For years, Eloise O’Sullivan worked behind the counter at her dad’s store: Condom Kingdom. “Because of the nature of the family business, talking about sex has never been taboo for me,” explains O’Sullivan, who speaks candidly about vulvas, orgasms and sex toys. “At the shop, I saw women my age come in and get so uncomfortable and embarrassed about buying things.”
Determined to stamp out the stigma associated with female pleasure, O’Sullivan, 24, teamed up with her friend Eloise McCullough, 26, a year ago to create a sexual wellness business that has since evolved into FIGR Fluid personal lubricant.
“There’s still shame attached to using lube because people associate it with getting old and dry down there. That’s not the case; everyone should be using lube,” says McCullough. “At FIGR, we’re on a mission to give women the power when it comes to lube, instead of depending on men and having to resort to using shower gel in times of desperation (which never ends well, trust me).”
Standing in the “personal care” aisle of their local supermarket in Melbourne staring at the single shelf of lubricants – all with complicated lists of ingredients and hypersexualised packaging targeted at blokes – O’Sullivan and McCullough saw a hole in the market and set out to fill it (pun intended). “Our lube is made by women, for women and their vulvas,” they say.
If your (strawberry-flavoured/glow-in-the-dark/tingling-sensation) lube was purchased circa 2010 from a servo and is currently collecting dust in the bottom drawer of your bedside table, this article is for you.
REASONS TO INVEST IN GOOD QUALITY LUBE
#1 FRICTION BE GONE
Okay, so maybe this is an “expected” health benefit, but using lube during sex means less friction, which ultimately means more fun. According to Rachel Baker, the founder of sexual wellness space LBDO, “Wetter is better.”
“Reaching for the lubricant doesn’t have to mean that you’re not aroused or even that there’s something wrong with you – it’s really just to make things more pleasurable and less likely to do any harm,” she says. “Don’t be afraid to invest in a high-quality lubricant as it can optimise comfort and make sex more pleasurable, ultimately enhancing any intimate moment with yourself or your partner.”
The “unexpected” health benefit of less friction is safer sex. Lube reduces the risk of infections and unplanned pregnancies by limiting the friction of condoms and – subsequently – the chances of breaks and tears.
#2 SUPERIOR INGREDIENTS
Not all lube is made equally. The majority of supermarket-stocked lubricants are full of cheap, foreign ingredients that don’t belong near your vulva, let alone inside of it. “When it comes to sexual wellness, I always advocate for a natural approach and choose lubricants that are glycerin-free, alcohol-free and free of petrochemicals,” says Baker. “Be mindful that the lubricant you use doesn’t irritate the vaginal tissues or negatively impact the healthy bacteria and pH levels by opting for a lubricant with a pH level of around 3.8-4.5, the same as the vaginal pH.”
The FIGR Fluid is made with native extracts including finger lime extract, which is high in Vitamin C and is known to increase immunity to infections and bacteria, encourage the production of collagen and stabilise estrogen levels. “Our lube is also water-based and has been formulated to mimic naturally occurring lubrication with a healthy pH balance of 4.2,” explains McCullough, adding that the product is latex friendly, silicon toy safe, fragrance-free and doesn’t get all sticky.
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#3 LESS RISK
Speaking from personal experience, O’Sullivan says lubricants containing glycerin are hotbeds for infections. “I get yeast infections like there’s no tomorrow,” she admits. “So, when anything foreign like glycerin goes near my vulva, I pay for it dearly. I’m very happy to report that our lube hasn’t given me a yeast infection.”
Much like skincare, oysters and Scottish kilts, au naturel is the way to go when it comes to lube, says Baker: “A natural, paraben-free, fragrance-free, water-based lubricant is more likely to support delicate pH levels and prevent odour-causing bacteria, making them a much safer option.”
#4 MORE SEX
It’s a law of nature: if you have a cute new activewear set, you’ll want to exercise more. The same goes for lube. If you have a fancy new product, you’ll want to shag more. With its minimal design and chic branding, FIGR Fluid belongs on your bedside table, not hidden in a sock drawer. Once you’ve tested it out, you’ll want to keep testing it out, and we all know having sex is like doing a cardio class, so it counts towards your 30-minutes a day.
That’s it. That’s the reason.
THE THREE BASES OF LUBE
Rachel Baker of LBDO unpacks the three different types of lube…
When choosing which lube is the right one for you, it’s important to remember what sort of sexual experience it will be used for, as they each bring something different to the table (or bedroom).
Water based lube makes a great entry level product as its versatility means it can be used for almost all sexual acts and is compatible with sex toys and latex condoms. Whilst it’s not as long lasting as other varieties, it’s easy to clean and won’t stain sheets or clothes.
Silicone based lubricants have greater lubricity than water-based lubricant and are silky soft and slippery which make for a great option when engaging in sexual acts such as anal play, or where you want your lubricant to last longer. Just be mindful that it can’t be used with silicone toys as it can break down the silicone.
Oil based lubricants are also long lasting and can double up as a massage oil but have been associated with an increased risk of infection. They can also degrade latex so should be avoided when using condoms.
Hero image credit: Charlotte O’Sullivan