Plant Oil Lubricants: Safety & DIY
Before you raid the kitchen, read this!
While not for everyone, plant oils are long-lasting and can feel luxurious. They transfer body heat well and have a slower action with more skin-on-skin friction, making them a great choice for masturbation. As awesome as plant oils are, there are some important things to consider before using them for vaginal or anal sex. Here’s what you need to know.
Plant Oil Do's & Don'ts
Talk to Your Doctor – While there’s no decisive rule of thumb, most doctors seem to recommend water-based formulas first and coconut oil or silicone second. While we wish more doctors better understood the ingredients found in commercially available lubricants, your doctor will always be the best person to speak with.
Oils Cling – The biggest concern about plant oils is their ability to cling. They can resist the body’s natural cleansing mechanisms and trap harmful bacteria – bad news for our mini ecosystems. Read on to see which oils to avoid and which to consider.
Not for Condoms – With very few exceptions, plant oils should never be used with latex or polyisoprene condoms. However, you can use plant oils with silicone toys, nitrile products, and – depending on the formula – polyurethane condoms.
Mix It Up – On their own, most oils are either too greasy or aren’t very lubricating. Blends can help you find a feel that’s right for you.
Look for Cold-Pressed / Unrefined – Heat extraction and refinement destroy many of the skin-loving properties plant oils are valued for.
Go Non-Comedogenic – Stay with oils that won’t clog pores and that absorb rather than pool on your skin.
Avoid Most Kitchen Oils – Steer clear of generic vegetable, canola, corn, and peanut oils. Don’t use animal (lard) or dairy (butter) fats. Don’t use hydrogenated oils like Crisco or margarine. And, believe it or not, skip the olive oil.
Use Carriers, not Essentials – Look for the base oils found in most natural skincare products – coconut, sweet almond, hemp seed, and grape seed. Skip or minimize essential oils like tea tree, lemongrass, and lavender.
Start with Coconut
There is significant scientific and anecdotal evidence that coconut oil is the way to go. It feels great plus it has excellent antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal, and antiinflammatory properties.
What sets coconut oil apart from other oils is its combination of fatty acids. Most notable is lauric acid, which our skin produces to fight off harmful microbes. Outside of the human body, coconut oil is the most abundant source of this handy chemical – and by a wide margin. Many, but not all, of coconut’s amazing abilities can be linked to lauric acid.
There’s plenty of great research showing coconut oil’s ability to kill off yeast and help restore the microflora balance in our gut. Similar research for vaginal, oral, and skin yeast is limited but growing and the results are good news for our vaginas.
For a while, the concern was that coconut oil is such a good antimicrobial, it could harm our beneficial bacteria and throw our vaginas into chaos. Limited but persuasive research shows the fatty acids in coconut oil are great at killing Candida (yeast) and Gardnerella vaginalis (BV) without harming beneficial Lactobacillus.
We feel compelled to add a yucky note – Coconut oil doesn’t play well with menstrual blood. We’re guessing it’s because of the antimicrobial properties we’re talking about, but it’s just a theory. Whereas the grainy texture it creates is real. Just don’t.
Mix It Up
As great as coconut oil is, it’s not particularly slick or lubricating. We prefer the feel of blends and love experimenting. Remember to use cold pressed and unrefined oils.
To lighten things up, gently melt coconut oil with hemp seed oil, sweet almond oil, and/or grape seed oil. Use any ratio that feels right.
For a non-greasy butter, gently melt 2 parts coconut oil with 1 part shea butter and 1 part grape seed oil (1/2 cup, 1/4 cup, 1/4 cup).
For added luxury and skin benefits, gently melt 1 cup coconut oil with 1-4 tablespoons avocado oil, castor oil, and/or jojoba oil.
Use the double-boiler method to melt oils – check out this quick video to learn how.
DIY Plant Oils
Buy One Ready-Made
If you want to give plant oils a try before investing in a DYI project, there are several good ones available and you can see their reviews here.
Our mission is to help you find – and maybe even make! – safer, gentler lubricants. Which plant oils have you tried and what did you think? Have a lube recipe you want to share? Let us know in the comments below