Body-safe lube ingredients are super important for a healthy vaginal pH as well as a healthy sex life. Whether lube is an afterthought or an add-on, it might be time to investigate exactly what is inside the bottle of lube you reach for at the bedside table. 

It’s always useful to learn what your body likes and what it doesn’t tolerate. Even if your lube literacy may not be 10/10, thankfully more research exists to offer some understanding. Knowing the difference between lubricants and the harmful ingredients to avoid is the best place to start.

What are the 3 main types of lubes?

Lubes essentially come in three categories. The three types of lubes you’ll typically encounter are water-based, silicone-based, and oil-based.

Water-based lubricants are considered the go-to since they are compatible with sex toys, usually affordable, safe to use with latex condoms, and won’t stain your clothes or sheets. It’s important to note that water-based lubricants tend to dry out easier and aren’t the best choice for any plans of shower or underwater intimacy. 

Oil-based lubricants seem to be championed for lasting longer than water-based lube. The downside is that they tend to trap bacteria faster, creating an optimal environment for infections.

Silicone-based lubricants are popular as they are durable. The downside is that they may irritate those with sensitive skin. Overall safety is an on-going topic among researchers as compatibility between latex and certain lubricants needs further research.

How can lube throw off your pH?

With the sensitive nature of the vagina comes a range of complications when introducing harmful or even mildly irritant substances. Period products, condoms, and lubes may each throw off your pH if there is the presence of certain harmful ingredients. In the case of lubes, this may look like irritation, soreness, or discomfort. Ingredients lists that are overloaded with chemicals may be to blame for throwing things out of balance. This is because excessive use of chemicals creates an unfavorable environment for the vagina.

Lube ingredients you might want  to avoid

Petroleum or petroleum-based ingredients

Avoiding Petroleum or petroleum-based ingredients is one way to maintain a well-balanced pH. This is because petroleum is proven to contribute to bacterial overgrowth and cause disruptions in the vaginal pH balance. 


Parabens, commonly referred to as methylparaben and/or propylparaben, are other ingredients worth looking out for. Whether irritating the vaginal mucous membranes or causing rashes, parabens have long been considered an ingredient to steer clear from when optimizing vaginal health. Some studies have also linked parabens to fertility problems and possible endocrine disruption.


Anecdotes from women suggest that exposure to lubes that include glycerin increases the risk of yeast infections. More research is underway to get a greater understanding of how glycerin affects vaginal microflora. 


Spermicides like nonoxynol-9 are often added to lubes. While this may be helpful in respect to birth control, it also creates a harmful environment for the vagina. Since studies have shown that the irritability risk is significant, it is an ingredient to steer clear from or find an alternative.

Flavored Lubes

Even while the scent or taste may add a sweet surprise to your steamy activities, the labeled ‘fragrance’ or ‘aroma’ should be closer looked at. Often, the generic ‘flavored’ listing in the ingredients refers to undisclosed chemicals. Some of these chemicals have the potential to be harmful  including carcinogens, reproductive toxins and allergens. 

Choosing the right lube comes down to paying attention to the ingredients. Choosing a lube that isn’t loaded with a long list of ingredients full of chemicals is key. Sometimes, less is more. It’s also a good idea to consider the type of intimacy you’ll be engaging in and consider how your lube choice may interact with that.