Lube 101 Definitions

Hydroxyethylcellulose

Hydroxyethylcellulose is a derivative of cellulose and is often used as a thickening agent.  This is a great ingredient that is used in many of the more popular gel lubricants on the market.  Hydroxyethylcellulose is found in many skin and hair products as well.

Hydroxypropyltrimonium Chloride

Hydroxypropyltrimonium Chloride is a water soluble organic compound which is a derivative of guar.  Guar is also known as Cluster Beans.  Hydroxypropyltrimonium Chloride is a great skin and hair conditioning agent which is why some manufacturers put this active ingredient in to their lubricants.

Henna / Lawsonia Inermis

A plant commonly found in Africa and South Asia. For centuries, henna has been a popular folk remedy for a variety of illnesses, and henna dye is often used to create temporary tattoos.

There is evidence that henna acts as an antibacterial and anti-fungal ingredient. It may also reduce inflammation, and it is generally safe when applied to the skin. However, some people have allergies to the plant, which can cause hives, irritation, and other symptoms. Henna is not safe for internal use.

Women should not use massage oils or other products with henna when pregnant or breastfeeding.

Holy Basil / Ocimum Basilicum

A species of basil that grows in tropical areas. Holy basil has a stronger scent than sweet basil and other common versions of the herb, and there is some evidence that it is an effective anti-inflammatory. Holy basil also appears to act as a painkiller, and the essential oil of the plant may have heart-protective qualities.

Holy basil is safe, but like all basil species, it can cause mild irritation for users with skin sensitivities. People with blood clotting disorders should check with their physicians before using lubricants and massage oils with this ingredient.

Horseradish Tree

A tree found throughout tropical and subtropical regions. Its scientific name is Moringa oleifera, and it is not related to horseradish.

The oil and leaves of the horseradish tree are often used for skin care products and cosmetics. The leaves of the plant contain a large amount of vitamin C and K, and they are a popular folk remedy for joint pain. The moringa plant is also used as an aphrodisiac.

While the root of the horseradish tree is dangerous, other parts of the plant are safe to consume and to use on skin. Pregnant women should not use any products with moringa, as there is some evidence that it could cause a miscarriage.

Hydroquinone

A solid white compound used in many skin depigmentation products, including some anal bleaches. Hydroquinone whitens the skin and can cause extreme sensitivity. It is often applied topically (directly to the skin).

While hydroquinone was once considered a safe ingredient, recent studies have indicated it as a possible carcinogen. The United States Food and Drug Administration does not recommend hydroquinone as a skin lightener.

Hymen

A flexible membrane that covers part of the vaginal opening. It is thin and nearly translucent. After childbirth, a woman’s hymen will often disappear almost entirely, as the membrane does not grow back after it breaks.

Traditionally, the hymen was used as an indicator of virginity, but the hymen can tear for a number of non-sexual reasons, for instance due to vigorous exercise or disease. Likewise, the hymen may not break during sexual intercourse.

Humectant

A substance used to prevent a liquid from drying out. Humectants stop water from evaporating and can even attract water molecules from the air.

Lubricants, lotions, and cosmetics often use humectants as a fundamental part of their formulas. Without a proper balance of these substances, a lubricant can quickly take on a tacky or sticky consistency.

Some of the most popular humectants used in lubricants include propylene glycol, glycerin, aloe vera gel, and butylene glycol. These are most common in water-based lubricants; silicone and oil lubes don’t use water and can usually last for a long time without the use of humectants.

Hormone

A type of chemical that plays a role in how the body manages and regulates certain processes or activities. Hormones have a variety of functions, and they can control sexual development, growth, hunger, and mood. They play a particularly important role in sexual arousal.

The hormone most commonly associated with male sexual arousal and development is testosterone; in females, the main sexual hormones are estrogen and progesterone. As hormone production drops off after menopause, many women create less natural vaginal lubrication.

Some lubricant ingredients may affect hormone production or reception. For instance, some newer lubricants include dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), which can have a beneficial effect on sexual functionality (see DHEA for more information).