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Water-Based vs. Oil-Based Lubricants

Water-Based vs. Oil-Based Lubricants

Tue, Sep 24, 19 - Emma Holmes

Lubricant can be used in the bedroom to reduce friction and enhance feelings of pleasure. Whether you’re shopping online or in stores, it can be tricky to decide which lubricant to use, as there are so many different kinds available. 

If you’re practicing safe sex and using a condom, the best kind of lubricant to use is water-based lubricant. Maybe you’re in a relationship or using a different kind of contraception? If this is the case, and you're not using barrier protection, you may not need your lubricant to be condom compatible. This means oil-based lubricants are also an option for you. 

So what’s the difference between water-based and oil-based lubricants?

The fundamental differences stem from the ingredients in the lubricants. Water-based lubricants contain xanthan gum or agar agar, natural thickeners found in plants which give the lubricant it’s smooth texture. Oil-based lubricants may contain plant-based oils such as sunflower seed oil, sweet almond oil or coconut oil. Others may contain synthetic oils. 

Which one is kinder to my body?

Whilst oil-based lubricants have the ability to nourish dry skin, they cannot correct underlying dehydration because the oil only soothes the surface, rather than the deeper levels of the skin and tissue. Oil-based lubricants also trap bacteria creating an optimum environment for infections and reactions in the days following use. Water-based lubricants tend to be kinder to the body, this is because they’re typically more natural and have fewer chemicals. Water-based lubricants are used to minimise discomfort at gynaecology clinics and when women get their smear tests.

How does the feeling compare? 

Unlike water-based, oil-based lubricants can double as sensual oils, they can be used for massage as a part of foreplay which can lead to sexual stimulation. Oil-based lubricants are easier to spread and you can cover more surface area with them. For the same reason they’re far messier than water-based lubricants and can stain sheets or clothing. Water-based lubricants on the other hand are cleaner than oil-based, leaving sheets mess free and minimal residue on the skin. They feel closer to reality as the texture resembles that of natural bodily lubricant.

Which one can I use with sex toys? 

Both water-based and oil-based lubricants can be used with sex toys, though it’s considerably tricky to wash oil-based products off your sex toys and personal gadgets like pelvic floor trainers. As oil traps bacteria, you need to be very careful and ensure you’re washing your toys thoroughly, otherwise they’ll become a breeding ground for bacteria and both partners will be susceptible to infections. Water-based lubricants are very easy to wash off, and they don’t encourage the growth of bacteria. 

Which lubricant lasts longer?

Oil-based lubricant last longer than water-based as it doesn’t dry up as quickly, or get absorbed by the skin. The application of oil-based is easier than water-based lubricant though the after-care necessary to remove the remnants of the oil may mean you’re better off using a water-based lubricant and reapplying when needed. 

What do I look for when making my choice?

When choosing a lubricant always go for one that is free from nasty chemicals, especially glycerin, which feeds yeast, encourages candida to grow and leads to yeast infections. Avoid any lubricants which contain petrochemicals as these can cause burning or stinging sensations. 

If you prefer oil-based you want to look out for natural plant-based oil lubricant as these are kinder to the body. You need to avoid using oil-based substances that are not designed to be used as lubricants, for example, baby oil, vaseline and coconut oil. Vaseline is a petroleum by-product and isn’t safe for vaginal use. Coconut oil can disrupt a woman’s natural balance pH, which can lead to infections. 

If you’re looking for a water-based lubricant, find one that is gentle, paraben free and long-lasting. Our water-based lubricant is launching this Autumn, if you’d like to get early access sign up here to be the first to get your hands on it.  

Water-based lubricant