5 ingredients to avoid in your lube

5 ingredients to avoid in your lube

If you’ve ever shopped for personal lubricant before, then you know finding the right product can be both confusing and overwhelming. There are so many different types and different advantages that come with each kind of lube. Not to mention, each type has its own list of ingredients, some of which you may want to look for or avoid entirely. All this, of course, begs the question: how are you supposed to choose?

Personal lubricant, or lube, is a liquid or gel that is used to reduce friction and irritation during sexual activity. There are three main types of lubes to choose from:

  • Silicone-based
  • Water-based 
  • Oil-based 

Silicone-based lube is a popular choice because it’s typically water-resistant and hypoallergenic for most people. On the other hand, water-based lube is easier to wash off and is compatible with most forms of physical barrier birth control. Oil-based lubes tend to be made from natural oils that are moisturizing and soothing for the skin. This type of lube can be a great option for women looking to avoid harsh ingredients in their lube. 

However, some formulations may contain problematic, even harmful, ingredients. In fact, all three types of lubes mentioned may contain unfavorable ingredients. That is why it is so important you check the list of ingredients before you purchase any lube.

Importance of Healthy Lube

Unfortunately, many personal care products contain some questionable ingredients, and that includes lube as well. Many varieties of lube contain some of the same ingredients that are also used in antifreeze, brake fluid, and even some cleaners. Needless to say, these aren’t the kind of ingredients that you want going anywhere near your body. 

Personal lubricant is meant to improve sexual activity not put your sexual health at risk. Ultimately, using lube is a personal choice, but many people find that it’s a helpful addition in the bedroom. That being said, it’s important that you find a lube that is not only right for you, but safe for you as well. This means finding products that don’t have certain irritating ingredients. 

In this guide, we will pinpoint the exact ingredients you should be sure to avoid so that you can make an educated decision.

What To Avoid


Glycerin is a sugar alcohol. Glycerin is similar to glucose, which is a sugar. You’ll typically find glycerin in water-based lubricants to make them more slippery.

Studies have shown that, when glycerin is used in lube, it can result in tissue damage. It’s also important to note that this could also increase your susceptibility to STIs. Specifically for women, glycerin may make you prone to an overgrowth of yeast or bacteria. Anecdotal evidence has shown that many women have experienced yeast infections when they use a lube that contains glycerin. 

As we’ve stated, glycerin is a sugar alcohol. When you mix sugar with the delicate microbiome of your vulva, it can disrupt the balance of your vaginal microflora. This can lead to the bacterial growth of yeast infections. This is definitely a lube ingredient to avoid,  especially if you are already prone to yeast infections.

Propylene Glycol

Propylene glycol is a petrochemical; a chemical compound that is similar to glycerin. However, the texture of propylene glycol is oilier compared to the syrup-like texture of glycerin.

Propylene glycol is a commonly used chemical in antifreeze. It is considered an eye, respiratory tract, and skin irritant. That being said, this is a chemical you do not want to come into contact with during sex.


Parabens are preservatives that inhibit the growth of fungus and bacteria in certain products. Parabens are commonly found in food and cosmetics. When it comes to lube, parabens act as synthetic additives which mimic estrogen.

Unfortunately, many people have had bad experiences in which the lube they are using burns or itches. This burning sensation can be traced back to preservative ingredients such as parabens. 

Parabens are also not ideal because they exhibit estrogenic properties which leads to concerns that they impair the important functions of the endocrine system. Additionally, parabens are said to be related to cancer.


Nonoxynol-9 is a spermicide, meaning that it kills sperm.

While nonoxynol-9 may seem like a good additive to ward off sperm, this particular chemical can be harmful to the vagina. 

Nonoxynol-9 kills both the bad and the good bacteria in the vagina. Disrupting the natural biome of the vagina like this can lead to infections, such as bacterial vaginosis. It can also result in unpleasant sensations, such as irritation and inflammation. Nonoxynol-9 can also increase the risk of STIs.


Petroleum is an oil that’s a byproduct of the oil refining process.

Petroleum can weaken and even break down latex, rubber and plastics, leading to possible broken condoms and unwanted pregnancies or STIs. It can also linger in the vagina and stimulate the growth of harmful bacteria in the vagina. Because it’s a byproduct of the oil refining process, petroleum can be full of chemicals that are considered potential carcinogens.

Look For This Instead

While there are ingredients in lube products that you should outright avoid, there are also plenty of ingredients that are safe for you to use. You will definitely find lube that has the right ingredients for your body. 

Here are some ingredients that you should look for:


You can never go wrong with good old-fashioned water. This should be the first or second ingredient on the list.


When buying silicone-based lube, this is the ingredient that you should be looking for. Dimethicone is the best of the silicone polymers since it is non-comedogenic and won’t clog your pores.

Cyclomethicone and Phenyl Trimethicone

These are basic silicone polymers that are also generally considered to be unharmful.


This is used as a thickener, especially in gluten-free products. It is highly viscose, nontoxic, and is considered to be hypoallergenic. It is generally made from softwood pulp or cotton linter.


This is a gelling and thickening agent which is made from wood pulp and is generally considered harmless.

Have Fun but Be Safe

Overall, lube is supposed to add to the experience in the bedroom, not detract from it. You want a lube that’ll add to your pleasure but not expose your body to harmful effects. 

That’s why it is important you avoid dangerous ingredients such as the ones mentioned in this article. Above all else, you want to safeguard your sexual health while ensuring you experience the desired benefits from a lube product

So, next time you are considering buying lube, it might be worth taking a few extra moments to double-check that ingredient list. You never know what you might find!

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