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If You've Always Wanted A 'Lubricant Cheat Sheet,' Here Ya Go

Like they say, "The wetter, the better."

Women's Health

Goodness, y'all. I don't know if this started off as being some twisted TikTok challenge or what, but you'll never guess what some folks are using as lubricant these days? Freakin' toothpaste. Yep, you heard me. Just like I don't get why people use toothpaste on pimples (why would you put that on any kind of lesion or open wound?!), when you think about how thick, sticky and strong toothpaste is, how in the world does it seem like it would be a good look when it comes to making sex wetter—or better? Chile, I promise you I don't know. Hmph. From what I've read, all it basically does is create genital burning, potential scarring, and a big ol' mess.

I'm hoping that none of the xoTribe is out here using what they brush their teeth with on anything else, but I will say that reading about all of that ridiculousness did inspire me to write up a lil' something on how to choose the right kind of lubricant. Not that natural bodily fluids aren't bomb or anything, but sometimes, bringing a little extra slip to the table—well, bedroom—can be what makes sex even more extraordinary. Feel me?

If you're a lubrication fan, but you're not always sure how to get about getting the kind that's best for you, here are 10 facts that can make the selection process so much easier.

1. Water-Based Lube Is Most Popular. Silicone-Based Lube Lasts the Longest.

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I'm thinking that water-based lubricant is probably the most popular simply because a lot of people aren't as aware of the other options. As far as what its benefits are, it's pretty good if you happen to have sensitive skin or are prone to irritation. Another benefit is it easily washes out of fabric. The downside is it tends to have a residue to it that can be a bit on the sticky side. Plus, it is an absolute no-no when it comes to shower sex (you would need a different kind of lubricant; something "slicker" than water).

This is where silicone-based lube comes in. It has way more slip, you can use it in water, and you don't have to keep reapplying it (like you do with the water-based kind). So, is there a downside to lube that's made from silicone? I guess it all depends on how you look at it. It's thicker, so you can't just rinse it off with water; you usually need soap too. But if you plan on cleaning up after sex anyway, I hardly see how (or why) that should be a deterrent. Do you?

2. Don’t Use Silicone-Based Lube with Silicone Sex Toys

OK, so this is one of those points that will probably seem really obvious to some and not so obvious to others. While yes, it is totally safe to use silicone-based lube with condoms, what you do need to avoid is using it with any sex toys that may have silicone in them. The reason is because putting this kind of lube on them can actually break down the silicone material over time. When that happens, your toys can start to become a personal breeding ground for bacteria. Yuck.

3. Oil-Based Lubes Should Be for Unprotected Sex Only

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If you prefer oil-based lubes, that's cool. Well, it's cool if you and your partner have been tested for STDs and you are in an honest and exclusive relationship. If there is a place where condoms and lubes do not work hand in hand, it's when it comes to lubes that have any oil in them. Oil can break down latex which defeats the entire purpose of wearing a condom in the first place.

That's why, unless you're going to have unprotected sex (or give your man a hand job), it really is best to go with a lubricant that's made out of water or silicone. Otherwise, you could end up with a few surprises.

4. There Is Such a Thing As Powder, Cream, and CBD-Based Lubricants, Too

Another option on the market are lubes that come in powder form. Yeah, that might sound a little counterproductive at first, but the reason some people prefer to go this route is because they can control how thick or thin they want their lubrication to be. And just how are they able to do that? Well, since water must be added to the lube, a little or a lot is what ultimately determines the consistency. A popular brand, for example, is X Lube.

If anal sex is more of your thing, cream lubes are something that you should have somewhere in your collection. They're thicker and longer lasting. I'm pretty sure I don't have to explain why that works in your favor when it comes to…backdoor activities. One of the oldest brands around is B. Cumming Elbow Grease Original Lubricant Cream. Just make sure to keep in mind that it's mineral-oil based. Yep—that means it can wreak havoc on latex condoms, so use wisely. (By the way, EROS has a line that is silicone-based that has some pretty strong reviews, too.)

Oh, and if you love all things CBD, we did an article on lubricant that is made from it as well. You can check that out here.

5. Warming Lubricants Suck When It Comes to Vaginal Dryness

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If vaginal dryness is something that you struggle with, avoid using a lube that is packaged as being a "warming lubricant". More times than not, they've got glycerin in them and that is an ingredient that, ironically, will only dry you out more at some point. Come to think of it, if you are prone to yeast infections, that's another reason to leave lubes that contain glycerin alone. They have been known to irritate the vagina and throw off one's pH balance. I'm pretty sure you'll agree when I say that no lube is worth all of that.

6. Use “Sperm-Friendly” Lube If You’re Trying to Get Pregnant

Here's something that you may not have known. There is some research that indicates lubricants can directly affect sperm motility. What that basically means is, if you're trying to conceive, a lot of lubes can actually work against, rather than for, you. That's why, if you are trying to make a baby, look for the kind of lubricant that says "sperm-friendly" or "fertility-friendly" on the packaging. A particular brand that comes to mind is Pre-Seed Fertility Friendly Lubricant.

7. It’s Pretty Easy to Make Your Own Lube

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Of course, DIY'ing your lubricant is also an option. This basically falls under the category of being a plant-based lube since the ingredients that it takes to make it consists of natural things like aloe vera gel, Vitamin E, coconut oil, cocoa butter and shea butter. The pros with these are they are gentle and organic. Other benefits are they last longer than water-based lubes and are compatible with virtually any sex toy. Plus, since you are making them yourself, you know exactly what is in them. The cons are they aren't compatible with latex condoms and they can be harder to clean up. But, if you would prefer to go the homemade route, you can try out a great recipe here.

8. Lubricants Aren’t Exactly As “Safe” As You Might Think 

Dun, dun, dun, dun. While lubes can most definitely make sex more pleasurable, I wouldn't say that it always or automatically makes sex safer. On one hand, it does result in less friction, which is a good thing.

But still—there are reports that lubricants can mess around and increase your chances of getting gonorrhea or chlamydia if you're using them during anal activity. How? Apparently, lube can trigger inflammation, which can make it easier for organisms to spread.

By the way, it's usually ingredients like glycerin, nonoxynol-9, propylene glycol and chlorhexidine gluconate that leads to the inflammation, so if you want to decrease the chances, read the ingredients and make sure these are as low on the list as possible before making a purchase.

9. There Are Five Things to Keep in Mind When Applying Lubricant

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Now that you know just about everything you need to in order to make a wise lubricant selection, I thought it would only be right to share a few tips on how to actually apply your lube.

  • Put a towel down to prevent staining.
  • Warm the lube up with your hands before applying.
  • Use a liberal amount during foreplay and right before penetration, for maximal pleasure.
  • Apply the lube directly onto the penis or your sex toy of choice right before penetration for best results.
  • Remember to reapply as needed; if you feel dry or irritated by sexual friction, that would be your cue.

While it's not super common for lubricants to cause side effects, if you experience any itching or hives, or you or your partner start to have difficulty breathing, discontinue use immediately. Also, take a shower and call your doctor if the symptoms do not subside. Again, this isn't something to get too alarmed about, but I had to make sure that I covered as many bases as possible.

10. Always Remember That Lubricants Do Expire

I'm not sure what makes people think that they can keep the same container of lube for the entire duration of their sex life because nothing could be further from the truth. Actually, a lubricant's clock starts ticking from the very moment you open it up. And just how long does it last once you do? Eh, about a year. So, if you've got anything that's been sitting in your bathroom cabinet or on your bedroom nightstand for longer than that, toss it. It's only gonna do you more harm than good if you don't.

For a list of some of the best lubes on the market, check out NY Mag's "What Is the Best Lube?" And whatever you do, stay away from that toothpaste (SMDH)!

Want more stories like this? Sign up for our newsletter here and check out the related reads below:

8 Natural Aphrodisiac Scents, Where They Go & How To Make Them Last

How To Eat Your Way To Better Sex

Love On Yourself With These 7 All-Natural DIY Vaginal Washes

10 Things You Didn't Know About The Male And Female Orgasm

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ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.

Reparations

We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
Sign up

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