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There’s an urgency when it comes to lube. When you need lube, you need it now. So what do you do if things are getting hot and heavy, and you realize you’re out of stock? You could put your clothes back on and run to the nearest drug store while your naked partner twiddles their thumbs waiting for you…or you could check your cabinets for a worthwhile lube alternative.
There are a few common household products that can substitute as lube, including Vaseline, olive oil, coconut oil, and other things you might have lying around. We should note up front that they’re not perfect; some are better for certain sex acts than others, and some carry risks, like increasing the likelihood of a vaginal yeast infection, or—in the case of oil-based products— eroding latex condoms.
But if you’re really in a pinch, we rounded up seven trusty lube alternatives, including the pros and cons of each option. We’ll also tell you which lube alternatives work best for which sexy activities. Coconut oil, for instance, is probably better for butt stuff than P-in-V sex.
If household products are a little too D.I.Y. for your liking, we get it! Here are some other lubes we recommend. If not, here’s what to know about
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“People often forget that vaseline is very safe and effective to use on both penises and vaginas,” says Michael Ingber, MD, a urologist and urogynecologist at Garden State Urology. “Petroleum jelly (which is vaseline) is an emollient, which means it softens skin and helps it heal.”
While completely safe to use on the vulva and inside the vagina, “the downside is that it does ‘hang around’ for a while,” Ingber warns. So sometimes after sex, it can be difficult to wipe off, and people may feel a bit “greasy” down there.
2 Olive Oil
Every household (should) have olive oil in it, and while it is safe for vaginal use and anal sex, there are a few risks you should be aware of.
For one, oil-based lubes—both the manmade and olive varieties—can break down condoms. You can, however, use olive oil on synthetic condoms, like those made from polyurethane. (This risk is why many lube companies don’t actually make oil-based lubes, instead sticking to water-based or silicone-based). Second, oil is thicker and doesn’t easily dissolve in skin. That means it can clog pores, trapping bacteria in the vagina and anus and increasing the likelihood of infection.
That said, using it once or twice while you wait for your Amazon Prime delivery isn’t going to kill you. Although it might be worth it to shower afterwards to get all the olive oil off (or out) of you.
Oh, and speaking from personal experience: Be careful with your sheets. Olive oil can stain.
3 Coconut Oil
Coconut oil is another natural lube alternative. It carries the same risks associated with olive oil, along with potentially disrupting pH levels inside of a vagina, which can increase the likelihood of getting a yeast infection—especially if your partner is already prone to them. It might be better to try out some anal play if you’re using coconut oil.
4 Peanut Oil
“Peanut oil tends to be less viscous oil than some of the other vegetable oils out there,” says Ingber. “And studies show when heated to body temperature, it actually becomes less viscous.”
Some folks may actually like this, as it may be more similar to the natural lubricant provided by physiologic sexual secretions, explains Ingber. Nevertheless, like with the other oils, you want to keep an eye out for signs of yeast infections, bacterial vaginosis, or urinary tract infections (UTIs). Additionally, as it is an oil, it’s not recommended for use with condoms.
5 Vitamin E Oil
Some people keep their medicine cabinets stocked with Vitamin E oil to use as a moisturizer for the skin—and they also turn to the substance as a lube alternative, Alyssa Dweck, MD, a gynecologist in New York, told Women’s Health.
At this point, you know the drill with oil-based lube alternatives: They can break down condoms, and some women may experience irritation. So use with caution.
6 Cornstarch and Water
This alternative isn’t great if you need lube in a jiffy, as it requires a little bit of work. (Very little, but still more than pouring out oil directly from the bottle.) While there’s a little variation with online recipes, the general consensus is to dump four teaspoons of cornstarch into one cup of boiling water. Stir the pot continuously, or your lube will get lumpy. If you like your lube feeling thicker you can add more than four teaspoons, if you like thinner lube then two will suffice. Stir for about 15 minutes, and then let it cool naturally. (You don’t want to put it in the fridge to cool or again, you’ll end up with some nasty, lumpy lube.) When it’s cooled off, pour your new lube into some Tupperware or bottle for safe keeping. Store at room temperature.
“Even though it can be a little bit messy, the texture is silky smooth and cornstarch is naturally hypoallergenic,” clinical sexologist and certified sex coach Sunny Rodgers told Dollar Shave Club, adding that the mixture is “condom compatible.”
7 Aloe Vera
If this list were a competition, aloe vera would win. You can use it with latex condoms. It’s slippery, soothing, and can even help prevent yeast infections as opposed to increase the likelihood of getting one. The only thing (and we can’t stress this enough) is that it needs to be 100% pure aloe vera. Jennifer Wider, M.D., previously told Women’s Health that many aloe veras contain artificial ingredients that can irritate vaginas.
Additionally, some folks with sensitive skin might have a reaction, so it might be worth it to put a small patch on your skin, wait a few minutes to see if you have a reaction, and if not, go ahead and lube yourself up.
Zachary Zane Zachary Zane is a Brooklyn-based writer, speaker, and activist whose work focuses on lifestyle, sexuality, culture, and entertainment.
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