The Freddie Guide to: Lube

4 min
Freddie Team

When it comes to sex, lube is your best supporting actor. Lube keeps things running smoothly (no pun intended) and can make sex more pleasurable. Here’s our guide to choosing and using lube, no matter what kind of sex you have.

Do I need lube?


Porn makes it look like you can dive right in, but that’s not the case. Everyone – even porn stars – needs lube. It’s just often edited out! Real life sex needs a little help, because some body parts don’t self-lubricate.

If you’re having certain kinds of sex, lube is essential. These are:

  • Anal (back) sex
  • Vaginal (front) sex, if someone is on testosterone (T). This is because T can reduce moisture levels in the vagina.
  • Vaginal (front) sex, if someone has had vaginoplasty (also known as “bottom surgery”). This is because most post-surgical vaginas don’t self-lubricate. To learn more about vaginoplasty, visit our sibling service Foria.

Lube can also improve vaginal sex even if someone was born with a vagina and isn't on T. We recommend it for everyone! 

You can use lube for any kind of penetration, whether it’s with hands, toys, a penis or dilators after vaginoplasty. 

Benefits of lube

Lubricant makes sex more comfortable and fun for both partners. It also has other benefits for your health and wellbeing! It helps prevent tears or abrasions, which can raise the risk of HIV and STI transmission. It also reduces the risk of condoms breaking, which helps prevent HIV, STIs and pregnancy.

What lube should I use?

Choosing a lube can be overwhelming, but that’s where we come in. Here’s our guide to the most common types, which are usually available at sex shops, large drugstores and specialist online retailers. The option that’s best for you will depend on what you’re using it for.

Water-based lube

Water-based lubricant is often cheapest, and is sometimes available for free at sexual health clinics and other health centres. You can often find it at drugstores. Famous brands include KY Jelly.

Water-based lube is compatible with all types of condoms and toys, and it won’t stain clothing or sheets. It’s also the only type of lube compatible with dilators. The downside is that it can dry out faster so it needs re-applying more often.

Silicone-based lube

Silicone lubricant can be more expensive but it lasts longer and stays slicker. This makes it a better anal lube. It is compatible with condoms and toys made of hard materials like glass or metal, but not with dilators or silicone toys. This is because it can degrade them. One downside is that it can stain sheets or clothing.

Oil-based lube

Oil-based lube can include specially designed lubes or natural products. Some people use coconut oil as lube. Oil-based lubricant lasts longest and stays slickest, but it can be messy and leave stains. It can also be harder to wash off your body afterwards.

Oil-based lube can be used with toy materials like glass or metal, but is not compatible with condoms. It can cause them to degrade and break, which raises the risk of HIV, STIs and pregnancy. Some clinicians caution against using these lubes for vaginal sex, because they can trap bacteria and cause yeast infections.

Flavoured lube

Flavoured lubes are water-based and are designed for oral sex. They should not be used for vaginal or anal sex, because the flavouring ingredients can irritate the inside of your body.

How do I use lube?

Once you have some lube handy, what comes next?

Apply liberally 

Apply lube liberally and re-apply as needed. Especially with anal sex, more is better! You can apply with your hands or a lube applicator, which inserts the lube directly into the vagina or anus and saves mess.


Try a few kinds to learn what works best for you. You can try solo play with hands or toys to figure out what you like. You might find one type is good for your toys and another is better for penetrative sex.

Stock up

When you’ve found your preferred lube, keep some handy. Some brands even sell small travel bottles, which are perfect for trips or parties. That way you won’t get caught short and forced to DIY. Which brings us to our next section… 

Lubes to avoid

Not all lubes are created equal! Here’s what shouldn’t go inside you:


It might be hot in theory, but it just won’t work well enough. In fact, it can make things drier.


Yogurt, whipped cream, butter, margarine… These are all fine (and fun) for foreplay, but shouldn’t be used internally. 

Warming or tingling lubes

Some brands may advertise that they are suitable for anal sex, but we wouldn’t recommend it. The active ingredients in warming or tingling lubes can irritate the anus and potentially be painful. Some people even react badly to these lubes when used for vaginal sex, so it’s a good idea to test them on external genitals first if you’re doing this.

Desensitizing lubes

These lubes have a numbing effect. They might seem like a good idea for anal sex, especially if you struggle with pain or discomfort when bottoming, but pain is actually helpful. It’s your body’s way of letting you know when to slow things down, use more lube or stop completely. Since numbing lube stops pain, it can put you at risk for injury.

Pots of lube

Don’t share pots of lube (e.g. jars of coconut oil). Putting your hands into the same container of lube as someone else can transmit infections like hepatitis C. Use bottles or pump containers instead.

Now go out there and get slippery!

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