28 Jun

A guide to lube

What’s the best lube or lubrication to use for intimate massage and sex?

This is a question that comes up a lot in my couples coaching sessions and couples workshops. Sensual intimate massage is lots more fun if you use some oil or lubrication, so here’s my ultimate guide to lube!

Why would you use lube?

You use oil or lube during intimate massage, or any penetration of the vagina or anus, to reduce friction and prevent irritation or small tears in the delicate skin and membranes of those areas. Irritation and tears can cause pain in the moment but also afterwards, and can potentially lead to uncomfortable infections and bacterial or pH imbalances.  The vagina does naturally produce it’s own lubrication but for many different reasons (e.g. hormone levels, lack of foreplay, where you’re at in your menstrual cycle, illness, medications, previous trauma, some autoimmune diseases) ) it might not be enough. Using additional lube or oil is a great way to support your body (and your partner’s body) in having a smooth and enjoyable experience of penetration. It also means you can keep going for longer!

The anus, on the other hand, does not produce it’s own lubrication. So if you’re exploring anal massage, anal penetration, pegging or anal sex then lube is an absolute essential ingredient! Never be stingy with the lube if you’re putting something in your arse or your partner’s arse.

Your masturbation experience can also be blissfully enhanced by adding lubrication. Reducing friction and over stimulation of the sensitive genital nerve endings will help you to regulate your arousal and control ejaculation guys, and will help your vagina to relax and engorge girls.

Premature ejaculation

Is it normal to use lube?

Yes, it is totally normal to use lube. In a 2013 study, lubricant use was associated with higher ratings of sexual pleasure and satisfaction in both solo masturbation and partnered sexual activities. More than 9 out of 10 women in the study agreed or strongly agreed that lube made sex feel “more comfortable,” “more pleasurable,” and simply “better”(ref: Jozkowski KN, Herbenick D, Schick V, Reece M, Sanders SA, Fortenberry JD. Women’s perceptions about lubricant use and vaginal wetness during sexual activities. The journal of sexual medicine. 2013 Feb 1;10(2):484–92.)

What kind of lubes are available?

Intimate lubricants fall into four general categories:

  • Water based
  • Silicone based
  • Oil based
  • Blended options

Water based lubes

Water based lubes are generally good to use for the vagina, with sex toys and with or without condoms. However, it’s not my first choice for massage based play as it’s a bit too readily absorbed into the skin. It’s also not the best for anal massage or anal penetration as the anus doesn’t produce it’s own lubrication. My recommendations for water based lube are:

Silicone based lubes

Silicone based lubes are great for vaginal massage and penetration, for anal massage and penetration, and are safe to use with condoms. They often have a slightly thicker and silkier texture than water based which I personally prefer. It lasts longer than water based as it’s not absorbed into the skin so easily, so it’s a great option for sensual massage. Sometimes there will be a reaction if you use silicone lube with a silicone sex toy. This generally happens if the toy is not made of medical-grade silicone. To be on the safe side, always put a condom on your silicone sex toys. The downside to silicone based lube is that it can stain your sheets – be warned. My recommendations for silicone based lube are:

Using lube during sex

Oil based lubes

Oil based lubes are not compatible with latex condoms – they will cause the condom to perish and break. They fall into two categories:

NATURAL (i.e. coconut oil, olive oil) – amazing for genital massage and full body massage, can be used externally and internally.

SYNTHETIC (i.e. body lotions and creams) – ok for external massage and masturbation but really not good for internal use as they can cause irritation and infections. Generally I don’t recommend this as an option.

Oil based products are great for intimate massage as long as they’re un-perfumed (more about that later). You can go for a fancy, packaged option but I also recommend just buying a really good quality, organic, cold pressed coconut oil. It will generally be a much more cost effective option! I’m a fan of…

I tend not to use things like olive oil, sunflower oil etc as these are ‘short chain’ oils and can have a tendency to become rancid over time. Alternatives to coconut are almond or avocado oil. Bear in mind that oils, even lovely organic ones, can be irritating to the delicate pH balance of the vagina – every body is different so find the option that works for you. They’ll also stain your sheets so prepare your massage space with a towel, and don’t slosh it around too much 🙂

Hybrid lubes

Blended lube options are generally a blend of silicone and water based ingredients. They’re longer lasting than pure water based but not as thick and gloopy as some silicone based. Always do a little ‘spot test’ on any toys you’re planning on using to make sure there’s no reaction between the silicone. I recommend these mainly for vaginal penetration, not so much for intimate massage. My favourite is…

How should I use lube?

There’s nothing super technical about using lube but there are some things I’ve learned from years of experience…

  • ‘I’d rather be looking at it than looking for it…’: whether you’re masturbating or having partnered sex, even if you feel like you’re wet enough, just add a little lube. It will enhance your natural juices and make everything smoother and longer lasting.
  • More lube please’ is a phrase we should all be comfortable saying and hearing! Practice it in front of the mirror if you need to 😉
  • Apply it to your vagina/anus AND to the item that is doing the penetrating (the dildo, your fingers, the penis, the anal beads, the butt plug etc).
  • Apply a little to your hands AND to your penis then blend with slow, sweeping strokes.
  • Warm it up a little beforehand: this can feel utterly delicious on your skin and genitals during intimate massage. Pop the bottle/container into a bowl of boiling water in preparation for your play.
  • Put a towel down and/or buy a waterproof sheet. Then you can use whatever type you fancy without the worry of staining or ruining the bed sheets or furniture!

Lube to avoid

The personal lubricant market is massive, and unfortunately not all the options are good. Always read the ingredients label and if any of the following appear on that list then put the bottle back…




Propylene glycol

Chlorhexidine gluconate

You may also want to avoid options that include Parabens or glycerin as these can be irritating to the vagina and anus, contributing to yeast infections and UTI’s. Please don’t use any perfumed oil based products, for the same reason.

If you have a favourite lube that I haven’t mentioned here, let me know! I’m always curious to try out new options.

To put your lubes to good use and learn how to give intimate genital massage check out my online courses!



Thanks for taking time to read my blog articles, I hope that they help you to feel more confident and relaxed with your body, touch and intimacy. If you’d like to support the page you can make a donation and ‘buy me a coffee’ to fuel me whilst I’m writing the next article 🙂

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Hi, I’m Libby... I'm a masseuse, a sex coach and embodiment coach. My focus is on helping you to feel more: both physically and emotionally. I work with clients who have specific issues around their relationship to sex, arousal, body image and pleasure. I also work with people who want to explore and expand their capacity for pleasure, or who just enjoy the luxury and intimacy of full body massage. I came to this work after a decade or so spent (variously) as a personal trainer, sports masseuse, pole dancer, musician and events manager. I've studied & trained in Somatic Sex Education, The Wheel of Consent, TRE and Tantric Bodywork (amongst other things). I blend my knowledge and experience of the physical body with my desire to create a healthier understanding in the world of sex, sexuality, boundaries, emotional communication, arousal and pleasure. You can read more about me and my qualifications on the 'About Me' page of the website.

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