Using lubricants during sexual intercourse is very common for people around the world. The global personal lubricants market was valued at $1.20 billion in 2022, according to a report on Skyquest.

Lubes are often a staple for enhancing pleasure and intimacy when having sex. However, many people may not realize that these products have a shelf life and require proper care to maintain their effectiveness.

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“The shelf life of sexual lubricants varies depending on its base, primarily due to differences in composition, stability, and susceptibility to contamination,” said Aliyah Moore, a certified sex therapist.

Water-based lubricants are more prone to contamination and degradation, compared to silicone-based and oil-based lubricants.

“Water-based lubes are versatile and compatible with condoms and most sex toys, but they may require reapplication during extended use,” Moore told 21Ninety. “Silicone-based lubricants, however, have a longer shelf life compared to their water-based counterparts. Due to their lack of water content, they are inherently more stable and less prone to microbial contamination.”

Oil-based lubricants, which offer a luxurious feel, can damage latex condoms and increase the risk of infection.

“If you’re using it with condoms, ensure the lube is compatible with latex,” Moore said. “If you’re using it with sex toys, choose a lubricant that won’t damage the material.”

Moore advises checking the ingredient list for potential allergens or irritants. Those with specific health concerns, such as vaginal dryness, should seek products labeled as hypoallergenic or pH-balanced. People that are prone to yeast infections or have sensitive skin should avoid products containing glycerin, parabens or propylene glycol.

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When it comes to storing lubricants, Moore suggests protecting them as best as possible from environmental factors.

“You can maximize the lifespan of sexual lubricants by storing them properly,” she shared. “Keep lubricants in a cool, dry place, away from direct sunlight and extreme temperatures. Exposure to heat can break down the formulation, while sunlight can cause degradation over time.”

Moore also recommends storing lubricants in their original packaging to shield them from environmental factors.

“Ensure the lubricant container is tightly sealed when not in use,” Moore told 21Ninety. “This reduces air exposure, which can cause contamination in water-based lubricants and oxidation in oil-based ones.”