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.
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
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
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
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
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:
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After being a regular contributor for about four years and being (eh hem) MIA in 2022, Shellie is back penning for the platform (did you miss her? LOL).
In some ways, nothing has changed and in others, everything has. For now, she'll just say that she's working on the 20th anniversary edition of her first book, she's in school to take life coaching to another level and she's putting together a platform that supports and encourages Black men because she loves them from head to toe.
Other than that, she still works with couples, she's still a doula, she's still not on social media and her email contact (email@example.com) still hasn't changed (neither has her request to contact her ONLY for personal reasons; pitch to the platform if you have story ideas).
Life is a funny thing but if you stay calm, moments can come full circle and this is one of them. No doubt about it.
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From Monogamy To Polyamory: 'I'm In An Asexual Poly Marriage With My Husband Of 7 Years'
Have you ever wondered what it's like to be asexual and in an open marriage? Relationship Coach Mikki Bey shared her first-hand experience with us as well as answered some of our burning questions.
Like a lot of people, Mikki met her now husband, Raheem Ali, online. As soon as they met, they instantly fell in love and got engaged on their first date. Just 90 days after they met, the couple tied the knot and have now been married for seven years. Raheem and Mikki aren’t your typical married couple, and despite being married for almost a decade, their marriage is anything but traditional. Mikki and Raheem have what she calls an "asexual polyamorous marriage."
Defining Her Sexuality
It wasn't until last summer that Mikki found the language to define her sexuality. "I didn't have the language for it until last summer," she explained to xoNecole. "Looking back, I just thought sex wasn't my thing. It was never enjoyable for me, and I'd go years without even noticing.”
Mikki always thought she was broken because she had no interest in sex. Mikki noticed after her friends came to visit and started discussing their sexual fantasies that she realized something was different about her. “At that point, I knew something was definitely different about me since I do not have sexual fantasies at all. It was truly news to me that people are at work thinking about sex! That was not my experience.” This led to Mikki researching asexuality, which she soon realized fit her to a T. “It felt like breathing new air when I was able to call it by name," said Mikki.
"Looking back, I just thought sex wasn't my thing. It was never enjoyable for me, and I'd go years without even noticing it."
Asexuality refers to people who experience little or no sexual attraction, experience attraction without acting on it sexually, or experience sexual attraction differently based on other factors. Like most things, asexuality falls on a spectrum and encompasses many other identities. It's important to remember, however, that attraction and action are not always synonymous: some asexuals may reject the idea of sexual contact, but others may be sex-neutral and engage in sexual activity.
It's possible that some asexuals will have sex with someone else despite not having a libido or masturbating, but others will have sex with a partner because it brings a sense of connection.
From a Traditional Marriage to Kitchen Table Polyamory
Although Mikki never really had a high sex drive, it wasn’t until after the birth of her son, that she noticed her sex drive took a real nosedive. “I never had a high sex drive, but about a year after my son was born, I realized I had zero desire. My husband has a high sex drive, and I knew that it would not be sustainable to not have sex in our marriage at that time.”
She was determined to find an alternative to divorce and stumbled upon a polyamory conversation on Clubhouse. Upon doing her own research, she brought up the idea to their husband, who was receptive. “It’s so interesting to me that people weigh sex so heavily in relationships when even if you are having a ton of sex, it’s still a very small percentage of the relationship activity," Mikki shared.
They chose polyamory because Mikki still wanted to be married, but she also wanted to make sure that Raheem was getting his individual needs and desires met, even if that meant meeting them with someone else. “I think that we have been programmed to think that our spouses need to be our 'everything.' We do not operate like that. There is no one way that fits all when it comes to relationships, despite what society may try to tell you. Their path to doing this thing called life together may be different from yours, but they found what works for them. We have chosen to design a marriage that works for us,” Mikki explained.
"We have chosen to design a marriage that works for us. We both consent to each of us having everything from casual sex partners to lifetime partners if it should go there. We believe love is abundant and do not limit ourselves or each other on how we express it."
She continued, “We both consent to each of us having everything from casual sexual partners to lifetime partners if it should get there. We believe love is abundant and do not limit ourselves or each other on how we express it. Our dynamic is parallel with kitchen table poly aspirations.”
Kitchen table polyamory (KTP) is a polyamorous relationship in which all participants are on friendly terms enough to share a meal at the kitchen table. Basically, it means you have some form of relationship with your partner’s other partner, whether as a group or individually. A lot of times, KTP relationships are highly personal and rooted in mutual respect, communication, and friendship.
Intimacy in an Asexual Polyamorous Marriage
Mikki says she and her husband, Raheem, still share intimate moments despite being in a polyamorous marriage. “Our intimacy is emotional, intellectual, spiritual, and physical, although non-sexual. We are intentional about date nights weekly, surprising and delighting each other daily, and most of all, we communicate our needs regularly. In my opinion, our intimacy is top-tier! I give my husband full-body massages, mani-pedis and make sure I am giving him small physical touches/kisses throughout the day. He is also very intentional about showing me his love and affection.”
Raheem and Mikki now use their lives as examples for others. On their website, thepolycouplenextdoor.com, they coach people interested in learning how to be consensually non-monogamous. “We are both relationship coaches. I specialized in emotional regulation, and Raheem specializes in communication and conflict resolution. The same tools we use in our marriage help our clients succeed in polyamory."
Mikki advises people who may be asexual or seeking non-monogamy to communicate their needs openly and to consider seeking sex therapy or intimacy coaching. Building a strong relationship with a non-sexual partner requires both empathy and compassion.
For more of Mikki, follow her on Instagram @getmikkibey. Follow the couple's platform on Instagram @thepolycouplenextdoor.
Featured image by skynesher/Getty Images