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Anal Lube: It Does A Booty Good. Our Comprehensive Guide!

Anal Lubricant Cover Picture

By Anna Lee and Liz Klinger, Co-founders of Lioness

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Table of Contents

Why should I use lube for anal sex? Can I forego using lubricant for anal sex or anal play?

Fun sex is safe sex. When it comes to anal sex, using butt plugs or beads (including the Lioness Smart Vibrator), or doing any sort of anal play, having a great anal lubricant on hand can make or break the experience. Here’s why:

  1. Unlike the vagina, which is capable of self-lubrication, the anus cannot produce its own natural lubricant. The lack of naturally-produced lubrication can make penetration without any additional lubrication more difficult and/or just plain unpleasurable.
  2. A study on safe sex by The Pleasure Project adds, “Without lubrication, there is a risk of condom breakage and tearing of the anal lining, which increases the risk of HIV transmission." [1]
  3. Not using lube at all could cause tears or injuries of body tissue, which also puts yourself or partners at risk of STI or HIV transmission.
  4. Finally, using the right types of lubricants that are designed for internal body use (e.g. anally or vaginally) can prevent irritation, pain, and transmissions of infections. Check out the subsequent sections to see what types of products we recommend for lubricants — as well as which common ones to avoid.
The right amount of anal lube
This bear has the right idea.

Is a lubricated condom enough lube?

Generally not — it’s recommended to have more rather than less lubricant on hand than what you think you need. Moreover, lube can dry up or be absorbed by the body over time, so you will want to have extra lube on hand if you need more during your session.

One more thing — if you are using condoms, you will want to make sure your lubricant and condoms are compatible. Certain types of products used as lubricants such as oils can actually make it more likely for the condom to tear, which can increase the risk of transmitting (or getting an) infection. Use water-based or silicone-based lubricants with condoms.

Anal Lube Research

What is the best anal lube?

Having long-lasting, non-sticky lubricant can help make the experience more enjoyable, avoid tears or injuries, and prevent infections and irritation. Not all lubes are created equal though, and some products that are thought of as lube can actually cause irritation or an increased risk of infections.

We’ll first go over what types of lubricants we recommend and then some of our favorite brand recommendations.

Anal Lube 101

Before we get to our favorites, first let’s get some Anal Lube 101 out of the way first to ensure a safe and fun adventure. Anal lube generally breaks up into 3 material categories: silicone-based, oil-based, and water-based.

Silicone-Based Lube

Pros:

  • It’s great for long-lasting play: Silicone lube doesn’t really get absorbed into the human body nor does it wash away with water. This means it will stay slick and slippery longer without needing to reapply the lubricant frequently.
  • Body-safe: Silicone lubes tend to be hypoallergenic, meaning it will rarely cause allergic reactions or irritation on your body. Always make sure to read the ingredients.

Cons:

  • Will ruin some sex toys: This is one you’ll hear a lot throughout different blogs and at sex toy shops. The true answer is that it depends on the silicone grade in both the lube and the silicone sex toy. The problem is that not all companies will state their material grades, which can leave you with a sticky, ruined toy. If the toy doesn’t strictly state that it’s medical-grade or platinum silicone, don't risk it.
  • The clean-up will take some time: While it can be a pro that silicone lube doesn’t wash away with water while you’re using it, it makes the clean-up a little more difficult. It can also stain fabrics, like your bed sheets, which will require a good machine wash to remove. To clean off your body, try using a wash towel, soap, water, and some grease elbow.

Oil-Based Lube

Pros:

  • Lasts for a long time: Like silicone lubes, it stays slippery and slick for a long time during anal play. Oil lubes won't wash away with water or saliva.
  • Great for foreplay: The great thing about oil lubes is that it can double as oil for a sensual massages and other foreplay like hand jobs. They also tend to have lovely scents to them, if that’s your thing.

Cons:

  • Can’t use with latex condoms: Oils degrade latex meaning it’ll cause latex condoms to tear and break.
  • Difficult to clean up: Oil lubes tend to get messy and will require soap to clean off the slipperiness on your body and fabrics.
  • Update: If you're curious to learn more about how to use coconut oil as a lubricant for sex (including anal), you can read our article on the topic here!

Water-Based Lube

Pros:

  • Compatible with latex and all sex toys: Since its main ingredient is water, it will be gentle enough and compatible with all materials like latex condoms and silicone toys. It’ll spare you more sexytime since you won’t have to sit there and read all the material compositions of everything you’re using.
  • Easy clean ups: Usually with just a quick water rinse or wet wipe, it’ll clean up most of the water based lube off your body and fabrics.

Cons:

  • Will need to reapply frequently: Water lubes get absorbed into the skin which means during high activity and friction, it can quickly disappear and lose its slickness. You will need to reapply often to avoid any anal injuries!
And the best anal lube award goes to...
And our award for "Best Anal Lube" goes to ...

Our favorite brands of anal lubricants

Note: Prices were last updated in October 2020. Prices may fluctuate over time.

pjur silicone anal lube

Pjur Silicone "Analyse Me" Lube

Silicone-Based Lube: Pjur Analyse Me Relaxing Silicone Anal Glide.

First of all, let’s all take a moment to appreciate the play on words. The company, Pjur, has been around for over 2 decades and they’re so pro at making lubes, that they make lubes specifically for anal sex. This particular one has jojoba oil which is an ingredient that is said to have natural relaxing properties...and worst case, at least it’ll moisturize your butt! This Pjur lube is condom-safe and high-grade silicone. My favorite part about this silicone anal lube is that a few drops go really long way. It’s a good bang for your buck! You can buy it here: Amazon, $22.25 for 3.4 fl/oz.

sliquid natural water anal lube

Sliquid Natural Water Lubricant

Water-Based Lube: Sliquid Naturals Sassy Lubricating Gel. Although many water-based lubricants can constantly dry out during anal, this lubricant is formulated as a thicker gel specifically for anal. It’s definitely a high viscosity, making it really nice and thick for continued anal play without needing to reapply as much as other water-based lubes. This lube is hypoallergenic, paraben-free, and vegan! You can buy it here: Amazon, $17.00 for 8.5 ounces.

boy butter oil anal lube

Boy Butter Original Formula

Oil-Based Lube: Boy Butter Original Formula. As adorable and clever as the packaging is, don’t underestimate how much this oil-based lube packs a damn punch when it comes to anal. Boy Butter is specially formulated to last as long as silicone lubes, but also to clean easily off your body and fabrics. Their formula of vegetable oils like coconut oil and glycerin makes it look like similar to butter, but is odorless, water-soluble, and gentle on the skin. You can buy it here: Amazon, $19.47 for 9 ounces.

Uberlube

Uberlube

Best High-end Lube: Uberlube. If you get your car the best oil and gas to keep it running smoothly, you'll appreciate the same thing for taking care of your butt. Uberlube is a high performance silicone lubricant that is designed to be long-lasting, is made in the United States, and comes in this chic glass bottle. Not only can you use this and feel good about your anal play, you can impress your partner with some fancy shmancy lubricant (and some amazing sex too!). You can buy it here: Amazon, $18 for 50ml.

coconut oil anal lube

Extra Virgin Coconut Oil

Natural Lube: Coconut Oil. Ah, coconut oil. The product millennials either made you love or hate. Who knew it was as great for anal play as it is for cooking? Coconut oil is a natural, anti-fungal ingredient, making this very safe for daily use. It’s a great and natural way to keep things low friction for an extended period of anal sex. Also, it can double as a sensual massage oil and make the whole place smell so yummy! If you decide to take this natural lubricant route, make sure to buy organic, extra virgin, cold pressed coconut oil to make ensure you’re getting coconut oil in its purest and safest form. I really like this one: Amazon, $12.25 for 16 ounces.

What you should NOT use for anal lube

Can I use ___ as anal lube?

Whether you’re in a pinch and looking for the closest thing to anal lube in the house, or you want to save money or be a minimalist in what you collect, the question of “what can I use as anal lube” of quite common.

While it may be tempting to head to your bathroom or kitchen cabinet (or just use saliva), most household items that are common lube substitutes are designed for external use only. In the United States and in many other countries, personal lubricants are actually classified as medical devices and require agency approval before going on the market. In the US, the FDA defines personal lubricants as a Class 2 Medical Device (with Class 1 being the lowest-risk).

Although that sounds kind of intense for a liquid-y substance in a bottle, there’s good reason for this: the rectum, anus, and vagina are different types of tissues than your skin. It has its own pH, it absorbs liquids and chemicals differently (yes, even saliva), and can get irritated by things in ways that other tissues (such as your skin) may not be affected by. Certain substances may even post a risk for condom breakage and tissue irritation, which could increase the risk for infections or just plain hurt.

So while some of the options below may be suitable substitutes in certain cases, we generally recommend using something that is designed to be a sex lubricant. Below, we’ll go over some of the common substitutes that might be in your bathroom or kitchen cabinets.

First, here are the questions you should have in the back of your mind when you’re considering whether something may be good to use as anal lubricant:

  • Are you using condoms? Oil-based products and condoms do not mix. Studies have shown that oily products may make the condoms more likely to break, which could potentially expose you or your partner to an STI or other infections. In the case of the above study, even exposure as brief as 60 seconds of mineral oil to a commercial latex condom "caused approximately 90% decrease in the strength of the condoms, as measured by their burst volumes in the standard ISO (International Standards Organization) Air Burst Test." [2]
  • Is it safe for internal body use? The anus is a sensitive body part, and everyone is different. Certain products may cause irritation or make you more prone to infections.
  • Is it non-sticky? Sticky might mean that the product contains ingredients that may not agree with your internal body’s pH. Plus, sticky can be annoying to use and can make things less fun.
  • Is it long-lasting? Products that can last longer means that you may not need to apply it again as much mid-session (though remember, even long-lasting products may need a refresh or two!)
  • And finally: is it lubricating? Certain products will result in more or less friction than others, which can affect your overall experience.

Can I use lotion as anal lube?

Lotions are not designed for internal use. If you’ve tried using lotion as lube before… it’s like putting your hand on the stove — it won’t be nice and you won’t want to do it again.

The reason why it’s not a great option is because most lotions have a variety of chemicals and fragrances that can cause irritation or a burning sensation when it gets into contact with anal or vaginal tissue. Just trust us on this one, it’s worth looking at other options for lube.

Can I use spit / saliva as anal lube?

Although studies have found that saliva is a relatively common form of lubrication for anal sex, several factors make it a pretty bad option for any kinds of sexual interaction, including anal sex.

First, the practical considerations: saliva just isn’t a good lubricant. It is more watery than slippery (doesn’t address friction as well) and it dries quickly (need to reapply frequently). So it’s something you’ll have to reapply frequently and isn’t very good at easing the friction, which is what lube is supposed to do.

Thinking of it another way: if saliva were listed as an anal lubricant product on Amazon, it’d be getting an average of 1-2 stars for just not being a very good product.

Then there are the health risks — recent studies have shown that using saliva as lube could increase your risk of getting an STI or other infections. In one study, using saliva as a lubricant “was significantly associated with rectal gonorrhoea after adjusting for potential confounding factors." [3] This association was also noted in a subsequent study. [4] The first study also surmised that other infections that are not necessarily traditionally considered STIs, but can be transmitted through saliva, may also be transmitted through using saliva as lubricant, including hepatitis B.

So although saliva is ubiquitous and right there, in your mouth, I’d recommend getting something that’s more effective and designed to be a lubricant (not lotion!)

Can I use coconut oil as anal lube?

Some say you can use coconut oil for nearly everything. You can even use coconut oil as an anal lubricant as long as you’re not using condoms — remember: oils can cause condoms to weaken and be more likely to tear, increasing the risk of infection. Also like other oil-based lubricants, it can cause staining of your sheets.

We’d still recommend using silicone or water-based lubricants over coconut oil, especially if you are using condom or other barrier protection. It also can cause stains, which can be annoying to clean afterwards.

However, coconut oil can be a good option if condoms are not involved (and if you’re with a partner who you’re open with and trust)... and you don’t mind a bit of staining and clean up on the sheets.

We recommend Boy Butter, which specifically designed to be a sex lubricant and is a blend of coconut oil and other ingredients that are safe for internal body use. It also is easier to clean up afterwards than typical coconut oil and has a cute name/packaging on top of that!

If you're a coconut oil purist, find the most natural coconut oil formula you possibly can. This one we approve of, and you can use it afterward for your cooking/baking/lotion needs.

Can I use aloe vera as anal lube?

Aloe vera could be used as a personal lubricant provided that the product does not have additional ingredients such as different fragrances or alcohol that may irritate the body or weaken condoms or other barriers if you are using them. It is water-based, so a good aloe vera product is safe to use with condoms.

The main drawback is that, as a water-based lubricant, it may be something you’ll need to apply more frequently than a silicone-based lubricant, though as stated above, silicone-based lubricants aren’t ideal if you will be using them with certain sex toys.

You'll also want to double check the ingredients and find a product that is as pure as possible (like this one) and when you get it — test a little bit on yourself first before prime time just to be safe.

Can I use Vaseline as anal lube?

Although Vaseline is non-sticky and feels smooth, there are some drawbacks that make it less than ideal as a lubricant:

  • Vaseline is an oil-based substance that can damage condoms, which can increase the risk of infection.
  • Even if you are not using condoms or are engaging in partnered sex, Vaseline is specifically designed to be for “external use only,” which means that it may not interact well with the anus and/or vagina if it comes into contact.
  • At least one study found that for people with vaginas, using Vaseline as lubricant increased the risk of bacterial vaginosis and candidiasis. [5] Although there isn’t an equivalent study on the effects of using Vaseline as an anal lubricant, it’s generally better to stick with the label instructions of “external use only” and go with something that’s actually designed to interact with the inside of the body.

Can I use baby oil as anal lube?

Although baby oil is relatively inexpensive, it is a petroleum-based mineral oil. That means there can be a few drawbacks to using it as a lubricant.

  1. It’s not compatible with condoms: As an oil-based lubricant, it can weaken condoms, causing them to break.
  2. It is also not compatible with certain sex toys: Baby oil, like other oil-based lubricants, are not recommended to use with elastomer sex toys including rubber, TPE, and silicone. It is, however, compatible with glass and stainless metal sex toys (provided that those products are designed to be body safe, too!).
  3. Baby oil can stain and be difficult to wash out: Also because it’s an oil-based lubricant, baby oil can be difficult to clean post-play.
  4. Petroleum-based lubricants may increase the increase of infection: A recent study that surveyed women on their lubricant use and tested for bacterial vaginosis and candidiasis infection found that “intravaginal use of petroleum jelly over the past month were 2.2 times more likely to test positive for bacterial vaginosis.” Although this study focused on vaginal use and more research is needed on the effects of using different products on the body, it’s a reminder that products such as baby oil are designed to be for external use only.
An anal lube applicator we recommend

A lube applicator we recommend. Buy it on Amazon for $10.99 >>

Should I use applicators or injectors with anal lube

A lubricant injector is a small, narrow tube designed to fit different lubricants (or other creams or liquids) anally or vaginally. They can be helpful if you are looking to make your experience more comfortable (and pleasurable).

How they work is that you can put your favorite lubricant into the tube, add some lube around the entrance of the tube as well, and then you can insert the injector anally to add lubricant into the rectum and the inside entrance of the anus.

By using a smaller tube, this can be a good way to ease into anal play if you are just getting started, want to warm up before other play, or need to work your way up to a certain desired size. It also adds lubricant inside the rectum much more effectively and helps prep for additional play (since as noted earlier, the rectum is not self-lubricating).

If you use an injector, you’ll just want to make sure that you properly clean the injector in-between uses so that it is clean and bacteria-free the next time you use it. We recommend cleaning all of the parts (the injector and the tube) with soap and water in-between use.

If you’re looking for an injector, we recommend one of these, which come as a 3-pack.

Hand and bottle

Do anal numbing or desensitizing lubes work?

And are numbing lubes safe? If you or a partner are a bit nervous about potential pain during penetration, you might consider lubricants that desensitize. Although that sounds like a good idea in theory, it may cause other problems that you should be aware of, including:

  • It’ll reduce pain receptors: If you or your partner are experiencing unwanted discomfort or pain, that usually means you should stop or change what you’re doing so it no longer feels that way. [6] By using something that desensitizes you it may reduce the pain, but it also may result in injuries that you’ll feel later.
  • Desensitizing lube may numb more than you want: If you are doing penetrative, fingering, or oral sex, this lube may also desensitize those body parts, too, making the experience… well, numbing and less pleasurable. Getting a numb tongue during oral sex is an interesting experience, but probably not what you had in mind when using a lube like this…
  • Check the lube ingredients: Like with all the other lubricants mentioned above, you’ll want to see whether the lubricant is oil-based, silicone-based, or water-based, and what other ingredients are in it: You’ll want to make sure that the ingredients do not cause irritation (everyone’s different in terms of sensitivity to different ingredients) and that you steer away from oil-based if you are using condoms or other barrier protections, and steer away from oil-based and silicone-based if you are using rubber or silicone sex toys.

In Conclusion

At Lioness, we highly recommend using a lubricant designed for internal use. Not only will you have a better time, you will keep you and potential partners healthy, happy, and pleasured.

Get lube, it does a booty good. :)

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References

[1] Anne Philpott, et al. (2006). Pleasure and Prevention: When Good Sex Is Safer Sex. DOI: 10.1016/S0968-8080(06)28254-5

[2] B. Voeller, et al. (1989). Mineral oil lubricants cause rapid deterioration of latex condoms. DOI: 10.1016/0010-7824(89)90018-8

[3] Lisa M. Butler, et al. (2014). Use of Saliva as a Lubricant in Anal Sexual Practices Among Homosexual Men. DOI: 10.1097/QAI.0b013e31819388a9 

[4] Eric P. F. Chow, et al. (2016). Saliva use as a lubricant for anal sex is a risk factor for rectal gonorrhoea among men who have sex with men, a new public health message: a cross-sectional survey. DOI: 10.1136/sextrans-2015-052502

[5] Joelle Brown, et al. (2013). Intravaginal Practices and Risk of Bacterial Vaginosis and Candidiasis Infection Among a Cohort of Women in the United States. DOI: 10.1097/AOG.0b013e31828786f8

[6] “Numbing Lube Safe for Anal Sex?” Numbing Lube Safe for Anal Sex? | Go Ask Alice!, Colombia University, goaskalice.columbia.edu/answered-questions/numbing-lube-safe-anal-sex.

 

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