• Lube 101 Definitions

    Sodium Saccharin

    Sodium Saccharin is an artificial sweetener used in many popular lubricants as well as in many other industries. There is some data that says these can lead to yeast infections for those who are already prone to them, and some people can have an allergic reaction. But it’s present in other foods, like canned fruit, diet sodas, and candy, so if you haven’t had an allergic reaction to these foods before, you’re probably safe to ingest it. Just keep it away from any sensitive mucous membranes if you’re prone to yeast.

    Shibari Ropes

    A type of bondage rope. The word “shibari” means “to tie” in Japanese, and the term is thought to derive from hojōjutsu, a punishment technique used on Samurai prisoners beginning in the 15th century. Shibari ropes became popular in erotic play sometime in the 1800s or early 1900s.

    Many practitioners of shibari create complex and artistic patterns with ropes to hold the submissive partner in place, but simple ties and knots are also popular. Complex rope arrangements may provide an added aesthetic stimulus for both partners. Shibari ropes are typically very soft and comfortable for the submissive, and a variety of materials are used for different effects.

    Safe Words

    A word used during role play and BDSM to immediately end the activity.

    By choosing a safe word, the submissive partner is able to take on his or her role completely, saying words like “no” or “stop” without actually compelling the dominant partner to stop. Safe words are often unusual words or phrases, as this allows for an unambiguous signal – the safe word isn’t likely to come up naturally, so when the dominant partner hears it, he or she knows to stop.


    In BDSM play, the partner who submits to punishment or domination. This can take the form of bondage, whipping, spanking, or a number of other actions. The submissive person is sometimes referred to as a “bottom.”

    A submissive person will usually define his or her limits prior to sex. This ensures that the dominant partner (sometimes called the “top” or “dom”) will not take actions that cause injury or discomfort for the submissive. BDSM couples often use safe words to establish clear boundaries.


    Typically refers to two muscles located in the anus (although the term “sphincter” can refer to any circular muscle), the internal anal sphincter and external anal sphincter.

    The external anal sphincter can be voluntarily controlled, and in order to engage in penetrative anal play, individuals need to relax and expand this muscle. Some toys are designed to strengthen the external sphincter, and some desensitizing lubricants are designed to numb the muscle in order to allow for easier relaxation and penetration. The internal anal sphincter cannot be voluntarily controlled.

    Swedish Flower

    An extract prepared from the pollen of various Swedish flowers, often including plants from the Passiflora genus (passion flowers).

    The extract is said to reduce the size of the prostate, restoring sexual function in older men with enlarged prostates. Some supplement manufacturers also claim that Swedish flower pollen has antioxidant and cholesterol-lowering effects.

    Several clinical studies have supported these benefits in specific preparations, although it is important to note that manufacturers may use different types of pollen sources when preparing their products.


    Stands for “sun protection factor,” a measurement used to determine how much protection a product offers against UV radiation. Sunscreens and some cosmetic products typically list their SPF rating on the their packaging.

    Contrary to popular belief, SPF does not directly show the amount of time that a product will allow a person to stay in the sun without taking skin damage; for example, SPF 30 does not mean that the wearer can stay in the sun for 30 hours. SPF refers specifically to UV radiation, and because skin tone and other factors can affect a person’s chances of skin damage, it is important to understand SPF labeling in order to limit chances of sunburns.


    A general name for a variety of aquatic algae. Seaweed is sometimes used in lubricants, massage liquids, and cosmetics for its apparent skin-friendly qualities.

    Red algae (carrageenan) and brown algae (Phaeophyceae) may have anti-inflammatory properties, and both contain fairly significant amounts of antioxidants. This may promote immune system function. Products with seaweed can soften and moisturize the skin; seaweed wraps are a popular option at spas for this reason.

    While side effects can vary depending on the algae species and preparation, seaweed skin products are generally very safe, especially when prepared with natural sources.

    See “carrageenan” for more information on red algae.

    Saw Palmetto

    The fruit of the serenoa plant, often used as an herbal treatment for a variety of urinary conditions including benign prostate hyperplasia (also known as BPH, an enlargement of the prostate common in older men).

    However, clinical trials indicate that saw palmetto is probably no more effective at treating BPH than a placebo. The fruit’s extract may contain enzymes that affect the body’s ability to process sex hormones, including testosterone, but there is currently limited research for this use. As saw palmetto extract also includes phytosterols, a type of plant steroid compound, it may lower cholesterol levels when taken regularly.

    As a supplement, saw palmetto is considered safe. The most common side effects include upset stomach and other mild gastrointestinal issues.


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    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.

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