5 natural lubes and how to use them

5 natural lubes and how to use them
Aloe vera is hydrating and can be used as lube.Xavi Talleda / Getty Images
  • DIY lubes are a good choice because the lubes you find at the store often contain fragrances, parabens, glycerin, and other ingredients that can irritate skin.
  • Instead, you can use common household items as lube alternatives, such as coconut oil, aloe vera, or olive oil.
  • You can also make your own lube at home with water and cornstarch.
  • This article was medically reviewed by Rosara Torrisi, LCSW, CST, MSSW, MEd, PhD, Certified Sex therapist at the Long Island Institute of Sex Therapy.

Lubricant can be a great tool to make sex feel better, since it can help prevent painful friction. But not all lubes are created equal. Some store-bought lubes have harsh chemicals that aren't ideal for your most sensitive parts.

If you're looking for a more natural option, there are several household ingredients you can use for your own do-it-yourself lube. Here are five common products that work well as lubricants and are safe for your body — and how to make your own lube at home.

Why you should consider a natural lubricant

The skin in and around your genitals can be especially sensitive, so it's important to think about which products you use as lubricant.
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For this reason, many people "prefer to use a non-chemical containing lubricant to avoid infection, irritation, and discomfort," says Alyssa Dweck, MD, a gynecologist at Northern Winchester Hospital and assistant professor at New York Medical College.

This is especially true for folks who are going through menopause, Dweck says, because the changes in hormones can make your vagina and vulva more delicate and easily damaged.

Many commercial lubricants have chemicals that can be harmful to your intimate areas. You may want to avoid products containing these ingredients:
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  • Fragrances can cause skin irritation, especially for anyone with sensitive skin.
  • Glycerin can be a problem for people who are prone to yeast infections, as it can trigger an overgrowth of yeast in the vagina.
  • Parabens can disrupt the balance of your hormones, which can cause issues throughout your body. It's especially important to avoid for people with a history of hormonally sensitive cancers like breast cancer, Dweck says.
  • Propylene glycol is found in many common water-based lubricants like Astroglide and can be irritating if you have sensitive skin.
  • Silicone-based lubricants often contain cyclomethicone and similar chemicals that have been linked to uterine cancer in animals.

If you're looking for a safer and simpler option, here are the best natural lubricants you should try.

1. Virgin coconut oil

"Coconut oil is a popular natural lubricant which is usually well-tolerated," Dweck says. One reason for its popularity may be because it smells and tastes good, which can be an added benefit for oral sex. It's important to check that you're buying virgin or unrefined coconut oil because refined oils may contain additives that can irritate your skin. In addition, you should opt for another option if you're using condoms, as oil can damage the latex and make them ineffective.
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"Keep in mind that if condoms are being used for STI or pregnancy prevention, oils are not compatible and another water-based or silicone-based lube is preferred," Dweck says.

2. Olive oil

Olive oil is another natural oil option, and just like coconut oil, getting virgin or extra virgin is best to avoid additives. Olive oil is also safe to eat, which makes it ideal for oral sex.

Olive oil has the extra benefit of being easy to find and relatively low cost. However, you may want to be careful about where you use it, as it can stain fabrics.
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Like any other natural oil, you can't use olive oil with condoms or latex sex toys. But it does have the benefit of lasting longer than many common water-based lubricants.

3. Aloe vera

Aloe vera gel is often used to treat sunburns because it has a soothing effect on your skin, which may also be helpful to fight against any skin irritation during sex.

Pure aloe vera gel may be a good lube option for people with sensitive skin or genitals, but it's important to read ingredients carefully. If you're buying bottled aloe gel, look out for harmful ingredients like alcohol that can irritate and dry out your skin. It can be difficult to get enough gel from the aloe plant itself, but you can find pure aloe products in some pharmacies and supermarkets.
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Aloe vera stands out from other natural options because it doesn't contain oil, meaning it's safe to use with condoms.

4. Avocado oil

Avocado oil has many of the same perks as coconut and olive oil – it's moisturizing, lasts longer than water-based lube, and you can eat it.

Plus, if you're looking for a more neutral natural oil, avocado oil may be your best option, as it has a less noticeable smell and taste than coconut and olive oil.
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It's an oil, so don't use it with condoms and some sex toys.

5. Vitamin E oil

Vitamin E oil is often used as a moisturizer or as a carrier oil to dilute essential oils. This means that it's gentle on your skin – even the most sensitive areas. However, because it's an oil, pure vitamin E won't work with condoms. If you want a lube that contains vitamin E but won't break down latex, a silicone blend may work better for you. "I'm a fan of Uberlube, a medical-grade silicone and vitamin E lubricant that has gained popularity," Dweck says.
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Silicone blends work well as lubricants, Dweck says, because they last longer than water-based lubes and are compatible with condoms.

How to make your own lube

You can also make your own condom-friendly water-based lube at home using a simple recipe with water and cornstarch. To make this lube, follow these steps:

  1. Mix one cup of water and 4 teaspoons of corn starch in a saucepan.
  2. Put the stove on low to medium heat and slowly bring the liquid to a boil.
  3. Once it's boiling, stir the mixture frequently for about 30 seconds.
  4. Take the pot off the heat and let the mixture cool before using it.

Insider's takeaway

Lubricant can be a great tool to increase your pleasure and decrease pain during sex, but it's important to pick the right lube for your body.
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Natural ingredients can be a good alternative to more chemical-heavy lubes, but any time you try a new product, it's always best to do a skin test first. To do this, spread a small amount of the product on a less sensitive area of skin like your arm and see how your skin reacts over a few hours.

If you have any other concerns about a lube ingredient, ask your doctor to help choose the best option for you.

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