The anus is far from self-lubricating and can only get wet if one helps it along. Anal lube is a complete necessity and one of the main attributes to pleasurable anal sex. Remember: the anal walls are relatively thin, so thicker lubricants keep them hydrated and slippery, and can greatly reduce the chance of anal injuries, such as cuts and tears (anal fissures) that increase your risk for contracting an STD. The best anal lubes will keep you safe and satisfied, explore the many different varieties to find the right lubricant for your needs.
anal lubricants to avoid
Saliva should not be considered an anal lube and should be avoided, as it will actually dry out your skin, making it less elastic. Warming and cooling lubricants, though highly desired, also should be avoided as they are a known irritant and are not truly designed for anal sex. Desensitizing lubes, unless physician recommended for specific situations, should be avoided as well – specifically in the beginning stages of learning anal play – since one should always be able to tell when an activity is painful. Otherwise, you might find yourself at Bespoke Surgical.
Water-based lubricants are completely condom-safe and offer a slippery texture that many people desire. However, because the body absorbs water very easily, even the best water based lube has a tendency to dry out quickly and needs to be re-applied fairly regularly. On the flip-side, this makes for easy clean-up. The key benefits are: it lacks the non-edible silicone taste and slippery texture you might experience during oral sex and it’s perfectly toy-friendly. Not to mention, water-based lubes are often a cheaper alternative, and therefore come in more generous quantities.
Silicone-based lubes are commonly recommended for anal intercourse due to their slickness and endurance. They are condom-safe, but are difficult to clean and tend to stain sheets or any fabric it comes in contact with, lingering on surfaces (and body parts). Silicone-based lube is hypoallergenic, which makes it a very skin-safe ingredient; people with sensitivity or allergies generally do not have reactions. They also won’t dry out and are waterproof, making them ideal for shower-play. But since silicone breaks down silicone, these lubes are not safe to use with silicone toys, unless noted as “safe”.
Water/Silicon Hybrid Lube
Water/silicone hybrid lubes are easier to clean than pure silicone lube and surely limit staining of the sheets; however, they also won’t entirely match the slickness of a pure silicone lube. The major benefits: you will get the best of both worlds with the texture and longevity of a silicone lube, while being able to use with most sex toys (just like a water-based lube).
Oil-based lubes are equally as slick as silicone (maybe even slicker), and are extremely long-lasting (making them great for extended play). In fact, they become more slippery as you add heat/friction. However, it’s important to note that oil-based lubes are neither condom nor latex toy safe, will also stain sheets and surfaces, and technically are not supposed to be used for internal anal play. They, however, are used extensively in massages and also have scents that can be quite stimulating, producing elevated releases of endorphins.
Lubes & Their Uses
Foreplay is a great way to get in the mood and help your body relax before having sex with your partner. To enhance foreplay, we recommend using lube or oil. Oil-based lube, when used externally, can feel amazing, especially ones that become more slippery as you add heat/friction. However, they can sometimes feel so good that they can cause premature ejaculation.
It’s also important to note that oil-based lubes are not condom safe (sometimes not toy safe either — check the toy’s packaging), will stain sheets and surfaces, and aren’t technically supposed to be used for internal anal play. Instead, use them for massages and try to find ones with scents you and your partner find stimulating to elevate the release of endorphins.
Water-based lubricants are completely toy-friendly and a great start to anal play. Water-based lubes are also condom-safe, so when you’re ready for the real D, you can transition from toy to penis seamlessly. Additionally, many people opt for water-based lubes because they’re easy to clean up, and they can be made with all-natural ingredients.
There’s also a hybrid (part water, part silicone) toy-safe lubricant that increases the lubricity. We like this variety of lube because it offers enhanced lubrication and a slippery feeling in addition to the benefits mentioned above for traditional water-based lubes. Not all water-based lubes are created equal, however. Our team of medical experts recommends Flip Lube because it’s iso-osmolar, meaning it won’t dehydrate your cells, which reduces your risk of irritation, tearing, and ultimately, STD transmission.
The benefit of using a glass toy set, like the Dosha 3-Piece Glass Anal Plug Kit or another compatible material, is that you can use silicone lube. So, when you switch to the real thing, you won’t have to change lubes. You’ll experience maximum slip from start to finish.
Anal Sex (With or Without Condoms):
When it comes to anal sex, real lube (not spit) is an absolute necessity and one of the main factors in a pleasurable experience. Hopefully, you’ve engaged in foreplay leading up to this moment, which helps pre-lubricate the anal canal even further. From a doctor’s standpoint, silicone lube is the best recommendation for anal sex with or without condoms. The anus does not self-lubricate like the vagina, so it is essential to have an abundance of lube to prevent discomfort and minimize the risk of injury. It’s hard to find any lube that beats the slickness and endurance of silicone.
Silicone (and water-based) lubes are safe to use with latex condoms. It’s also hypoallergenic, which makes it very skin-safe, even for people with sensitivity or allergies. They also won’t dry out and are waterproof, making them perfect for shower-play. The one thing to keep in mind is that, like oils, they can stain sheets and surfaces and take extra effort to remove from your body post-play (though this scrub was specially designed to help easily remove lube and bodily fluids). Because of this, some people prefer water-based and hybrid lubes, even though they don’t provide as much slickness as silicone does.
Special lubes, like the warming or desensitizing varieties, may look tempting, but frequently, they can do more harm than good. Warming and cooling lubricants should be avoided as they are a known irritant and aren’t designed for anal sex. Additionally, unless they are recommended by a physician for specific situations, desensitizing lubes should be avoided as well to prevent anal injury.
The alternative is to wait to use them until you know for sure that you can fully accommodate your partner. Why? People tend to use these desensitizing lubes to not feel any pain during play, but what I find is it tends to cause more localized anal issues, such as anal tears and hemorrhoids, without you even knowing it. It’s not until after the sensation wears off and the session is over that you start to feel pain.
With all of these considerations in mind, from condom and toy compatibility to endurance and ingredients, it all comes down to personal preference, so my best recommendation is to try a few different lubes and see which one you, your partner, and your body like the most. It’s not a one size fits all, but hopefully, with this guide, you’ll be able to choose the right lube for the right activity.
Find Your Anal Lube
People ask us at Bespoke Surgical all the time to recommend the best anal lubes, but as you can tell, it truly depends on the situation of use, personal preference, and budgetary requirements. There is no correct answer to the question, but the key is to educate oneself on all the pros and cons of each category and request samples from the manufactures to determine likability before purchasing. The primary thing to keep in mind is that it is always necessary to use lube for anal and it’s worth doing some research to find the best anal lube for your needs.
This page was medically reviewed by Dr. Evan Goldstein on November 13, 2020.