Sure, KY lube is enticing with those commercials where a shy couple simply touches the bottle and, pow! A suggestive hurricane hits, resulting in a pair of dazed looks and rumpled hair. Good thing they came up with that "Yours + Mine" formula, because what ever would we do without a blue bottle of "invigorating sensation" for him and a purple "thrilling sensation" for her which combine for such "an amazing reaction"? Does this magical color-coded sex-life-saving technology work for everyone? If two women use this together, will they burst into flames?
I never have found out what KY stands for, but I've always wondered. Somebody's initials? Was it invented in Kentucky? For me, KY has always stood for Killer Yeast infection. After months of itching, a doctor let me in on the secret. Turns out, yeasty bacteria have a bit of a sweet tooth, thriving off of glycerin, a sugary preservative in many lubes (including KY).
My subsequent exposure to glycerin-free alternatives was my first glimpse into the wide, wet world of other lubes. Later, as a sex-toy shopgirl, I was finally educated about (and tried) the best of the best in personal lubricants, turning my back on KY forever. I won't promise a his-and-her explosion or that you'll never get a yeast infection again, but I can promise you this: there is life beyond KY.
The two main categories of latex-safe lubes are water-based and silicone. Water-based are most common, their liquid form being what people are most familiar with (KY, for example). All water-based lubes are latex-safe, absorb easily into the body and can be reactivated with saliva or water. There are a lot of water-based lubes on the market. Choosing the right one depends on its viscosity (liquid, gel or cream) and what you plan on lubin'.
Liquids are the thinnest of the three, great for those who'd like to dampen but not drench. Sliquid Organics Natural and Yes! Organic Lube are KY alternatives that feel closest to the brand-name without glycerin or parabens.
Creams last longer than liquids, feel closest to "the real thing" and are perfect for people experiencing a dry spell. Though the opaque color and bitter taste can be a turn-off for some, post-menopausal women rave about Hydra-Smooth, which re-hydrates the body with aloe, collagen and Vitamin E. British-imported (and vegan) Liquid Silk is rumored to have been designed as a hand lotion, but once they caught wind of what their gay male fan base had in mind, they switched marketing strategies. You'll be glad they did.
Water-based gels add a soft, long-lasting extra cushion-for-the-pushin' and (though versatile) are highly recommended for anal play. Nobody's anus self-lubricates and though naughty, that little spot needs extra care: its sensitive tissue can tear easily, hurting and increasing the risk of STD transmission. You could try Sliquid Organic's gel or Slippery Stuff; however, the entire staff at the sex toy store that was my employer agreed that Sliquid's Sassy Booty Formula (slipperystufflubes.com, sliquid.com/sassy) was the best lube out of the countless varieties we carried, gel, water-based, or otherwise. With all the great qualities of gel lube, but without any tackiness, glycerin, parabens, or need to re-apply, this lube is more than worthy of its own hair rumpling commercial. And who could resist a name like Sassy Booty Formula?
Silicone-based lubes are an acquired taste; people either love or hate them. Silicone lubes are thinner than water-based and feel almost oily without the grease. They're unrelated to silicone implants; there is no need to worry about safety. The molecules in silicone lubes are too big to be absorbed, making them hypoallergenic, tasteless, odorless, water-proof and forever-lasting. Though they're great for those who really maximize their shower time, you'll actually need to scrub up when you're done or enjoy that slick little reminder for the rest of the day. Keep silicone away from expensive sheets (it'll stain) and your silicone toys (unless covered with a condom), as the silicone lube will bond with the toy, resulting in irreparable damage.
Ready to put down the KY? Here's what you do: find a store that has lube sampler packs so you can try a lot without spending a lot. Save the wrappers as you use them because if you really like one, chances are you won't remember which. Put a little on the inside tip of a condom, inside a glove or on the receiving end of a dental dam to transmit heat and moisture as if the barrier weren't there. Jack- or Jill-off with some extra jelly, slick up your silicone and butter up your booty with a variety of lubes that'll do a lot more than just rumple your hair. Life Beyond KY: The Wide, Wet World of Lube.