I recently saw a guy friend masturbating with lotion instead of lube and was wondering if lube would be a better alternative for him. If so, could you explain why?
— A Little Help for My Masturbating Friends
One of my favorite conversations to strike up with my penis-equipped friends is: What ever did you do with your penis during your sexual exploration period? If I had had a penis during my teenaged sexual development ages, I’m sure I would’ve done so many ridiculous things with it in the name of sexual pleasure exploration. As it turns out, most of my penis-having friends did just that. I mean, an outy sexual organ that’s socially bolstered to boot? It just screams WHAT ELSE CAN I MASTURBATE WITH?
I’m not the only one who wonders about this. (And speaking of wondering, what exactly were you doing, Little Help, when you apparently just happened to see “a guy friend masturbating with lotion?” Also, kudos to you for having the where-with-all in that moment to hone in on the fact that he was using lotion?)
Anyway, my personal death-by-curiosity aside, here’s what a dude sex columnist for the LA Weekly advised in his creative penile masturbation piece: “Select a jar and fill it with stewed tomatoes, Spaghetti O’s, mac-n-cheese, cottage cheese, oatmeal or peanut butter. Cover the top with plastic wrap and a rubber band, cut a hole and you’re ready to go.”
My assumption is that if you can get down with Chef Boyardee, a little Aveeno is the least of your problems, but let’s make sure.
People have been slicking down their self-lovin’ with whatever they can get their dominant hand on forever. According to Scarleteen.com, the Vaseline brand of lotion was released in the 1870s as a “healing ointment.” Five years later, Vaseline noticed a significant spike in profits when people found out that this “healing” was of the Marvin Gaye persuasion.
In the early 1900s, Johnson & Johnson released the premier K-Y jelly product. It was intended for medical uses only and — fun fact! — the reason why K-Y dries up so damn fast is because it was intended to lube patients up for quick medical procedures. It took 80 long years for Johnson & Johnson to finally cave into their accidental consumer base and make sexual lubricants. K-Y is now (regrettably so) one of the biggest lube brands. (For more information about why I’m anti-KY, check out past column, “Life Beyond KY: The wide wet world of Lube.”)
Just because lotion isn’t lube, doesn’t mean it’s unsafe for your friend to jerk off with it. When it comes to penises, what’s good for the goose is good for the gander. Here, the goose is the skin on the inside of your arm and the gander is your peen. Meaning, the penis is made of external skin, just like our inner arm skin. So, what’s fine on one is usually fine on the other. The exception to this rule is that pesky urethra which is easily irritated — yikes! UTIs!
Good household item choices for your friend include: saliva, Vaseline, Crisco, butter, body lotion, olive oil, baby oil, and, apparently according to LA Weekly, a variety of canned and instant pantry items, which I am just not fully prepared to personally endorse.
Bad choices of household items include: shaving cream, shampoo, conditioner, soap, and other “this-is-for-cleaning-you” things which, have ingredients that can cause burning and other issues in the urethra.
Vulva-owners however, need to be pickier — much pickier. Our sexual organs are innies, not outies. Meaning we don’t get to stick canned ravioli up our hoo-has and call it a fun, experimental day. The vaginal canal is made of porous internal tissues so women should stick to specifically sexual lubricants and, in particular, lubes that are glycerin-free. Same goes for the anus — sexual lubricants are best. More about what’s safe to put up your butt can be found on my website, yanatallonhicks.com.
You could upgrade your friend’s alone time with a specifically-designed masturbation cream like Boy Butter H2O or Swiss Navy Premium Masturbation Cream. These are not vagina-friendly or booty-safe, and are rarely latex-compatible so check the packaging. All being said, Little Help, your masturbating mate is safe to continue with his lotion and you are free to mind your own beeswax … hmm, I wonder if you can jerk off with that.
Yana Tallon-Hicks is a pleasure-positive sex writer and educator living in the Pioneer Valley. She has a website bursting with sex advice, resources, and workshops at yanatallonhicks.com.