Lubricant is a substance, typically fluid, that is used to reduce friction during sexual activity. Water-based lubricants are specifically those fluids or gels that are made from a base of water and typically a cellulose or glycerin solution. A water-based lubricant is water soluble and can therefore be fairly easily washed off. The earliest and still most prevalent forms of personal lubricants are water-based, though newer forms of oil-based and natural lubricants have come onto the market.
Because they are water-based, such lubricants can have a tendency to dry out during use. This can be remedied to some extent by applying more of the lubricant or by applying a small amount of water to the area. A water-based lubricant will dry on its own and be absorbed into the skin or dissolve after use, leaving only the residue of the other ingredients. Because a water-based lubricant can dry out it is usually best to reapply during use to prevent a buildup of friction that can cause injury such as blistering or skin irritation.
When a water-based lubricant dries on the skin, it can lead to stickiness or tackiness in the area, as sugar or glycerin remains after the water disappears. To avoid such unpleasantness, manufacturers have begun using moisturizers in the water-based lubricants they produce. These moisturizers tend to leave the area of use free from such unpleasant residue and help encourage healthy skin.
Because water-based lubricants are water soluble they are not good for use during any sexual activity that occurs in water, such as a pool, shower or bath. The lubricant will dissolve in the water and disperse, and water alone may not provide enough lubrication to prevent friction and irritation. There are other lubricants such as oil-based or silicone-based lubricants that are preferable for use when in water, though there are other drawbacks and restrictions for effective use of those products. Any user should read the label of any product he or she is going to use before use to ensure proper safety precautions and personal care are observed.
Though water-based lubricant is typically nontoxic, especially in small amounts, it should not be ingested and typically has a bad taste and smell due to the chemicals used. While some lubricants can contain spermicidal ingredients to help aid birth control, typically no lubricant alone is sufficient to prevent pregnancy. Lubricants also do not tend to help prevent the spread of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and should be used in conjunction with other safe sex practices.