Gay sex is a wonderland of fluids, liquids, lotions, and lubes — and a smart bottom is basically a chemist. We have to know which substances irritate the anal lining and which ones do not (do not use anything with tea tree oil), which lubes work with latex condoms and which ones do not, and how to get creative in a pinch, when all you have at your disposal is a kitchen, bathroom, or garage.
Even before you get greased up, most guys prep for sex by douching with water, which is generally considered harmless as long as you release all of it. If you use a douching bulb, hose, or enema, you will probably need to use some kind of lube. If you douche in the shower, as many guys do, you will need to use a silicone or oil-based lube that will not wash off with water (or a good, unscented hair conditioner made of natural oils).
For sex, gay men have an unlimited buffet of lubes to choose from, all with different features, benefits, and uses. Silicone lube is super slick and safe to use with latex condoms, but it’s expensive, stains sheets, and cannot be used with silicone toys. Water-based lube dries up quickly but is toy safe. Oil-based lubes are some of the slickest on the market and good for most toys, but they cannot be used with latex condoms. Decisions, decisions!
You will at least need to use something because, unlike the vagina, the ass does not produce its own natural lubricant, and sex will be miserable without it. Most guys discover their favorite lube(s) through trial and error (I did), but sometimes you need some help with the hunt. Check out these 30 liquids that feature in the wonderful world of gay sex. Let's get soakin' wet!
ALEXANDER CHEVES has written articles on sex, dating, and relationships for GC magazine and The Advocate. Alex is not a doctor, but he has played doctor many times. This article describes Alex’s experiences, and caution should be taken with all sexual practices. A person is responsible for his own health and well being. Follow his blog, The Beastly Ex-Boyfriend.
Spit was probably the first lube you ever used. Most guys, gay and straight, discover spit as an instinctive lube for masturbation, and many continue to prefer spit over other sex lubes — I do. Nothing is sexier than a guy spitting on your hole before going in. Spit is very carnal, and the sex is automatically rougher, since it will never get your ass or penis as slick as store-bought lubes will, no matter how much you use (and your salivary glands can only produce so much). Using spit calls to mind the proverbial “first time” — that first innocuous thrust under the sheets on a church youth retreat or that first buddy jack-off after soccer practice.
If I am planning for a lengthy session (or if I'm going to a dance party that may feature a playroom or spacious bathrooms), spit is not going to cut it, so I rely on my favorite store-bought lube — Pjur Back Door silicone anal lube. Pjur is a German company that makes some of the best lubes on the market. Pjur Back Door, as its name suggests, is designed for use in the butt. It is thick and concentrated — a little goes a long way — and the jojoba extracts relax your hole without the desensitizing effect that some anal lubes have.
Pjur makes two versions of this lube — silicone and water-based. I always buy the silicone because I use it when I clean out in the shower prior to sex. I use a hard plastic douche with a rubber bulb (specifically, this one from Colt) that stays slick with this lube until I’m finished (water-based lubes wash off with water).
After one application, you can go hard for a while without having to replenish. Water-based lubes are notorious for drying out, while silicone lasts forever — and Pjur Back Door silicone lube is no exception. Even after washing off, your southern regions will feel slick for a day or so. Silicone lube stains sheets and lingers on door handles and shower knobs for a week, so wash your hands with soap and water before touching everything in your bathroom.
If you want to use toys — an area of sex play I highly recommend exploring — silicone-based lubes will bring more pitfalls than pleasure. Many sex toys are made of silicone. If you use a silicone-based lube to play with a silicone toy (or leave two silicone toys touching each other over long periods of time) the two chemicals may fuse and the lube can essentially “melt” your silicone dildo, costing you not only hours of enjoyment but also a hefty chunk of change, since quality silicone toys do not come cheap.
Lubezilla, a friendly Web resource for lube-related questions, notes, “Silicone based lubes are fine on toys made of hard materials like hard plastic, aluminum, ceramic, steel, granite, wood, marble, etc.” I use silicone lube on my favorite glass butt plug and have a blast.
Your local novelty store probably has an assortment of Swiss Navy lubes. Not only is Swiss Navy a long-standing, tried-and-true brand, but its products are not expensive. Swiss Navy’s water-based lubes are great for playing with toys. If you want to wear a butt plug for an extended amount of time, lube it up with this stuff and stick it in. The lube will dry, leaving the plug firmly in place.
The nasty creatives at Fort Troff designed a lube a few years ago that uncannily resembles cum. It dries out faster than I would like, but so does actual cum when used as lube, so I suppose this fact adds to its realism. If you love the look and feel of cum (and who doesn’t?) and have bukkake fantasies that you are unwilling or unready to live out (or if you are in a two-person, monogamous relationship), get a buddy to shower you with this stuff. Just don’t swallow it — it sadly doesn’t taste like cum, and is nonedible.
For generations, Crisco was the go-to lube for guys into fisting, until J-Lube effectively kicked Crisco off its high pedestal. J-Lube is the slickest, slipperiest, gunkiest gunk I have ever used in my life. Anything and everything you’ve ever wanted to know about J-Lube has been meticulously answered by a J-Lube enthusiast named Bryan (last name unknown) who has created a manically comprehensive website about the stuff that is unaffiliated with the company that produces it — Jorgensen Laboratories, a veterinary supplier. (Yes, J-Lube was designed for animals.)
Elbow Grease is a great masturbation lube that can usually be found at most sex stores. Its sparse website is devoid of information about the product, but CheapLubes.com offers a bit more info. Known for its thick consistency and odorlessness, Elbow Grease was first released in the late '70s. I have only used Elbow Grease for masturbation, so I cannot testify to its use in sex. Masturbation is important — try this stuff for your next solo session.
If you love toy play or are a masturbation enthusiast, Original Formula Boy Butter is your new best friend. When I think of Boy Butter, I think of the too-handsome-for-words ginger model Seth Fornea (Instagram: sethfornea) who models for the company (hi, Seth!)
Original Formula Boy Butter comes in a yellow tub and, upon first glance, will look indistinguishable next to the I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter in your refrigerator. For the amount you get, it is cheaper than expensive silicone lubes and is composed of an organic coconut oil and organic silicone blend. Boy Butter is safe for toys, according to its site (http://boybutter.com/products/boy-butter-original-16-oz), but not latex condoms.
If you’re in a jam and all you have is unsalted, room-temperature butter (lots of it), it will actually work fine. According to Dairy Goodness, modern-day, store-bought butter hasn’t changed much and is composed of simple ingredients: By regulation, it is at least 80 percent fat, about 16 percent water, and 3 percent milk solids. Wash your butt afterward with water and a simple, organic soap — I highly recommend Dr. Bronner’s unscented castile oil soaps for bottoms — and call it an adventurous day.
Throb recently answered the query “What makes Astroglide so impossibly slick?” in a 2015 article that examines the different ingredients in Astroglide’s two most popular water-based products — the Regular Gel and the Ultra Sensitive Gel — for anyone who cares that much about science.
Simply put, these products are filled with super-slick ingredients that are not only hypoallergenic but safe to consume orally, so if you want to suck between rounds of anal sex, this is a good lube to use. Astroglide is one of the easier brands to find in stores — most pharmacy chains carry it.
Slam Dunk is an oil-based lube that comes highly recommend for guys into fisting. I know many fist pigs and they all have a different favorite lube, and more than one friend has sung the praises of Slam Dunk.
This lube, which comes in a large tub printed with a muscular, tattooed arm, is not the cheapest and surprisingly hard to find. According to its website, it is only available at 16 retail locations in the United States (I bought mine at Rough Trade Gear in Los Angeles). Mr. S Leather, whose home base is in San Francisco’s South of Market District, sells it on its website.
Slam Dunk has a slight grain to it that I do not love, but for some guys it is the reason they use it. It has a nice anal relaxant that doesn’t numb the butt.
This is a gay staple. Gun Oil will likely be found on the pricier side of the lube shelf at your local novelty store, but the cost is worth it. Before I started using Pjur Back Door a year or so ago (and subsequently started spending more money on lube), I used Gun Oil for years. The brand makes water-based, silicone, and hybrid lubes — I naturally recommend the silicone for hours of hard sex. Bonus: On a more adventurous note, I have used the bottle itself as a toy. Its bullet-like shape almost begs to go up the butt (do so cautiously).
Legends tell of a time before I was born when jars of Crisco could be found in every leather club and sex dungeon in the country. The brilliance of Crisco is that most expensive fisting lubes on the market today all more or less copy the old-school original — a simple vegetable shortening sold for a few dollars at every grocery store. Some of these more expensive lubes add a nice anal relaxant or a nice scent, but if you’re looking to save money, use the original fisting lube.
Although I’ve seen it done, I would not suggest putting poppers in your butt. As a sex-enhancing liquid, poppers deserve a mention on this list, although they are not — and should not be used for — anal lube. “Poppers” is the colloquial, street term for chemicals called amyl nitrites — video head-cleaner — which are usually sold in small amber bottles at sex stores, novelty shops, and online. While few would declare poppers to be completely harmless, they overall do not seem to cause long-term problems for the countless gay men all over the world who use them — and who have been using them recreationally since the ’70s.
Poppers deliver brief highs when inhaled which only last a few minutes, just long enough to do what they do best: relax the anal spinchter and get sex revved up. While they are technically sex drugs, few would rank them on the same scale as crystal meth and cocaine. They are almost an undisputed necessity for fisting — I’ve never been fisted without a small bottle of Rush or Jungle Juice close by — and they have never given me anything worse than a mild headache (a common side effect).
While I know many piss pigs that love peeing up (or down) someone’s anus, few would claim that piss is a viable anal lubricant. On the occasions that someone has peed in my ass, for instance, I simply released it as if it was water, and nothing was slicker as a result. If someone wants to pee in your butt before having sex, I would recommend using some additional form of lube following the water sports.
A friend of mine in the porn industry told me that Spunk lube is a popular feature on set, since it so closely resembles actual cum. I don’t know if this is true, but it would make a great selling point. According to its website, this lube is toy-safe and great for anal. I used it for the first time at last year’s Magnitude party in San Francisco and I have to admit that it is pretty stellar. It is one of the few hybrid lubes that I regularly hear great things about — “hybrid” meaning that it is a water-based silicone lubricant. I don’t know how the science behind this works, but hybrid lubes claim to feature the best of both worlds: They are latex condom-safe but longer-lasting than basic water-based lubes.
You should avoid oil-based lubes if you use latex condoms. I rarely use condoms — when I do, I use SKYN Large nonlatex condoms because of my latex allergy — so this is not a huge problem for me and allows me to get pretty adventurous. On one such adventure, I got fingered and very nearly fisted with extra virgin olive oil on the kitchen table. For the amount you use, olive oil is certainly not the cheapest lubricant, but if you start getting hot and sweaty with a guy in the kitchen, forget the salad dressing — your olive oil will be put to better use elsewhere.
I included Vaseline on this list simply to make a cautionary note. Vaseline is a common household sex lubricant — one of my first sexual encounters with a gorgeous Russian man in Savannah, Ga., involved gobs of Vaseline — but I cannot recommend this. Vaseline is pure petroleum jelly. It will coat the anal lining and will not wash out with water because it is, by nature, water-resistant. This means it can upset and even damage the rectum’s natural processes.
Baby oil is known for its power of softening the skin and makes a useful shower sex lubricant in a pinch. If you use it in the shower, you will not be able to go very rough, and you will probably need to replenish it frequently. I once hooked up with a fisherman in a beach house that had nothing in it but baby oil and white wine, so I had to make do.
There is a story behind this one. After a friendly fisting session on my first trip to the Folsom Street Fair, I purchased my own bottle of Shaft fisting lube at Mr. S Leather to take home with me (it is available on the leather retailer’s website with rave customer reviews). Unfortunately, I packed it in my carry-on, temporarily forgetting the rules regarding chemicals and flying, and the TSA picked it up — quite literally. The security man held it over his head in his blue-gloved hand for everyone to see, including the family behind me with three young girls, and asked, “What is this?” I don’t remember what I said, but Shaft is a great fisting lube that is slightly thicker than Crisco.
Another water-silicone hybrid, Wet Silk claims to leave your skin feeling extremely soft after use, and it does. This lube feels more akin to hand lotion than sex lube and can be used with toys and latex condoms, although the website suggests doing a “small patch test” on silicone toys to see if there is a reaction before playing — a smart rule of thumb for any lube you may want to use with silicone.
Some gay men treat cum as the end-all, be-all, and all-sustaining element of gay sex. Some of the most intense sexual experiences of my life did not involve orgasm, so I don’t think it is the crown of gay sex, but in general I worship the stuff. Cum sadly does not make the best anal lube because it dries in minutes. On the occasions that I have fucked by one gentleman with another gentleman’s load, we had to add an additional lubricant pretty quickly (usually spit).
Yes is one of those companies whose product descriptions include terms like “love-making,” but this lube was worthy of a mention in Men’s Health. It is slick and completely organic. Made of plant oils, this lube is great for radical faeries and anyone looking to steer clear of unnatural chemicals.
Comparable to Fort Troff’s Cum Lube — which has a hybrid water-silicone base — this lube feels a bit gunkier and is entirely water-based. It’s another one for all you cum-lovers who want to experiment with all the different lubes designed to resemble male loads.
I’m not the biggest fan of desensitizers. I like the feeling of being opened up, and I have an irrational fear that a desensitizer will reduce my ability to register pain and, by extension, injury (I say “irrational” because most lube aficionados agree that these desensitizing lubes don’t really desensitize your butt that much).
That being said, Boy Butter’s “Extreme” Desensitizing lube only has 5 percent benzocaine, a common local anesthetic, and really does help you have a good, hard sex session. If you have ambitious ass play goals or are simply new to bottoming, a desensitizer may be a good product to invest in, and Boy Butter is a good brand to begin with.
Desensitizing lubes help you get used to the feeling of being penetrated, which for beginners takes time and practice. The spinchter is a circular muscle designed to open — the pain comes from tension, clenching up, and mental resistance to the feeling of being opened from the outside (from a penis as opposed to a bowel movement). Over time you may find that you love the feeling of being entered, but until that wonderful day comes, give this stuff a try.
There is a great writer over at Vice, Kara Crabb, who wrote an article in 2012 about her experience using flavored, edible lubes from Dickalicious as actual condiments on sandwiches and baked into homemade bread (“Taste Test: Peanut Butter and Dick Jelly.” I too have eaten nontoxic flavored lubes right out of the packet, and have found a kindred spirit in Kara. If a piña colada-flavored penis tickles your fancy, try the full line of Dickalicious arousal gels.
Similar to baby oil, Albolene is a face moisturizer and makeup remover that can be found at your local CVS. You can probably find some in your grandmother’s bathroom. Albolene is a great masturbation lube, composed of oil-based petrolatum and mineral oil.
Great for hair and sex toys! I have used this ridiculously cheap, all-natural hair product for relaxed toy play several times. Keep it away from your bed blankets and sheets — it will linger in the stitching forever. It does not make the best masturbation lube — it’s a little too thick and gummy for rapid hand thrusts — but provides just the right amount of friction for good dildo play. Since it is a natural oil product, wash your toy throughly after play.
During college, this was a sex staple. I kept it in my shower to lube up my douche before cleaning out. It’s a high-moisture conditioner without any strong fragrance and it has never irritated my butt. It has made a useable sex lube once or twice (useable, not great), but I mostly recommend it for pre-sex shower cleaning, especially if you are trying to make your expensive silicone lubes last by using them only during sex. This stuff is cheap, comes in large bottles with convenient hand pumps, and will last for months. It can be found on nearly every shampoo aisle.
ID is a long-standing and reliable lube brand. The Backslide Concentrated Silicone Lube is very comparable to Pjur Back Door Silicone — highly concentrated and super slick. It can usually be found for slightly cheaper than the Pjur version.
This oil-based sex cream is thick, putty-like, and kind of gross — great for guys looking to get nasty. It comes in a black tub and isn’t very viscous, so if you don’t like the fluid, slippery nature of concentrated silicone lube, try this. Watch this safe-for-work demonstration from the folks at Lubezilla on YouTube.