When people say “it’s what’s inside that counts” they usually aren’t talking about sex lube. But they should be — because while having a big heart and an awesome personality are great, we can all agree that choosing a personal lubricant that won’t give you “crotch burn” is pretty important too.
That’s one of the reasons why we share all of Astroglide’s ingredients on our product page (and on the products themselves, of course). But while our chemists and researchers can wax poetic about all of the amazing properties of each compound included in our lubes, we realize the average lube user might have questions about our ingredients, why they’re included in our different lubricant formulas, and what exactly these ingredients “do.” In fact, there are three lube ingredients we’re asked about more than any others, so we thought it’d be a good idea to talk about them!
Glycerin is a naturally-occurring compound that’s extracted from plants. It can come in many forms, including nitroglycerin which is used in dynamite (don’t worry — that’s not the form we use as a lube ingredient!)
Glycerin is a humectant which means it can seal in moisture and helps stop products like facial cleansers and skin lotions from drying out or irritating skin. That’s one of the reasons glycerin is such a common ingredient in vaginal lubricants — it allows lubes to stay wet. Glycerin also helps create the slippery feel of lube and acts as a sort of cushion to reduce friction during sex.
We’ve received some concerned feedback from lube users who are afraid that glycerin will give them yeast infections. We understand why — glycerin is often sweet-tasting and is mistaken for a sugar. Yeast feeds on sugar, so it would follow that glycerin can cause an overgrowth of yeast, right?
The truth is, glycerin isn’t a sugar — it’s a sugar alcohol. Yeast and bacteria don’t feed on sugar alcohols, including glycerin. Glycerin can be converted to sugar by the body, but only through digestion — not when it’s simply applied in lube form.
In fact, when it comes to avoiding yeast infections, it’s better to apply a personal lubricant containing glycerin than it is to use saliva — some studies have linked saliva with an increase in yeast infections.
This lube ingredient is actually very similar to glycerin in many ways. For one, propylene glycol is also plant-based and a humectant, which allows it to draw in and seal in moisture. These features help propylene glycol to keep lubricants wetter longer while also adding a slippery feel and cushion (a kind of buffer zone that reduces friction).
Propylene glycol is also used in many food products including coffee drinks, ice cream and whipped cream and soda. “The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has classified propylene glycol as ‘generally recognized as safe,’ which means that it is acceptable for use in flavorings, drugs, and cosmetics, and as a direct food additive.”
The substance is also safe for skin — in fact, it is often prescribed by doctors to treat rashes and even skin irritation caused by radiation treatments. However, a very small percentage of people may experience skin irritation when using products that contain propylene glycol. If you feel discomfort that you think may be linked to your lube or any other product you’ve applied to your skin, we recommend you discontinue use and consult your family doctor or dermatologist.
Parabens are some of the most widely used preservatives found in food and cosmetics. They’re used to kill bacteria, yeast and mold (and you can imagine why it’s important to keep those kinds of organisms out of your personal lubricant!).
Do parabens cause cancer? That’s a question people sometimes ask. This myth became popularized in 2004 after a study found parabens in samples of cancerous breast tissue. However, according to the American Cancer Society:
The researchers looked only for the presence of parabens in breast cancer samples. The study did not show that parabens caused or contributed to breast cancer development in these cases – it only showed that they were there. What this meant is not yet clear [...] studies have not shown any direct link between parabens and any health problems, including breast cancer.
The FDA also released this statement: “The Cosmetic Ingredient Review (CIR) reviewed the safety of methylparaben, propylparaben, and butylparaben in 1984 and concluded they were safe for use in cosmetic products at levels up to 25%. Typically parabens are used at levels ranging from 0.01 to 0.3%.”
The FDA has also said, “at the present time there is no reason for consumers to be concerned about the use of cosmetics containing parabens.”
Astroglide lubricants are all developed and tested in our U.S. lab so we can ensure safety and quality. Remember, glycerin, propylene glycol and parabens aren’t our only lube ingredients. You can check out full lists of ingredients for each Astroglide formula on our product page. Have a question about one of our ingredients? Contact us or tweet your question to @Astroglide — we’d be happy to help!