3 of the Best Lube Alternatives (and 3 That Doctors Want You to Skip)
Truth: There’s nothing more thoughtful than a special curation of lubes for your intimate time. Also truth: Everyone runs low on the necessary goods on occasion, so the best lube alternatives should be part of your working knowledge of sexual wellness. Before you MacGyver some mixture of viscous (but potentially irritating) fluids, read our deep dive into the ins and outs of lube substitutes, including what is—and what isn’t—safe to use.
Why Use a Lube, Anyway?
A lube is any substance that lubricates in vaginal or anal sex. While blood vessels in the vagina make moisture whenever you get aroused, OB/GYN and Medical Director of Women’s Healthcare of Princeton, New Jersey, Dr. Maria Sophocles praises lube for its ability to make things even more wet. “There are water-based lubes (a good one is Trojan’s H2O Closer)," Dr. Sophocles says, “and then there are silicone-based lubes, which last longer.” (For the latter, she recommends this tingle-inducing formula). And note: Water-based lubes are safe for use with silicone toys, while silicone-based lubes are not. Dr. Sophocles also points out that there are lubes that specifically combat dryness, either for every day, non-sexual use or for sexual activity (she gives a shout-out to Replens).
If you’re at all shy about introducing lube into your intimate life, Dr. Sophocles has your script: “Just say ‘Hey, check it out! I thought this would make things even more fun!’ Variety keeps this game interesting!”
But what to do when you’ve run out of your favorite formula or would simply like to explore some natural lube options? Here's what’s you can use, and what to skip, according to doctors:
Safe Lube Alternatives
Worst Lube Alternatives
- Egg Whites
Safest Lube Alternatives
1. Coconut Oil
- Highly moisturizing
- Good tasting
- Not compatible with latex condoms
- Might cause infection
- May harm sex toys
According to anal surgeon Dr Evan Goldstein, founder & CEO of Bespoke Surgical, “Coconut oil is often referred to as a relatively safe lube alternative, but there are some cautions people should keep in mind, including the potential for yeast infections and the breakdown of the microbiome.” The doctor also notes that oils aren't condom compatible. “With these precautions in mind, coconut oil is fantastic at moisturizing and reducing friction, which ultimately will enhance pleasure during sex while helping minimize injury, like fissures or tears.” But it’s important to know that not everyone’s a convert: Dr Laura Purdy, medical director of Wisp online prescription service (which makes a fine silicone-based lube, btw), recommends against putting food products in the vagina “as there is a lot of potential for contamination and also if the item has gone bad it could put you at risk for infection.” As for toys, many sex toy makers (such as Le Wand, for example) agree that using any oil-based lube—even natural, organic coconut oil—is best avoided in case it breaks down the silicone or rubber the toy is made from.
2. Pure Aloe Vera
- Good consistency
- Safe for use with latex condoms
- Toy friendly
- Can cause irritation
- Dries sticky
“Aloe Vera is a great lube alternative option in a pinch,” says Dr. Purdy. “It is soothing, and naturally has a gel-like consistency with good slip. You just have to be certain to use 100 percent aloe vera, as many bottled options also contain other ingredients.” Do a patch test before using, though, since pure aloe vera can cause stinging and irritation in some people.
3. Olive Oil
- Slippery texture
- Might cause infection
- Not compatible with condoms or silicone sex toys
“While a water-based lubricant is highly suggested during sexual intercourse, there are a handful of substitutes that have made their way from the kitchen to the bedroom over the years,” says Dr. Taraneh Shirazian, a gynecologist and Monistat ambassador. She praises olive oil for its moisturizing properties and its staying power, since it’s an oil. However, as an oil, it’s not compatible with latex condoms or sex toys, and like coconut oil, could pose the risk of yeast infection; if that happens, Dr. Shirazian recommends picking up some Monistat at your local pharmacy and seeing your doctor.
Worst Lube Alternatives
1. VaselineThis lube substitute is a definite no-no, says Dr. Purdy. “As far as repurposing personal care products as a lube alternative, Vaseline and Baby Oil have actually been shown to increase chances of yeast infection and bacterial vaginosis for people with vaginas, while the artificial fragrances commonly found in lotions and soaps can cause irritation and allergic reactions.” So use this household staple to moisturize cracked heels and split ends by all means, but keep it away from your intimates, OK?
2. Egg Whites
“While egg whites have been known to be used a lube, eggs can carry salmonella and should be avoided as to not contract an illness,” says Dr. Shirazian. (Not to mention, how awkward would it be to stop mid-foreplay to break some eggs then separate the yolks?)
Resoundingly nixed by doctors as a lubricant, spit is called out for everything from its potential to spread STIs to its ineffectiveness. According to Dr. Goldstein, spit might even make your need for lube greater: “I don’t recommend spit for anal penetration. Unlike the vagina, the anus does not self-lubricate, so you need a dedicated lubricant that is going to provide slick, long-lasting performance. Spit not only dries up quickly, but it can leave you actually drier than if you didn’t used anything to begin with.”