Our experts agree that water- and silicone-based lubricants are the best options for rubber and non-latex condoms. “You always want to go with silicone or water-based lube with polyisoprene condoms,” says Stewart.
Still, it’s a resounding no for oils, says Jenni Skyler, Ph.D., LMFT, CST, sexologist and director of The Intimacy Institute for Sex & Relationship Therapy. There are conflicting reports about whether non-latex condoms can contain oil, she notes. For latex condoms, research shows that just 60 seconds of exposure to oil can degrade the quality of the latex, so it is more likely to tear during sex. Because polyisoprene and latex are chemically similar, these non-latex condoms can also experience latex erosion from mineral, coconut, or olive oils. “I prefer to stay away from oil-based lubricants with none condoms,” she says.
However, there may be at least a few exceptions to that rule.
Polyurethane condoms are made from plastic materials, so your favorite oil-based lubricant probably won’t corrode them. Howard and Stewart say that lambskin condoms are also good to use with oil-based lubricants. Also known as natural membrane condoms, lambskin condoms are made from the intestines of a lamb, Howard explains, so it’s biological material. “If anything,” he says, “the oil would only moisten a lambskin condom.”
If you’re ever unsure, check the condom manufacturer’s instructions or website. Or take Skyler’s advice and err on the side of caution: avoid oil-based lubes and stick to water- or silicone-based options.