My skin is really, really sensitive. I like to joke that merely looking at a new product leads to breakouts. So, perhaps I should have been less surprised when it became clear my sensitive skin wasn’t limited to just my face and chest. My skin is picky and lubes and intimate products are no exception. These formulas go in and on our bodies, so it's equally as (if not more than) important to investigate the ingredients list.
Unfortunately, sensitive skin can be another complicated layer in the historically uncomfortable process of picking out a lube. But there’s nothing wrong with using lube (it's great!), and according to Dr. Adeline Coleman, MD, FACOG of the En Santé Clinic, dryness is a problem affecting more women than you might think. About 17 percent of premenopausal women between the ages of 18 and 50 deal with vaginal dryness, and roughly half of menopausal women deal with vaginal dryness and related issues.
“The number of women who suffer from vaginal dryness is often understated. Typically, when we speak of vaginal dryness we think of women in their late 40s, 50s, and beyond. This is because this condition is more commonly associated with women who have decreased estrogen levels due to menopause,” says Coleman. “We know, however, younger women also suffer from vaginal dryness due to contraceptive medications, stress, breastfeeding, or as a result of frequent vaginal infections.” Vaginal dryness is also a huge contributor to painful sex, and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists reports that, three out of four women experience painful sex at some point in their lives. While there are plenty of causes for this, lube can often help if there are no major underlying factors.
But thanks to an uptick in sex-positive brands and a gradual shift in society’s mindset, this is starting to change. “Luckily the problem is gaining some awareness as evidenced by the increasing number of vaginal products now available to women. When it comes to lubricants especially for sensitive skin, water-based, silicone, or hyaluronic acid-based lubricants are generally best,” says Coleman.
Just a tiny amount can make the difference between incredibly painful and wonderfully comfortable sex, it’s just a matter of being conscious about each products composition according to Dr. Pari Ghodsi, MD, FACOG. Whether it’s condoms or lubricant, there’s a wide range of different materials, chemicals, and ingredients, many of which might not jive with your body, especially if you have sensitive skin. “Certain ingredients in lubricants can be irritative to people that have sensitive skin. That is why it is best to find a natural or water-based lubricant with little additional ingredients,” says Ghodsi.
Things can get a bit trickier when you’ve got sensitivity to worry about on top of dryness, but luckily, there are great options both new and tried-and-true to choose from. Since an allergic reaction, no matter how minor or major, is the last thing you want to worry about in the heat of the moment, it’s important to be prepared with a product (or two) that you know won’t ruin getting down with yourself or with partners. Up ahead are the best lubricants for sensitive skin, so you can focus on the fun part.
The brand also touts that its use goes beyond sex and can be used as a gel to calm flyaways or applied to prevent chafing while exercising. “Silicone-based Lubricants are also safe and last longer but should not be used with other silicone products such as silicone sex toys, dilators, and vibrators, etc.,” says Coleman, who recommends Uberlube as one safe option for those with sensitive skin. It contains no gluten, alcohols, parabens, scents, or flavors, this silicone-based lube is a cult-fave.
Maude Shine Organic
Another pretty bottle with a formula to boot, Shine Organic is safe to use with condoms and toys. Like Necessaire’s formula, it’s comprised of an aloe base and it has sodium hyaluronate, the salt form of of everyone’s favorite moisturizer—hyaluronic acid. Also noteworthy is the fact that it’s fragrance-free and pH-balanced, so those with sensitive skin can breathe a sigh of relief.
Lotus Fresh Intimate Lubricant
This option is ideal for those who are especially sensitive to petroleum, silicone, or coconut oil as this lube features none of these. The vegan formula is safe to use with latex and provides the best conditions for smooth sailing when it comes to all your intimate ventures.
Coconut oil, also known as lauric acid, is derived from coconuts. The lauric acid found in coconut oil can have antimicrobial properties, which can help kill bacteria on the skin and reduce inflammation. It is also known to help remove makeup, exfoliate the skin, and lock in moisture.
Kush Queen Water-Based CBD Lube
While CBD is one of the buzziest ingredients out there, it’s gathered popularity for good reason. And only adding to its list of potential benefits is its ability to make sex and other forms of intimacy more fun, too. This particular lube works CBD in a way that increases sensation for users, according to the brand, and it happens to be gentle enough for those with sensitive skin to use, according to user reviews.
Coconu Water-Based Lubricant
This ticks all the boxes for what Ghodsi suggests to patients. “I typically recommend a water-based lubricant. I also recommend that people that have sensitive skin avoid lubricants with additives such as ‘tingling’ lubricants or flavored lubricants.” You’ll only find six ingredients in this lubricant, which consists mainly of organic coconut water. Things like parabens, gluten, phthalates, sulfates, alcohol, artificial dyes, or fragrances won’t be present in one of these tubes.
Glycerin- and glycol-free, this lube should be safe to use with any type of toy and latex. It’s 95 percent organic, but does have a slight lemony vanilla taste, a nice detail for those who like a little extra something to their lubricants. Jelly is also available in foil pack form, which makes fun on the go so much easier.
Sliquid Naturals H2O
You’ll find that almost any lubricant from Sliquid is one of the classic recommendations when it comes to sensitive skin. Water-based and free of glycerin and parabens, it’s easy to use and clean up. It doesn’t stain—something you may not have considered—but I'm definitely grateful for it on laundry day.
Good Clean Love BioNude Ultra Sensitive Personal Lubricant
Lactic acid probably isn’t something you thought you’d see in anything other than your facial peels, but this formula uses it to try to support the growth of healthy bacteria, contributing to a balanced pH. Aside from this, there’s zero synthetic fragrance, and the brand states that it’s "isotonic"—which means it promises not to damage vaginal tissue or strip your body of its natural moisture.
The ingredients list for this one reads almost like a well-stocked pantry, featuring things like raw cocoa butter, raw shea butter, pure coconut oil, pure extra virgin olive oil, and apple cider vinegar. A two-ounce size of the product starts at just $11, so it’s the perfect chance to try it and get hooked. Just be aware that it hasn’t been tested with latex, and oil lubes are almost always advised against when this material is involved.
Goncharenko V, Bubnov R, Polivka J Jr, et al. Vaginal dryness: individualised patient profiles, risks and mitigating measures. EPMA J. 2019;10(1):73-79. doi:10.1007/s13167-019-00164-3
American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. When sex is painful. Updated August, 2018.