Lube, Arousal Nonconcordance, and You

If you and I are friends, there’s a very good chance that at some point I have either given you lube or recommended lube to you. If we’re really good friends, you’ve probably received a bottle of Sliquid. Here’s why: Lube makes everything better.

sliquid lube personal lubricant come as you are emily nagoski

Pictured: Kindle screen showing the cover of Come As You Are by Emily Nagoski & bottles of Sliquid (Silk, Sassy, and Sea) laying on a faux sheepskin.

“But I don’t need lube!”

It is possible that you don’t need lube. You really may not, especially if you’re never putting anything in your anus (or someone else’s). You may go through your entire life with a well-lubricated vagina, never needing to touch a bottle of the stuff. But you are actually in the minority and your experience is not true for everyone.

Let’s talk about the rest of us, though. Maybe you’re someone who generally produces enough lubrication on your own, but sometimes you need a boost. If you’re having penis-in-vagina sex (bio dick or dildo) and it lasts longer than 10 or 15 minutes, chances are good that you’ve experienced some friction. That’s perfectly normal – you are not broken – but it isn’t really ideal, is it? Enter: Lube.

If you’re having anal sex, you are really going to need lube. The anus isn’t self-lubricating in the same way that the vagina is and it’s very susceptible to tearing. No matter what you’ve seen in porn, spit is not lubricant enough for anal sex. When I talk to anyone who’s had anal sex once and will never do it again, the #1 thing I hear is that they didn’t use good lube and they didn’t move slowly. So, unless you are specifically after some (consensual) pain and discomfort, you’re going to want to pick up some lube.

“You only need lube if you’re not aroused!”

Nope! Not true. Simply not true.

Have you ever heard of arousal nonconcordance? It’s the best kept secret that really ought to be common knowledge. It’s not even a new discovery – it just heavily contradicts our cultural understanding of arousal. But once you know, it’ll change your life.

It is neither wrong nor uncommon for your physiology to not match your mental experience of arousal, and vice versa. What does that mean? In short, it is 100% possible to be mentally aroused and for your genitals not to be responding in the way that you think they should. Likewise, genital response (erection, lubrication) are not a reliable indication of someone’s mental arousal.

Let’s say that you’re making out with someone you’re really into and things are heating up. You feel relaxed with them but also very excited about what might be happening. You’re super enthusiastic, definitely turned on… and your genitals don’t seem to agree. You’re either not getting/maintaining an erection, or you don’t feel ‘wet’. What gives? Does this mean you aren’t into them after all? Does it mean there’s something wrong with you?

Nope. Arousal nonconcordance. It just is what it is. If you’re mentally a yes and your body isn’t doing what you’ve come to expect it to do, that’s actually perfectly normal. The more you stress about it, the harder it will be to relax and enjoy yourself. And sex really should be about enjoying yourself, right? I know that performance anxiety is a big issue for a lot of people, but it’s not a performance. It’s a collaborative experience of fun.

When you understand arousal nonconcordance, you can be easier on yourself and on your partners. You don’t have to worry when someone says that they’re really into you but their body isn’t doing what you’ve come to expect. Trust them. If you’re not getting hard or not getting wet, don’t stress. Create an environment where you can relax and explore.

What does this have to do with lube? It turns out that folks with vaginas tend to experience more arousal nonconcordance than folks with penises. According to some studies, their mental arousal and the genital response may only match about 10% of the time1. If you have a vagina and you’ve often experienced not ‘getting wet’ but being totally turned on and ready for sex, then you’re 100% normal. Better still, there’s a lube out there for you.

Shopping for Lube

Lube seems deceptively simple, right? You can get it at any drugstore, superstore, and even many grocery stores. But how do you know that you got a good lube?

There are three major categories of lube – water, oil, and silicone based.

Water-based is what almost everyone’s first lube is, and it’s the category that lubes like Astroglide and KY jelly fall under. So if you think you hate lube, you probably had a bad experience with a terrible water-based lube. Luckily, we have far better options to consider! Water-based lube is a great choice for playing with silicone toys, using with condoms, or for when you just need a little bit of extra help in the wetness department. Usually, water-based lube won’t last longer than 15 or 20 minutes, so you may need to re-apply it. In general, you want to look for a water-based lube that is free of glycerin, parabens, and propylene glycol. For help choosing a water-based lubricant, check out this awesome chart from The Smitten Kitten’s lube expert Sarah Mueller.

Oil-based lubricant gets a bad rap in some circle because it generally isn’t vagina-safe and is not safe with latex condoms. However, coconut oil or another good quality plant-based organic oil, plays nicely with most vaginas but still isn’t safe with latex condoms. Oil-based lube is also great for both anal play and masturbation for folks with penises. Looking for a condom you can use with an oil-based lube? Try nitrile or polyurethane, like Trojan Supra.

Silicone-based lube is incredible for longer sex sessions and for all kinds of lube hacks. Frizzy hair? Silicone lube. Chafing thighs? Silicone lube! If you just want to have a marathon sex session with or without a condom, silicone lube is a fantastic choice. It’s also great for folks with a lot of chemical sensitivities. It’s worth noting that most of the time, you don’t want to combine silicone lube with silicone toys. There are exceptions, though, particularly when a high quality silicone lube is involved. If you want to try a silicone lube with one of your silicone toys, test it in an inconspicuous area that doesn’t come into contact with your genitals, like the base of a dildo. If it gets gummy, it’s not compatible.

If you’re interested in geeking out even further, Sarah Mueller was recently on Sex Gets Real with Dawn Serra, sharing her original research on lube, BV, and STIs.

My Favorite Lubes

Sliquid makes my all-time favorite lubes and they have a lube for every occasion. In general, I tend to reach for one of the three pictured above: Silk, Sassy, or Sea.

Sliquid Silk is a hybrid lube, meaning it contains both silicone and water. It’s safe to use with silicone toys because its silicone content is relatively low. But, because it does have some silicone in it, it’s longer lasting than your average water-based lube. I would recommend Sliquid Silk for anyone who tends to be sensitive to water-based lubes but who want the flexibility of a long-lasting lube that’s safe to use with all toys.

Sassy is a water-based gel. It was designed for anal but it’s perfect for vaginal play, too. What I like about Sassy is that it’s thick enough that it really stays where you put it, but it never does that thing where it gets clumpy or sticky (something you often see with lower-quality gels). Its thickness also makes it just a tiny bit cushy, which is particularly nice for the butt.

Sea is a water-based liquid with – you guessed it – seaweed (sort of). There are 3 kinds of seaweed/algae in Sliquid Sea: Carrageenan, Wakame, and Nori. I really find that Sea lasts longer and feels more lush than regular Sliquid H2O, so despite the similar texture, I always reach for Sea.


This post was brought to you by my Woodhull #SFS16 sponsors, Holistic Wisdom and Sliquid! All words and opinions are my own, and this post does not contain affiliate links.

  1.  Come As You Are by Emily Nagoski. Great read.

Review: Sliquid Satin

Over Christmas, Spectrum Boutique sent me a bottle of lube that I’ve been wanting to try for years now: Sliquid Satin. What makes Satin so special?

Sliquid Satin water based lubricant

What is Sliquid Satin?

Sliquid Satin is a water-based lubricant that’s formulated with aloe and vitamin e, ingredients that are known for their moisturizing properties. It’s a liquid and it’s a bit thicker than Sliquid Sea or Sliquid H2O, though not as thick as Sliquid Sassy or Sliquid Organics Gel. Like all Sliquid products, it’s formulated without parabens or glycerin, and is only slightly hypo-osmotic (but it’s incredibly close to iso-osmotic, or nearly identical to vagina secretions).1

Worried about taste and smell? Sliquid Satin has practically none, though it is slightly tangy on the tongue. You can also use Satin with any and every safe sex barrier.

In layman’s terms, Sliquid lube is fucking fantastic.

How does it perform?

I think Sliquid Satin really shines as a toy masturbation lube. It plays well with every single material, from silicone and glass to masturbation sleeves. It’s also non-irritating for a vast majority of users.2

If I’m using a toy that doesn’t have a lot of drag or texture, I only need a drop the size of a dime to get through my whole session. If I’m using something like the very draggy Comet Wand or a lube-guzzling dildo like Mustang, I might need a quarter-sized amount.

In use, Sliquid Satin feels a lot like natural vaginal lubrication. It’s not ultra-thin but it also doesn’t provide the kind of cushioning that Sassy does. As such, you can still feel a lot of texture when you’re using Satin. In theory, this makes it great for partnered PIV3 sex. In practice, I found that there were times that Sliquid Satin just didn’t come through for the whole session. If I wasn’t already producing a decent amount of natural lubrication, my vagina tended to swallow up Satin because of its hypo-osmotic nature4. Reapplication isn’t a big deal, but it does interrupt the action.

How else can I use it?

I’m glad you asked! Recently, my beautiful friend Artemisia Femmecock wrote a great piece in the Baltimore City Paper about alternative uses for lube, sex toys, and more.

Artemisia and Caitlin Murphy suggest oil-based lubes for body moisturizers, which sounds great, except that I don’t have any. Instead, I decided to try rubbing Sliquid Satin all over my legs. I woke up to surprisingly soft, smooth skin. I think Satin would make a particularly good summertime moisturizer, or for anyone who prefers something lighter and less sticky than a lotion. Allegedly, you can also use lubricants that contain aloe (hey, Satin!) in your hair if you’re going for a curly ‘do, or in your brows as a medium-hold gel.


Thank you, Spectrum Boutique, for providing me with a bottle of Sliquid Satin in exchange for an honest review! Follow them on Twitter and support their efforts to bring inclusive intimate shopping to Detroit. You can purchase Satin from Spectrum, or from one of my affiliates whose banners are displayed in the sidebar. 

  1. Hat tip to DizzyGirl of ToyMeetsGirlReviews for encouraging clarification on this point! I’m new to osmolality, and let me be honest, I sucked at chemistry.
  2.  Some people may have a negative reaction to citric acid, but as it’s an extremely common food additive, that is very rare.
  3. Penis-in-vagina.
  4. Seriously, go read the Bad Vibes lube guide, ok?

Penchant Premium Silicone Lube

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Penchant Premium Silicone Lube

Special thanks to my Aloe friend Bulbasaur for assisting with my Penchant photo shoot. You wouldn’t believe how hard it is to photograph white things, especially bottles.

What is Penchant?

Penchant is, as the full name suggests, a premium silicone lubricant. The designation of “Premium” here is two-fold: First, Penchant also makes a water-based lube called Penchant Pleasure. Second, both the performance and the packaging of Penchant are what I would consider to be indicative of a premium product.

It’s is also my new go-to silicone lube.

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you know that I am most definitely a lube person. In fact, I am The Lube Fairy. At any given time, there’s an 80% chance that there is lube within 3 feet of me. Yes, even in my purse. But I’ve never been a silicone lube person.

How does it feel?

Despite how badly I want to say, “Like buttah,” I’m going to have to go with the much more accurate description of, like the thinnest silk imaginable. It’s just slick and soft and unobtrusive. It’s very thin in consistency, but unlike a thin water-based lube, it doesn’t require reapplication.

How does it perform?

We’d used Penchant a few times for quickies, which was enough to get a feel for the lube and to appreciate how well it’s made, but wasn’t enough to really understand how well it could perform. So we put it to the test with a handful of new positions, one after another, without reapplying. Not to paint too graphic a picture, but we really went at it for as long as we reasonably could, and this stuff did not quit.

Who is Penchant for? Any caveats?

There’s really only downside to this lube: I did notice a little staining on my sheets. Not huge spots, and honestly, it doesn’t bother me. But I don’t want anyone to be unpleasantly surprised. It’s important to note, though, that I’ve never found a silicone lube that didn’t stain, so this isn’t an issue unique to Penchant.

That said, I highly recommend Penchant because it’s a fantastic lube in that it’s very versatile. It’s condom-safe; water-proof1; and because it has a pretty short ingredient list2, it may even be compatible with your silicone toys3. It’s safe to use anally or vaginally. It’s also great as a massage glide, especially for anyone who’s very sensitive to fragrances. Plus, if you run out anti-frizz serum, you can definitely use this (provided you aren’t avoiding silicones, obviously).

You can get your own bottle of Penchant Premium, or the water-based Penchant Pleasure, from!

  1. Please be careful in the shower or the bath.
  2. Dimethicone, Cyclopentasiloxane, Dimethiconol, Phenyl Trimethicone
  3. Please do a patch test on the bottom of your toy, somewhere that doesn’t come into contact with your genitals, before trying this. However, most premium silicone toys should be compatible.

The Fall Favorites Tag

If you follow me on Twitter, you might know that for the last few weeks, I’ve been back home in the United States.

But, I’m back today with the Fall Favorites Tag!


I’m going to split this tag up into categories. If you’re just plain not interested in one of them, skip to the next section. I’m efficient like that.

Fall Favorites: Sex

  1. Penchant Premium Lubricant: I was sent a bottle of this to review, and I can’t wait that long to tell you about it. It’s a “luxe silicone lubricant”, and it’s awesome for people with sensitive vaginas who want the advanced staying power that just doesn’t come from water-based lubes. Penchant comes in a functional bottle with a push-disk cap and has a really beautiful label. Like, even if I didn’t already have sex toys and lube just laying around, I wouldn’t hesitate to leave this out on my bedside table. In use, a little bit goes a long way, it lasts forever, and it doesn’t stain my sheets.
  2. Sliquid Organics Gel: While I’m still a Sliquid Sassy lover, I have to say that I’m equally impressed by their Organics Gel. I won this during a Sliquid Instagram contest, and it’s been getting a lot of play. Unlike some other gel lubricants, Sliquid Organics doesn’t clump up or provide too much cushioning. It thins out a bit as it warms to the temperature of your body, and leaves no smell, taste, or stain. EDIT: It’s come to my attention that some people (both vulva- and penis-owners) have experienced some irritation with this lube, but had luck with regular non-Organic formulations of Sliquid.

Fall Favorites: Makeup

  1. Urban Decay Naked Palette (Original): When the Naked palette first came out, my mom bought herself one; and when Naked 2 came out, I got it for Christmas. The problem? She’s cool, I’m neutral to slightly warm, so our respective palettes were actually ill-suited for our color needs. We swapped while I was home last month, and I am really loving the warm and neutral browns in this palette. Sin, Buck, and Hustle are my three favorite shades.
  2. NYX Soft Matte Lip Cream (San Paolo): Cheap, cruelty free, gorgeous color. This is a liquid to matte lipstick, which is a very popular formulation these days. It doesn’t have great staying power, but in my opinion, the ease of application, color, and buttercream frosting scent make up for it. I tried two other colors and wasn’t impressed with them, though, so trust me and stick with San Paolo.
  3. Kat Von D Ink! Liner (Trooper): This eyeliner is so easy to use and it really stays, which is a big deal for me. See, I have oily, hooded eyelids. That sounds gross, but it really just means that I often end up with eyeliner transferring from where I want it to where I definitely don’t. When it comes to ease of use, I really don’t think you can beat the felt tip pen design. The tip is fine enough to get a nice, sharp wing by starting at the tip and flicking in towards the eye. And the formula? Dries reasonably fast, is blackest black, and doesn’t smudge at all.

Fall Favorites: General Autumnal Vibes

  1. Yankee Candle Autumn in the Park: Yeah, alright, I like candles. This one in particular has nice apple and spice notes, but something keeps it from being overpowering.
  2. LUSH Rose Jam shower gel: It’s back! It’s that time of year! I still have some from last year but I don’t care! Rose Jam is my all time favorite LUSH scent. It’s a combination of rose, berry, and a warm vanilla – or at least, that’s what I get out of it. They make a bubble bar with the same fragrance year ’round, but without a tub, I’m better off enjoying it in its shower gel form.
  3. Reese’s Pumpkins: Seasonal Reese’s shapes are the best kind of Reese’s, because the ratio of peanut butter to chocolate is highest. Unfortunately, they’re also not available in Germany. But I brought back, like, 16 of them, so I think I’m good.

Fall Favorites: Entertainment

  1. Come Heather: Her reviews are both hilarious and informative, and I would like to have her over for dinner*. You can also follow her on Twitter. In fact, you should.
  2. Hannibal: Holy shit, Mads Mikkelsen. Like I needed another reason to have a thing for older gentlemen with Doctoral degrees. Let me just tell you, this series was gorgeous, enthralling, and gay as the day is long.

* But not Hannibal-style, even though that’s another Fall Favorite.



Good Clean Love Bio-Match: Balance and Restore

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When Good Clean Love contacted me about their products, I thought I was pretty well familiar already. I’d tried both their Almost Naked and Cinnamon Vanilla lubricants (both are excellent), and had been a bit disappointed by their Body Candy (couldn’t taste anything). Then I saw two new products on their website: Bio-Match Restore Moisturizing Personal Lubricant, and Bio-Match Balance Moisturizing Personal Wash, available individually or in a handy kit.

Ever the kit enthusiast, I had to try them.

Good Clean Love Bio-Match Balance

Before using Bio-Match Balance, I had never actually used a specialized “personal” or “intimate” wash before. To be honest, I had always expected personal washes to be either completely useless, or marketed with an emphasis on shame. See, I hate any product that attempts to turn my vulva into a flower shop or a candy factory, and that’s all I’d really seen on the personal wash market.

I never expected to love a vulva wash, but oh… I do. And let me tell you why.

Balance is made specifically to match the pH and salinity of the vagina and vulva. The scent of the product – provided by “soothing botanicals” – isn’t floral, fruity, or fake. I was skeptical that it wouldn’t irritate me, like so many soaps and shower gels and lubricants have, but it actually proved to be very, well, soothing. Immediately after washing, I can actually feel a difference.

Now, if you’re medically healthy and if you’re washing correctly (water or a specially-made wash only), your vagina and vulva are going to smell like what they are. If you work out, you’re going to get vulva sweat, and it’s going to smell a little pheromoney. What I like about Balance is that it doesn’t attempt to work against the natural aroma of the vagina and vulva. Instead, the goal is to keep your vagina and vulva healthy. Clearly, the people at Good Clean Love truly respect nature’s pocket.

Good Clean Love Bio-Match Restore

Which brings us to Bio-Match Restore, the moisturizing personal lubricant. By moisturizing, they mean that Restore is formulated and balanced in such a way that it doesn’t leech moisture from the vaginal walls. (Yes, that’s a thing that happens.) You can use Restore with a partner, with all sex toys, or even for daily dryness.

Sidebar: Don’t be a jerk about vaginal dryness. First of all, all kinds of modern medications can cause dryness, including hormonal birth control. Dryness does not always mean that you or your partner is unaroused. Second, stigmatizing lube usage is harmful. Lubricants exist to make sex more pleasurable, and sometimes even safer. Don’t be a jerk. Now that we’re all on the same page…

Restore is a gel lubricant that’s slightly off-clear in color, though it contains no coloring agents. It has a very light scent, which I would describe as edible-botanical. The flavor is citrusy and bright, though it’s a little surprising at first.

In use with a partner, I didn’t feel that Restore lasted any longer than my other favorite water-based lubricants, but we didn’t need to reapply. (To be fair, I do own like 20 lubricants, and I really know how to pick ’em.) What I really liked about Restore was that, while it is a gel, it didn’t provide too much cushioning. Some gels, especially when over-applied, can decrease sensation because of the thickness of the product. We didn’t experience that.

With toys, Restore performed really well. In fact, I was finally able to conquer the Tantus Splash with the help of a quarter-sized amount of this lube. It doesn’t react at all to silicone toys, and I anticipate it would provide more than enough slip for glass and metal.

Overall, I like Restore, but I don’t love it like I love it’s Bio-Match partner, Balance. If I were you, I would pick up Balance and one of Good Clean Love’s other lubricant, Cinnamon Vanilla or Almost Naked, both of which have shorter ingredient lists and contain more lube for your dollar.

Good Clean Love is a great company, and I’m really excited to see that they’re expanding their brand. All Good Clean Love products are cruelty-free and paraben-free.


Thank you, Good Clean Love, for providing me with the Bio-Match kit in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.