicals may also be able to help you further. Backing up a good lube with a moisturising gel containing hyaluronic acid can help with longer-lasting relief from dryness; some also find that lubes containing glycerin help, though it can contribute to yeast infections so it's worth being careful if you have a sensitive balance to maintain.
Sylk Intimate | £7.99 at Amazon
Sylk's lube stands above the vast and bewildering range aimed at combatting menopausal dryness, mainly because it pulls double duty: you can use its all-natural formulation to keep things slippy, yes, but it's also a pH-balanced way to moisturise - one which, judging by a vast amount of feedback from happy users, does not have the same tendency to trigger thrush as some others.
Best lube for toys
The best lubes to use with toys are those which keep your toys - and, indeed you - in tip-top shape afterwards. And that's going to depend a lot on your toy.
Avoiding mixing silicone lubes and silicone-coated toys is essential, given that the former tends to somewhat ruin the latter, but there's no reason to avoid a silicone lube on metal or plastic toys. The extra thickness and slipperiness may be a benefit, and the fact that silicone tends to cling means you'll get a longer session out of them.
For a silicone toy, you might consider an oil-based lube, which can retain slippiness for longer than water-based lubes, though we tend to lean away from these in general given they're an absolute nightmare to clean up afterwards. And realistically, water-based lubes are some of the best lubes for toys anyway: you can get them plenty thick, and they're easy on the body.
Bear in mind that thicker water-based lubes can get a little sticky as your body absorbs the water and leaves behind whatever thickening agents were in there; we've recommended the thickest lube we can, but you may prefer applying (and potentially re-applying something thinner.
ID Xtreme H2O | £12.99 at Lovehoney
OK, the bottle's a bit brash, but we challenge you to find a thicker water-based lube that's this good at keeping your toys good and slippery. It goes a long way, too, so this 130ml bottle should last you a while.
- Try a thick lube on some of the best dildos
- And if you want a more moving experience, the best vibrators
Best lube for sensitive skin
If you already have sensitive skin, it's likely that your intimate areas are doubly sensitive; picking the best lube for sensitive skin means selecting something which doesn't come with too many potentially irritating extras, and which might even offer a little relief.
So, avoid things like warming agents. Dodge ingredients such as glycerin and spermicides. With a water-based lube, consider the PH level of the area you're using it on: the anus has a relatively neutral pH, whereas the vagina is just slightly acidic, so use a lube which matches.
Basically, just be careful. We'd advise sticking to a water-based lube like the one below, and consider ingredients like aloe to add a little soothing moisture to your skin - as long as you're not sensitive to that too...
YES Organic Water-Based Lube | £6.99 at Lovehoney
There's basically nothing in YES' ingredients list that's going to cause anyone any issues, yet the company has still managed to make this water-based lube one of the most slippery and satisfying around. There's no colour, no fragrance, and plenty of aloe to soothe your skin, inside and out.
Best lube for oral sex
Oral sex and lube unquestionably go together, given that good ol' saliva is one of the handiest lubes there is. There's generally little need to add lube when you're getting your mouth involved, then - but what if you want a lube which can pull a bit of double duty, and not necessarily taste like a suspicious chemical jelly while it's at it?
Unsurprisingly, there are a large number of flavoured lubes out there which can make giving head a little more delicious. These vary in flavour, going everywhere from fruity to sweet to minty, and tend to be mainly water-based given that consuming silicone isn't exactly super-healthy.
We'd recommend steering clear if you're sensitive, particularly from the more adventurous peppermint varieties, though a minty flavour may offer you a little extra tingle. And not the disastrous toothpaste-on-the-glans tingle, either. Don't ask how we know.
Jo Candy Shop Cotton Candy | £9.99 at Harmony
Worry not. There's no sugar involved here (that would not exactly do wonders for vaginal flora) but Jo's flavoured lube is nonetheless the perfect choice to sweeten up any slippery encounter. And there are plenty of other flavours available, too: why not try something from Jo's classy Gelato or juicy, er, Juicy ranges?