Using a beauty product down to the last drop and having an "empty," can be a moment of pride and a sign of a quality product. But if you reach for your favorite bottle of lube in the middle of sex and it's empty, that's just inconvenient. The good news is there are a few household products that, when chosen wisely, can double as lubricant.
Finding a lubricant that works for you and your partner is very personal. Some lubes work better for a specific type of sex (such as anal), and others have ingredients that are tailored for people with a specific skin type. Though there are tons of options out there, they all do effectively the same thing, which is make sex slipperier. You have to be careful any time you put something in or around your vagina, though, because there's a possibility that the foreign substance could alter your vagina's pH and possibly cause an infection, such as a yeast infection or bacterial vaginosis.
"There are lots of organic lubes sold that have good ingredients, but even those have things that could cause a yeast infection," says Megan Stubbs, a certified sexologist.
Some ingredients, like oil, can wear down a latex condom, she adds. So it's a good idea to communicate with your partner about both of your STI statuses and birth control methods, so you can make informed decisions about what kind of calculated risk you're willing to take, Stubbs says. "Know that there's a possibility for the condom to break [if you use an oil-based lube], and weigh out the pros and cons if that situation were to occur," she says.
Also, before you use any type of lube for the first time, Stubbs suggests rubbing some on your skin and seeing if it causes any type of reaction. If you have any qualms at all, you should ask your doctor if it would be okay for you to use something as lube. Here are a few non-lube foods and household items that you could try using as a personal lubricant.
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A jar of coconut oil will go a long way as a lube, Stubbs says. Buy the kind that's solid and in a jar, and it'll melt into a slippery oil when it comes in contact with your body, she says. It also smells great and isn't as expensive as many synthetic lubricants.
Keep in mind that coconut oil could wear down a latex condom — it's oil, after all — so you don't want to use it if you're using condoms, Stubbs says. It's probably best to reserve this one for the times when you're having sex with a fluid-bonded, monogamous partner and you don't need to worry about STIs or pregnancy — meaning: when condoms aren't involved.
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Stubbs says there's a root called "nagaimo," commonly known as a Chinese yam, that has a "super slippery" texture when it's cooked. "Apparently, back in the day, they used that as lube, which makes sense because it's mucous-y and slimy," she says. "Most people don't like to eat it; it's like snot." You might have to venture outside your pantry to find this, but it works.
On the show Grace and Frankie, there's also a joke that Frankie makes homemade lube out of yams, coconut oil, and citrus seed. If you are going to experiment with your own Chinese yam concoction, be careful with oil, which can wear down condoms.
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Your own spit is always available, and you usually don't have to worry about having some sort of reaction, because it's your own saliva, says Stubbs. It can be helpful on a person's hands when giving a blowjob, or as a vaginal lubricant. "But there's no way you can have anal sex with a little spit," Stubbs adds. Your anus isn't self-lubricating, so you typically need something slipperier than spit.
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The stuff you use to treat sunburns is also gentle on genitals and anuses, Stubbs says, adding "It's often an ingredient in other lubes." So using pure aloe vera (not the bright green kind you can find at some drugstores) can be just as effective as store-bought lube. Plus, aloe vera is totally compatible with latex and polyurethane condoms, Stubbs says. "It doesn't contain any oil, which is the substance that breaks down latex."
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If you're into using essential oils, you've probably heard of "carrier oils," which are oils that you use as a base for essential oils. Vitamin E oil is an example of a carrier oil that you might have around, and could also be worthwhile to try as a lube, according to Patti Birtton, PhD, MPH, a clinical sexologist. As with all oils, you shouldn't use this as lube if you're using condoms, because it could easily wear down or rip a latex condom.
A while ago, Khloe Kardashian claimed that she uses vitamin E on her vagina to "strengthen the tissue." That's definitely not a thing, and even though you're using a lubricant, vitamin E won't protect the "delicate lining of the anus or vagina," Dr. Britton says — so just be careful.
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This is what Dr. Britton calls a "last-ditch choice," because although it works as a lubricant, it can be pretty risky. If you or your partner have a nut allergy, there's a chance that applying almond oil topically could cause an allergic reaction, according to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology. If you're "desperate for something slippery," this carrier oil will work as lube, Dr. Britton says, but it's a good idea to talk to your doctor or allergist before you experiment applying this to genitals.