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Silicone vs Water-Based Lube: Which is Better, When to Use, and More

Lisa Welsh
Lisa Welsh

Podcaster
Sexual Health & Pleasure Educator
Media Liaison for the World Association for Sexual Health

Silicone vs water-based lube… Which one should you use? 

The million-dollar question many individuals and couples find themselves asking when they’re ready for an intensely (amazing!) time between the sheets. 

The thing is, there’s no straight answer. The type of lube you use will depend on what you want to do — and how long you want to be at it😉. 

This article will go into depth about the differences between water and silicone-based lube, explain which one is best in which scenarios, and give you some of the top lube recommendations for more intense pleasure.

What is lube? 

Lube is a liquid gel used to reduce friction during sexual activities. It can be used during almost any type of sex, including penetrative sex, anal sex, oral sex, toy play, underwater sex and more. 

Not only does lube intensify sensations and get things moving (in all the right ways), but it also prevents any soreness and unwanted friction due to anal, condom, or vaginal dryness.   

As such, it’s no surprise that the demand for lube continues to increase. The global demand for sexual lubricant reached a high of 37 million metric tons in 2020 and is expected to increase to 38.1 million metric tons by 2028.  

What is silicone-based lube?

Silicone-based lube is made from silicone — which is considered a synthetic polymer made up of different elements, including oxygen, carbon, and hydrogen. 

This type of lube was initially created with the aim of lubricating condoms since condoms don’t go well with oil. But, in the 90s, manufacturers started making silicone lube for sexual purposes. 

What’s unique about silicone lube is its slick and slippery texture — making it an ideal ingredient used in many personal lubricants. It’s thick enough to provide a fantastic glide that feels phenomenal. 

However, silicone lube can’t be used with a silicone toy since it’ll ruin it. 

What is water-based lube?

Water-based lube usually consists of a combination of vegetable glycerin and water. Unlike silicone lube, water-based lube can be used with silicone sex toys. 

One of the downsides to water-based lubes is that it tends to dry up more quickly during sex and requires frequent reapplication to avoid condom breakage. It’s also not ideal for shower use since it disintegrates in water. 

Main differences between silicone vs water-based lube

So, which type of lube should you use? 

Well, the answer depends on many different factors, including: 

  • Where you’re having sex (location and body)
  • How long you plan on having sex
  • Whether you’re using sex toys or not
  • What type of sensation you like

1. Thickness

You’ll notice a considerable difference in the thickness of these two types of lubes. Water-based lube tends to be a lot “thinner” than silicone-based lube. As a result of its “thinness”, water-based lube is absorbed by vaginal cells — which causes it to dry after a while. 

On the other end of the spectrum, silicone-based lube is far thicker and can’t be absorbed. This means it’ll stay wetter for longer and enhance the experience — especially during anal play. 

2. Compatibility with toys

Water-based lube can be used with all sex toys, including toys made from silicone.

alt: image of multiple silicone sex toys

On the other hand, silicone-based lube can’t be used with toys made from silicone or Cyberskin. This is because silicone tends to react with toys which may cause complications. 

Bottom line: If you’re buying lube for toys, go with water-based lube.  

Need sex toy inspiration? Head over to my Top 15 Fifty Shades of Grey Toys article that’ll give you a list of fantastic sex toys you can consider.  

3. Easy to clean

Water-based lube is generally easier to clean after a super hot sex sesh since it contains vegetable extracts and water. The classic warm water and soap combination is more than enough to clean it from your body or toys. 

Silicone lubricant can also be cleaned from your skin with warm(er) water and soap. However, if the silicone lube gets on your sheets and the stain dries, you’ll need to use dishwasher detergent to break down the silicone before throwing the sheets into the wash.  

4. Compatibility with condoms

Both water-based and silicone-based lube can work with various types of condoms. That being said, some silicone lubes don’t work with a latex condom since they can create reactions. 

Thus, if you want latex condoms, it’s best to steer clear of silicone lube and use water lubricant instead. 

5. Long-lasting

Look… Silicone lube is the way to go if you’re in the mood for a sexy-as-hell, super-long sex session. 

Not only does silicone lube take longer to dry up, but it’s also more slippery — meaning that you’ll be able to move faster and deeper. 

alt: image of lube dripping off of a hand

On top of that, you also won’t have to continuously reapply lube while you’re busy (talk about a mood killer, am I right?). Applying a good amount of silicone lube will keep you going and feeling intense pleasure. 

6. Anal play

When it comes to anal sex, lube is essential because the anus doesn’t self-lubricate like the vagina. And when it comes to butt-stuff silicone-based lube outperforms water-based lube by a mile. This is because silicone lube is thicker and provides a more slippery surface. 

This makes it easier to penetrate and slide past the restrictive anal muscles and keeps the rectum lubricated throughout. 

While you can still use water-based lube for anal sex, you’ll have to apply a lot of it and may need to reapply while you’re busy since it tends to dry up fast. 

7. Aquatic play

Did someone say shower sex? 👀 

Silicone lubricant is best if you enjoy having sex in the water (raising my hand here) — whether in the shower, the bath, or, heck, even the pool. 

This is because the performance of water-based lube is directly affected by water since it tends to lose its slipperiness when exposed to water. 

Silicone lube, on the other hand, will maintain its consistency and will work like a charm. 

8. Oral play

Are you thinking of using lube during oral sex? Excellent choice!

While saliva is excellent for oral sex, lube will make it ten times more slippery, sensational, and intense. 

alt: image of woman licking a popsicle

You can use both water and silicone-based lube when going down on your partner. There are a few ways you can do this: 

  • Add lube to your finger to add a “second tongue” feeling
  • Put the lube around your lips before heading downtown 
  • Drop the lube on your partner’s hot spots 

Just be careful not to swallow too much silicone lube. 

Need some tips on giving blowjobs? Learn how to give amazing head that’ll blow your man’s mind every time. 

How to choose lube

In addition to keeping the differences mentioned earlier in mind, you must consider other factors when choosing whether you want to use silicone or water-based lube. 

Consider your skin 

If you have sensitive skin, water-based lube is usually better since it contains natural ingredients (that don’t cause irritations as easily). Also, keep an eye on the ingredients on the back of the packaging to make sure you’re good to go. 

You can test the lube on a small part of your skin (such as the inside of your elbow). If it itches or causes irritation, don’t use it. 

alt: image of a woman scratching her arm

Consider your preferences 

In addition to choosing the best lube for you based on functionality, you must find one that suits your preferences as well. Otherwise, you might not enjoy the experience as much. 

This isn’t limited to choosing between silicone or water-based lubricants but also other features such as the taste, smell, and sensation it produces. 

Modern-day sex add-ons bring with them tons of choices. Including fruity lubes, desert lubes, and much more. Just be careful that you don’t use flavoured lubes inside the vagina.

Now you can have your cake and (literally) eat it, too!😉

Where to buy lube

Look… I’ve tried A LOT of lubes in my day, and a few stand out. Here are some of my top picks: 

  • Liquid Gold Lube has various lubes, including silicone, water-based, and even CBD lubricants. The great thing about Liquid Gold Lube is that it produces 100% natural lube that is cruelty-free, eco-friendly, and edible. (Use code: “LISALOVES” to get a 15% discount on your Intimate Touch purchase).
alt: image of liquid gold lube product
  • Intimate Touch offers both water-based and silicone lubes – as well as lubes in multiple scents and flavours, including Aloe Vera, Passion Fruit, and many more. They also provide toy cleaners to remove the lube from your toys easily. (Use code: “LISALOVES” to get a 10% discount on your Intimate Touch purchase).
  • Durex is a famous global lubricant, sex toy, and condom provider. It has a vast range of lubes to choose from, including various types of lube, flavours, sensations, and much more. 

Ready to experience more pleasure?

So, after reading this article, are you team silicone or team water?

Regardless of which lube you choose, you’re guaranteed to have loads more fun in bed — whether with someone or on your own. 

Want to learn how to pleasure yourself the RIGHT way so you can experience more intense orgasms? Take a look at my Vulva Pleasure Masterclass that’ll teach you the ins and outs of pleasuring yourself. 

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