A Definitive Guide to Silicone Skin Lubricants

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Due to the still-present taboos surrounding sex, purchasing a personal lubricant for the first time has the capacity to feel like a way bigger challenge than it actually is. Often, people don't understand the differences from bottle-to-bottle, which leads to just grabbing one off the shelf without considering what's in it. In turn, that can lead to unintended and often unsatisfying results.

In actuality, the three types of personal lubricants—water, oil, and silicone-based—each have different properties. Water-based lubricants can be used with condoms and toys, but have a tendency to dry up, which means they need frequent reapplication. They're also ineffective in water. Oil-based lubricants don't have those problems, but they will dissolve latex condoms, (a mistake no one wants to make.) Silicone-based lubricants are unique, in that the lube doesn't evaporate or dry up during use, but they're still condom compatible. Admittedly, though, there is one major caveat to silicone skin lubricants: they'll dissolve silicone sex toys, so they're not the best for solo sex. 

Is Silicone Lubricant Right for Me?

Silicone skin lubricant was initially developed by condom manufacturers for use in their pre-lubricated condoms, but gradually became so popular it was made available as a stand-alone product. Since then, it's become one of the most prevalent products on the market today. There are plenty of reasons for its popularity, not least being that silicone-based lube is widely considered the best for anal sex because it never dries up. Furthermore, it doesn't irritate sensitive skin because silicone molecules are so large they're non-absorbent, and the fact it doesn't react to water makes it more versatile than other personal lubricant. 

Regardless, the positive effects of silicone lube can have unintended negative consequences as well, something important to be aware of. The fact that it doesn't dry or react directly with water means that whether it's on your sheets or your body, silicone skin lubricant is not going to wash off or out of anything easily. It's going to take soap, something oil- and water-based lubricants don't need. Yeast-infection prone people may want to steer clear of them for this reason too; silicone-based lube tends to stay in the vagina until it's expelled, which can take a day or two. It's also generally pricier than other lubes (worth it, though, because you use less,) and often doesn't taste particularly good. And of course, there is always the fact they can't be used with silicone, which is the material of choice for most top sex toy companies. 

What Makes a Good Silicone Lubricant?

Unlike water-based lubricants, which offer a wide range of different textures, flavors, and viscosities, there are very few differences in the way silicone lubricants feel and work. The one main difference, which affects both the quality of the lubricant and the cost, has to do with the ingredient dimethicone. Dimethicone is a silicone based polymer, or in layman's terms, a manufactured silicone oil. It's approved for use by the FDA, and has a low hazard rating from the Environmental Working Group's Skin Deep database. So, the higher quality the lube, the higher the percentage of dimethicone. Unfortunately, this also means a higher price. The trade-off is that dimethicone-heavy lubricant feels more velvety and lush than lubricant with a low percentage of the ingredient.

Do You Have Any Recommendations?

We recommend Überlube, which is $20 at Babeland, or Maude's Silicone Shine, which retails for $25 on the brand's site.