If you haven’t tried lubricant in a while, listen up: There’s a new generation of products on the block and they’re here to elevate your love life. “Sex without lube is like a Slip-n-Slide without water,” says sex educator JoEllen Notte. “And now there are more options than ever.” Whether you need help greasing the wheels, want to shake things up, or are looking for an all-natural solution, there’s a lube for that.
If you…have a big partner.
You need lubricant, and plenty of it. “I recommend the water-based Sliquid Organics Gel, which is infused with plant cellulose for a thicker feel that’s gentle on the body,” says Notte. “It feels like cushioning and can act as a buffer for friction.” Thicker, water-based lubricants like this one can dry out—so don’t be afraid to reapply during longer sex sessions.
If you…want to go natural.
Perhaps you’d prefer to avoid applying something synthetic to such a sensitive area—after all, parabens, like those found in some popular brands of lube, have been linked to hormone disruption—or maybe you’re one of the few who are allergic to common lubricant ingredients like petroleum, phenoxyethanol, or propylene glycol. “This is one of the reasons I choose a lube with as few ingredients as I can find,” says sex educator Elle Chase, who recommends the PleasureWorks Please line. Want to get even more natural? “The rule of thumb is that any food grade oil is safe to use as lube, but it should be as pure as possible and free of added ingredients—so not something like Crisco. Your body will absorb anything you put into it, and my recommendation is to go for the purest coconut oil you can find.” Just be aware that using oil with condoms reduces their efficacy.
If you…just want to make things better.
Even if you don’t think you need lube, it’s worth trying out a high-quality all purpose variety. “Lube just makes sex better,” says Notte. “Please Cream is a great tool to have in your everyday arsenal, because as a hybrid lubricant—a mix of silicon and water-based—it offers the versatility of a water-based lube with the staying power of a silicone. “It doesn’t dry out and it moisturizes the skin, too.”
If you…want to get pregnant.
Using regular lubricant when you’re trying to conceive is a no-no, says sex educator Kate McCombs. “Essentially, the pH levels of lube mimic the vagina’s naturally acidic pH levels creating a super acidic environment that makes it harder for sperm to get where they need to go.” Instead, consider a sperm-friendly lubricant for your fertile time of the month. While there’s no evidence that these varieties—like Preseed and Conceive Plus—increase your chances, “they’re a great addition to your arsenal, because they can make scheduled sex easier,” says McCombs, who loves the organic Yes Baby kit, which includes lubes for fertile and infertile times of the month, plus an ovulation prediction kit.
If you…are experiencing dryness.
Around certain times of the month and as we get older, dryness can descend. Opt for a nourishing water-based formula, like the organic Good Clean Love Restore, says Melissa White, sex educator and founder of Lucky Bloke. “This aloe-based lube was designed specifically to nourish the vagina with balanced pH levels, salt, and lactic acid.”
If you…have sensitive skin.
There’s nothing worse than having your sex life interrupted by irritation or a weird reaction. “And some women find that lubricants containing glycerin can encourage yeast infections,” says McCombs. While many lubes advertise their glycerin- and paraben-free status, “if you’re prone to thrush, or are sensitive, I recommend Astroglide Natural Liquid, which is glycerin- and paraben-free and easy to find.”
If you…are experimenting.
Want to give anal sex a go? “If you don’t have lube, don’t even try,” says Chase. “An area that’s so sensitive—and doesn’t produce its own secretions—needs a thick, silicone-based formula, like Sliquid Silver. When you think you have too much, you need more. And if you really want to make things easy, try a lube shooter—it acts like a tampon applicator to make sure you’re completely covered.”
If you…want extra stimulation.
Sensations can become so-so after a while—and that’s where stimulating lubricants can come in handy. “Intimate Organics makes a nice peppermint oil-infused gel that gently stimulates,” says White. Or perhaps you want to encourage a little more personal attention before the main event. “Flavored lubricants make oral sex more fun for everyone, and the new varieties are great—like Wicked’s salted caramel, which is sweetened with stevia.”