Sex Toys: Lubricants and Lubes by Violet Blue

In my line of work there is no such thing as too much lubricant. That’s true not just for sex but for lots of things. From diesel engines to sweaty bodies, everything runs smoother when you have enough grease for your grind. There’s nothing amiss about relying on natural lubrication, but the addition of more lubrication to already-slick genitals amplifies erotic sensation like nothing else.

Not everyone uses lube for sex. I remember the days before I added lube to sex and masturbation. For me, sex without lube was good and satisfying, but not mind-blowing. It seemed that somewhere along the line I thought I should just naturally have enough lube. Now that I understand sexual physiology, I know that humans often don’t have enough. But back then, it just seemed way too scary to me to imagine reaching over my lover during sex to add lube — I was afraid of what he or she might think.

But since I started using lube, alone and with a partner, the reasons why I never used it have faded into dull, dry memories.

Actually, engines and sexual mechanics have some sexy similarities — at least in my life. For instance, my preferred mode of transportation is my Honda motorcycle, great for getting around SF, but if I want to keep it (and me) purring while in motion, I have to keep everything smoothly oiled. I mention this because the bike and I have something in common when it comes to lubes: we’re both sensitive about ingredients.

My motorcycle runs best on synthetic oil. Similarly, I have to use sexual lubes that have as few chemical ingredients as possible to avoid irritation. In the world of lube shopping, with so many brands, consistencies and features, it’s tricky to select a lube for sensitive folks. With this in mind I donned the lab coat, assembled a lineup of the most natural lubes we carry (especially the glycerin-free ones) and summoned my research assistant.

In our day-to-day research activities, my assistant and I already included regular field tests of my always-by-the-bed standards, Liquid Silk and Hydra-Smooth. Liquid Silk first made its appearance after my first week working in the Good Vibrations San Francisco store. It was — and still is — a customer favorite. It mimics natural lubrication and comes in a super-handy pump bottle. Extra bonuses I’ve discovered in my lab work include the fact that you can accidentally roll around on the bottle in the throes of passion and it still doesn’t squish out onto everything. And another naughtier plus is that it looks similar enough to ejaculate to make a suggestive fantasy accessory.

Hydra-Smooth tastes better than Liquid Silk, and has the added bonus of having vitamins A, E and aloe vera in it. Hydra-Smooth also feels remarkably similar to natural vaginal lubrication. On a deserted island, or on a cool, tiled laboratory floor, I’d want them both.

With my dedicated baritone-playing boy always grinning from ear to ear at my side, I simulated laboratory conditions in my bedroom and began experiments that lasted over a series of days. On day one, we removed our protective clothing and cracked open a big bottle of ID Glide. I squeezed a bit onto the tip of my finger and rolled the glob of gel around, immediately noticing that it felt really slippery within the gel, unlike most gel lubes that feel thick and viscous.

When compared to Slippery Stuff liquid (a very natural lube), we found that both of the clear gels were very similar in consistency, though the Slippery Stuff was thinner, yet lasted longer with condom use. The ID Glide could easily be used for anal sex, as well as for vaginal penetration or hand jobs. Both became tacky after a while unless we added more lube, saliva or water, but that’s pretty much standard with all water-based lubes.

Day two was the day I ambushed my eager assistant wearing nothing but my lab coat, a clipboard, and my glasses — and armed with something utterly new to both of us: silicone-based lube. My agents in the field always reported that silicone lube lasts longer than other lubes, but I had always avoided it because there isn’t a lot of medical data supporting safe vaginal use of silicone lubes. Though I know most all lubricated condoms are packaged with silicone lube powder, I still held out.

Recently, however, Wet Classic secured FDA approval on their line. It helps reassure me knowing it has been screened, tested and that the factory must undergo regular stringent inspections to keep their FDA seal. Sounds good to me. And good for my hapless test subject, too.

With the boy restrained, my experiments could begin. When I first opened the bottle of Wet Classic and drizzled a little onto my fingertips, I had to do a double take. It was so thin, as thin as… well, the closest thing I can think of is WD40. It’s thin, clear and almost oily feeling, but so smooth. It just took a little of it to make things slippery, unlike when I slather other water-based lubes on my honey. But I really like lube a lot, and I really like how much he likes it, so I used a good amount.

Wet Classic lasted longer than any lube I’ve ever used, seeming to stay wet forever, even with condom use. Latex condoms absorb moisture, which is why you always have to add extra lube when using condoms, but reapplication wasn’t needed with the Wet. When I tried Wet Classic on myself I was fascinated to discover that it mingled with, but didn’t cover up, my own lubrication. I could tell that this stuff was going to require a lot of testing, yes indeedy. Silicone lube stays lubricated in watery environments and it requires soap to wash it completely off — and don’t EVER spill it in your shower — so I saved the next silicone lube for day three.

Eschewing all procedural formalities, after work we hurried to my house to get out of our clothes and into the bottle of Eros Lube. I immediately took to the handy squeeze bottle, but was than eased back into a “test” position, where I watched excitedly as my assistant dripped thin drops on my clit, which was already at attention. I barely felt the lube hit; it instantly warmed on skin contact. I wondered if much landed at all. I found out in a second that I was, in fact, quite primed with lube, and it felt heavenly.

The only difference between the two silicone contenders was that the Eros seemed even thinner than the Wet; with Eros I could feel the texture of his fingertips, and later, the condom more than with Wet. The Eros was simply not as slick feeling.

The last day of testing brought us to the water-based, chemical-free O’My, which had attracted my eye with its hippie/aphrodisiac herbal ingredients, including hemp, damiana, yohimbine, saw palmetto, ginseng and more. It would be tough to follow up the silicone lubes, triathaletes of the lubrication championships, but O’My looked fun. I knew that the herbs included were actually aphrodisiacs; when properly taken orally, they can stimulate blood flow to the genitals. But that’s internally… I was willing to make the sacrifice for science and see if I detected topical aphrodisiacal attributes. What I first noticed was the incredibly sweet taste, which almost put me off the whole product.

When I wrinkled my nose, we both stopped the experiment and grabbed the bottle, re-reading the ingredients. It contains sorbitol — obviously the sweetening culprit. Sorbitol comes from beets, but I wanted to research whether it contained sugar, an ingredient that can cause problems for some users. It didn’t, and we continued, enjoying the slick quality of the thin gel, but discovering that it became quite tacky. But instead of turning sticky and yucky like other water-based lubes do as they dry, the O’My just sort of faded away, leaving smooth, dry skin. It was nice, though we still applied more — for the integrity of the tests, of course.

At the end of the trials, each lube had its own pluses and minuses. None of the candidates irritated my delicate vaginal ecosystem, making them all champions. The silicone lubes now will have a regular spot on my nightstand, right next to the clipboard and my smudged glasses. But to tell the truth, the clear winner was… me!