Water based lubricants are a safe and effective option for any kind of sexual activity. There is no risk of damaging latex condoms like there is with oil based lubricants and it washes off more easily than those that are silicone based. Water based lube is the kind that is generally recommended by doctors and the kind that is offered for free in foil packets at most health clinics. Many manufacturers of these lubricants offer trial sizes online. Unlike oil based gels, these lubes do not clog pores and there is no risk of a leftover film that could potentially harbor infection-causing bacteria or yeast. Available in a wide variety of consistencies, water based lubricants are easy to reinvigorate after they dry by just adding a small amount of water or saliva, although they do tend to dry up more quickly than lubricants with other main ingredients. Thicker consistencies are better for anal sex or for play with sex toys. Thicker water based lube is generally a bit messier than the thinner kind, but easier to apply and stays on better throughout activity. Some water based lubricants become sticky and tacky once they dry, but they wash off easily with just water. Because of this, they should not be used for activity in the shower or pools.
Water based lube is better than oil based as far as skin irritations go, but it is important to keep in mind that ingredients vary and you should be aware of what to look for if you have sensitive skin or allergies. Preservatives and antiseptics called parabens are often the source of allergies for users and studies show that increased use of products containing parabens increase your chances of becoming allergic to them. Fortunately, it is easy to find paraben-free lubricants. Glycerin or sorbitol is also seen in many lubricants and is almost invariably an ingredient in any product that is scented or flavored, as these add a sweet factor to the gel. They are, however, irritating to some people’s skin and lubricants with glycerin or sorbitol are more likely to cause yeast infections in women. This is likely because the sweetness essentially feeds the yeast that naturally occurs in a healthy vaginal canal. You should also be aware of any additives to water based lube, like warming or tingling sensations, scents and flavors. If you are prone to skin irritation or allergies, use the product first on the inside of your wrist (a sensitive area of the skin) to see if you react. Although water based lube doesn’t last as long as silicone or oil based ones do, they are much easier to remove and many last quite a long time. Because everyone’s individual bodily fluids have different chemical components upon mixing with lubricants, it is hard to tell exactly how long one particular brand will last until you try it.