Lube 101 Definitions

TPE

Stands for thermoplastic elastomer, a material commonly used for sex toys.

TPE is soft and can feel similar to skin. It is hypoallergenic, phtalate-free, non-toxic, and waterproof. The material is compatible with water-based lubricants, although silicone and oil lubricants can cause damage. TPE can be cleaned with specialized antibacterial toy cleaners or with a mild non-oil-based soap.

Because TPE is porous, it is important to use a condom when sharing toys made from this material in order to prevent the spread of STDs.

Tween 20 / Polysorbate 20

A synthetic substance used in many cosmetics and skin products as an emulsifier. Polysorbate 20 helps to spread the cool, tingling feeling of peppermint, menthol, and other mint oils, and it is completely safe for both topical use and consumption.

Thymus Vulgari (Thyme)

A popular culinary herb in the mint family. Apart from its common use as a food flavoring agent, thyme appears to have antibacterial and antifungal properties. It is used in some skin care products for this purpose.

Thyme is a safe substance in topical preparations.

Talc

A natural mineral commonly used as a fine powder, popularly known as talcum powder. Talc is an effective dry lubricant, and it is sometimes used for personal hygiene; it is an especially popular ingredient in baby powder, foot powder, and cosmetics.

When commercially produced, talc is generally considered safe. Some studies suggest that the mineral could cause certain cancers, especially ovarian cancer. While those studies are not widely accepted, some people avoid talc for this reason.

People with sensitive skin may choose to avoid products with talc, as the substance can cause mild irritation in some circumstances.

Tricalcium phosphate

An anti-caking compound commonly found in skincare products including many baby powders. It can absorb standing moisture, protecting the skin from rashes and chafing.

While tricalcium phosphate is sometimes derived from rocks, it can also come from animal bones. As such, it is not always a vegetarian-friendly ingredient. It is non-flammable and safe for regular use.

Trichomoniasis

A common vaginal disease caused by Trichomonas vaginalis, a single-celled parasite.

Trichomoniasis is a type of vaginitis, and symptoms can include itching, burning, unpleasant odors, and discharge. Yeast infections and bacterial vaginosis cause similar symptoms, and a physician needs to confirm the cause of vaginal diseases before providing treatment. Most infections are curable with a round of antibiotics.

Both men and women can contract the parasite that causes trichomoniasis, but most men will not report symptoms. Because trichomoniasis is a sexually transmitted infection, if a woman is sexually active, her partners will also need to undergo treatment.

Latex condoms can help to prevent the spread of trichomoniasis.

Tannic Acid

Tannic acid is a bitter compound commonly used to protect and heal skin. Natural tannic acid is found in the bark of the oak tree and in the nutgalls of certain insects. Most sexual enhancement products use a vegetable-derived (and vegan-friendly) form of tannic acid.

Tannic acid may promote skin healing, and it has been used for decades to treat burns, rashes, and irritation. It can also have a contracting effect on the skin, and in a concentrated form, it can desensitize sensitive sensitive tissues. For this reason, it is sometimes used as a natural alternative to benzocaine, lidocaine, and other desensitizing ingredients in male enhancement sprays.

While tannic acid is safe in lubes and sex products, it should not be applied to broken skin.

Tribehenin

A skin conditioning agent often used to thicken lubricants and cosmetics. It is composed of glycerin and behenic acid, which is a natural fatty acid derived from plants.

Tribehenin is considered safe and non-toxic. It does not appear to accumulate in the body, allergies are extremely rare, and it does not increase users’ chances of developing yeast infections or other conditions. However, people with glycerin allergies should avoid products with tribehenin.

Turnera Diffusa (Damiana)

A shrub found throughout the Americas. Some sexual enhancement lubricants use an extract from the leaves of damiana as an active ingredient. It is sometimes listed as damiana, tumera aphrodisiaca extract, or passifloraceae (the plant family’s name).

Damiana is traditionally used as a treatment for low sex drive. It has been shown to inhibit anxiety, and animal tests support the assertion that damiana is an effective sexual enhancement substance. Because of its relaxant effects, the damiana plant is illegal in the United States, but the plant’s extracts are legal in some circumstances.