The Best Drugstore Lube

In a previous post, The Best Lubes: Research and What to Avoid, I wrote about the importance of a lube’s pH, osmolality, and ingredients. In another previous post, The Best Lube: Bases and Textures I wrote about the different bases and textures lubes can have and provided some recommendations. Most of these recommendations are unfortunately unavailable in a drugstore or supermarket. Looking at the selection of lube available at drugstores like CVS and Walgreens, it is clear that most options are not ideal with respect to ingredients and osmolality.

In the past, there have been times where I needed lube and the only options  immediately available to me were at a drugstore or supermarket. Plenty of people will never look beyond drugstores or supermarkets, but many of those lubes can be irritating or harmful. Fortunately, there are good options at most drugstores and supermarkets.

Characteristics of Common Drugstore Lubes

Ingredients

Many water-based lubes, especially those found at drugstores, contain propylene glycol and/or glycerin. These ingredients are often among the first four ingredients, implying a relatively high concentration of propylene glycol or glycerin. In several studies, many lubes with a high concentration of propylene glycol and/or glycerin have been found to be hyperosmolal.

Other ingredients are less common, but have still been linked to irritation, increases susceptibility of infection, or potential harm, like polyquaternium-15 and chlorhexidine gluconate.

In general, drugstore companies seem to create new formulations that – for one reason or another – includes humectants or preservatives that have been linked to irritation or harm even while removing another.

Osmolality and pH

Astroglide and KY Jelly formulations tested in previous studies were shown to be hyperosmolal [1]. These formulations include most products by KY and Astroglide, including Astroglide’s Glycerin and Paraben-Free lube, which has an osmolality of 4806 mOsm/kg [2]. If you are interested in more details about the pH and osmolality of common lubes, I highly recommend looking at the Begay et al. study (which is available for free here).

Recommendations

Water-based lubes

The following lubes are free of chlorhexidine gluconate, polyquaternium, glycerin, propylene glycol, and parabens.

  • Good Clean Love Almost Naked Personal Lubricant – available at CVS, Walgreens, and Target
  • Good Clean Love Bio Nude Personal Lubricant – available at CVS and Target
  • Aloe Cadabra – available at CVS
  • LOLA Personal Lubricant made with 99% natural ingredients – available at Walmart
  • K-Y Natural Feeling with Aloe Vera – available at Target
  • Equate Liquid Personal Lubricant – available at Walmart
  • Wet Organics Organic Aloe Based Lubricant – available at CVS

Good Clean Love Almost Naked Personal Lubricant is iso-osmolar for vaginal use, hypo-osmolar for anal use. Its pH is on the higher end of the acceptable range for vaginal use, and its pH is acceptable for anal use. Good Clean Love is widely available at CVS, Walgreens, and Target, but it is also available at many regional and local grocery stores.

Good Clean Love Almost Naked

Aloe Cadabra is iso-osmolar for vaginal or anal use. It does contain citric acid, to which some people are sensitive.

The Equate Liquid Personal Lubricant listed is specifically this formulation is made with 99% natural ingredients. There are several different Equate Liquid Personal Lubricants, but only this one is free of glycerin and propylene glycol.

The Wet Organics Organic Aloe Based Lubricant is free of most problematic ingredients, but it does contain citric acid, to which some people are sensitive.

Fertility Lubes

The following water-based fertility lubes are free of chlorhexidine gluconate, polyquaternium, glycerin, and propylene glycol.

  • Pre-Seed Personal Lubricant – available at CVS, Walgreens, Walmart, and Target
  • Good Clean Love BioGenesis Fertility Lubricant – available at Walgreens

Pre-Seed is iso-osmolar for vaginal use. It does contain parabens, in case parabens are an ingredient that you want to avoid. It is also pricy, so it is probably not worth purchasing if you are not specifically in need of a fertility lube. In addition to these national chains, Pre-Seed can commonly be found at regional grocery stores and supermarkets.

Silicone Lubes

Silicone lubes are generally free of irritating ingredients, but the following lubes are free of fragrance, glycerin, and propylene glycol. Silicone lubes are generally not compatible with silicone toys but can safely be used with all types of condoms.

  • Astroglide X Premium Personal Lubricant – available at CVS, Walgreens, and Walmart
  • Astroglide X Silicone Gel – available at CVS and Walgreens
  • K-Y True Feel Deluxe Silicone Lubricant – available at Target
  • K-Y True Feel Premium Silicone Lubricant – available at CVS and Target
  • Lifestyles Skyn All Night Long Silicone Lube – available at Walgreens
  • One Move Deluxe Personal Lubricant – available at CVS and Walmart

In addition to being available at CVS, Walgreens, and Walmart, Astroglide X (in liquid and gel forms) is widely available at local and regional grocery stores across the United States.


[1] Charlene S. Dezzutti et al., “Is Wetter Better? An Evaluation of Over-the-Counter Personal Lubricants for Safety and Anti-HIV-1 Activity,” PLoS ONE 7, no. 11 (November 7, 2012), https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0048328.

[2] Othell Begay et al., “Identification of Personal Lubricants That Can Cause Rectal Epithelial Cell Damage and Enhance HIV Type 1 Replication in Vitro,” AIDS Research and Human Retroviruses 27, no. 9 (2011), https://doi.org/10.1089/aid.2010.0252.

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