How to choose a lube for sensitive skin, according to a doctor (plus 4 reviewer-approved picks)

Sexy passionate young couple having sex in bed at home

Lubricant helps eliminate the friction that can occur during sex or solo-play with toys, making it a much more enjoyable experience for everyone involved. But you should have one of the best lubes for sensitive skin on hand if you find that the skin around your vulva, penis, or anus tends to get a little inflamed.

These lubes are typically water- or aloe-based (although silicone is better for anal play), and don't include common irritants like glycerine or fragrances. And while not all lubricants have a pH, for those that do, the ideal level will change depending on the activity: A pH of around 4 or 4.5 is best for vaginal intercourse, while a pH of at least 5.5 is better for anal intercourse.

The first step in finding the right lube for your needs is to look closely at the ingredients list on the bottle to ensure there's nothing on there that may cause irritation. For vaginal lubes, you may want to avoid phenoxyethanol, propylene, petroleum, and silicones. According to Dr. Jodie Horton, MD, chief wellness advisor for Love Wellness, the latter two in particular can "coat the vagina, making it hard to clean externally and preventing the vagina from self-cleaning." In addition, steer clear of anything that has flavor, fragrance, aroma, or a warming/cooling effect, as well as products with glycerine, since they can disrupt the pH balance of the vagina.

As for anal lubes, many of the same ingredients listed above should also be avoided, although there is one exception: silicone. Since the anus is not self-lubricating and the anal walls are much thinner than those of the vagina, silicone-based lubes may be the better choice because they're often longer lasting and thicker (while still being hypoallergenic). Keep in mind, however, that silicone lubes should never be used with silicone sex toys.

Just remember that lubes, much like sex toys, often come down to personal preference. And having sensitive skin means you might need to test drive a few options before committing to stocking up your nightstand, and you should always do a patch test first.

No matter what kind of activity you're revving up for, you'll find a list of the best lubes for sensitive skin below. They are all highly rated on Amazon and safe for use with condoms.

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The water-based lube for vaginal play

As far as personal lubricants on Amazon go, #LubeLife is consistently a crowd-pleaser, with more than 2,500 glowing reviews. It's water-based and hypoallergenic, which makes it one of the best options for vaginal use, especially if you have sensitive skin. It also has a simple formula, with only six ingredients and no fragrance. Plus, it's free of parabens, silicones, glycerin, and oil, and it's safe to use with silicone toys.

Reviewers reported that, unlike with other water-based formulas, this one doesn't get sticky, so you won't have to worry about friction ruining your good time. "Its really soft and gentle on the skin," one fan wrote. "[There's] no weird smells which is great."

Note that while the exact pH level of this lube isn't specified, the brand did confirm to Mic that it is pH balanced for vaginal use.


The aloe-based lube for vaginal play

Another worthy option for vaginal sex or solo play is an aloe-based lubricant, like this one by Love Wellness. Sex Stuff has a pH of 4, according to the brand, making it a well-balanced choice for vaginal use. The aloe helps make it moisturizing, keeping the vulva and the skin around it hydrated without causing irritation. Plus, it's formulated with sensitive skin in mind and free of ingredients that can irritate sensitive skin, like glycerine, parabens, and fragrance. "Very sensitive and this did not cause irritation," wrote one reviewer.


The water-based lube for anal play

If you prefer a water-based lube, this one by Astroglide is paraben- and glycerine-free, and it has a pH of 5.5, making it a great option for anal sex. On top of that, it's safe to use with silicone toys. "This is hands down, the best product EVER," wrote one reviewer. "Doesn’t get sticky, great price, no funky reactions." One thing to note: Due to their lightweight, watery texture, water-based lubes usually don't last as long as other types of lubes. The anus is a particularly absorbent area, so just remember to keep the bottle nearby so you can reapply as needed.


The silicone-based lube for anal play

Silicone lubes have a reputation for being longer lasting — and less easily absorbed by the body — which is why lubes like this version by Gun Oil are a go-to for anal use. In fact, this one was formulated specifically for the anus, and because it doesn't contain potential irritants like glycerine or parabens, but does include soothing ingredients like vitamin E and aloe, it's a safe bet for those with sensitive skin (Just note that because there is no water in the formula, there is no pH rating).

Hundreds of Amazon users have given it a perfect five-star rating, with many applauding it for it's texture. "It doesn’t dry out, but it also isn’t greasy," wrote one reviewer. "It leaves your skin hydrated."


Dr. Jodie Horton, MD, chief wellness advisor for Love Wellness