Lube 101

Slick, wet, and wonderful — lubricant is a sexual accessory that should always be kept close at hand. Lube makes all sex acts frictionless and more fun, and is absolutely essential for anal sex (since the butt is not self-lubricating). But due to the variety of lubes available today, choosing one can sometimes be daunting.

Indeed, there’s a lot to know about lube — this is only the first of many future posts about lube ingredients, uses, organic certification, etc. But these are the basics, and are definitely enough to get you up and running. Remember, finding the perfect lube for you is a personal thing. You’ll have to decide which texture, consistency, and ingredient list will best suit your needs. We have lube testers at our shop so that all lubes can be felt before purchase.

Lubes are generally classified by which ingredient they’re based on: water, silicone, oil, or a hybrid mix. Further down, we’ve compiled a list of ingredients that may cause irritation.


By far the most common base for lube is water. Water-based lubes are compatible with latex and all sex toys, and they’re easier to clean off than silicone-based lubes are. Water-based lubes vary in consistency quite a bit, from very thin (Sliquid Sea is probably our thinnest) to substantially thick. Thick water-based lubes (like Sliquid SassySliquid Organics Gel, and Almost Naked) are awesome for anal sex, as the lube provides cushioning and protection for the delicate rectal tissues.

Because water-based lubes are absorbed into the skin and can evaporate, they may dry out during use — but they can be reactivated with water, or another dollop of extra lube. Also, water-based lubes are ineffective in the shower, bath, hot tub, etc. because they wash away easily.


There are several benefits to silicone-based lube: it’s silky smooth, long-lasting, and it holds up in water. Silicone lube has a velvety texture that is very pleasurable, and it’s compatible with latex (which is why it is used in the manufacture of pre-lubricated condoms!). Silicone is not absorbed by the skin, so a little goes a long way, and it never dries out. Because of this, silicone lube is amazing for water play, and it’s a trooper during anal sex. Just be sure not to spill it — especially in the shower.

Unfortunately, silicone lubes are often incompatible with silicone sex toys. The lube may stick to the surface of the toy, making it gummy to the touch and impossible to clean. If you want to use silicone lube with a silicone toy, cover the toy with a condom first. (Some brands high-quality silicone lubes are compatible with some brands of high-quality silicone toys, but you should do a test on the base of the toy to make sure. If the lube stays slick, the two are safe to use together. If the lube bonds to the toy, do not use the two together.)

Silicone lube can only be removed with soap and water, so it’s not the best choice for quickies. It can also stain sheets, so lay down a towel first.


A few companies produce hybrid lubes. These are made with a mixture of water and silicone. Our favorite hybrid lube is Sliquid Silk. It’s vegan, and does not contain glycerin or parabens.

Another hybrid lube is Liquid Silk. Although it is labeled as “water-based,” it also contains silicone. Liquid Silk has a nice creamy texture and appearance, but does contain parabens. Many people use Liquid Silk successfully with silicone toys, but always perform a test first.


Oil-based lubes are not always so straightforward. We do not recommend that just any oil product be used as a lubricant, as oil can clog pores and disrupt the natural pH of the vagina. However, we stock an oil-based version of Yes, an organic lube from the UK that contains natural ingredients such as shea butter, almond oil, and vitamin E. Yes is entirely safe for vaginal use; it absorbs into the skin and tissue. Many of our customers use Yes and love it. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can layer the water-based version of Yes on top of the oil-based for a new lube experience.

Stroke 29, a male masturbation cream which contains glycerin and parabens, is oil-based as well.

The oil-based lubes are not compatible with latex barriers, as they will degrade them. But all the oil-based lubes we carry are good for water play and safe to use with silicone toys. Yes can also double as a fantastic massage oil.

Ingredients to watch out for

Beware of these potential irritants in your lube!

Glycerin (or glycerine, glycerol): Glycerin — a form of sugar — is what makes lubes sticky, and what makes some of them sweet. Because glycerin is a sugar alcohol, it can promote or exacerbate yeast infections in those who are prone. The majority of the lubes we carry are proudly glycerin-free, with the exceptions being Stroke 29 and Boy Butter H20.

Parabens (anything that ends with “paraben,” e.g. “methylparaben”): Parabens are a range of common, synthetic preservatives used in everything from cosmetics to packaged food. Parabens have long been considered safe, but recent studies have indicated that they may cause allergic reactions and even cancer in women. Experts found that when parabens are absorbed into the body, they mimic estrogen and can upset normal hormone production; this can contribute to the growth of tumors and cancer. Additionally, measurable amounts of various parabens have been found in biopsy samples of breast cancer tumors.

Although no study has proven a conclusive link between paraben absorption and cancer, any lube we stock that contains parabens features a warning on the product page.

L-Arginine: L-Arginine is an amino acid that may initiate a herpes outbreak in those with genital herpes. It is sometimes found in warming/stimulating lubes. We do not carry any products that contain L-Arginine. However, some stimulating lubes that we carry contain menthol and peppermint; these ingredients may cause irritation, so try a sample size first.

Propylene glycol: This ingredient is used in cosmetics as a humectant, which helps to retain moisture in the skin and prevent it from drying out. It’s also a component of antifreeze, and some lubricants. Anyone who is prone to yeast infections, or those with vulvodynia or interstitial cystitis, should be wary of propylene glycol. (The similarly-named “vegetable propylene glycol” is a different ingredient, and it is safe.)


New product round-up for April

We recently added a truckload of new items to our catalog, and we want to tell you all about them!

First, the vibrating delights: we’re now stocking the much-anticipated Jimmyjane Form 4. This vibrator is bulbous, rechargeable, powerful, and waterproof — awesome!

We have several new cock rings: a leather one and even a stainless steel ring. We’re also excited about the new Tenga Flip Air masturbation sleeve, an updated version of the uber-popular Tenga Flip Hole.

Remember how we promised to stock even more of the movies nominated for Feminist Porn Awards this year? Well, we got ’em! Feast your eyes on the feminist-approved Billy Castro Does the MissionRoulette Toronto, and My Own Master. We are also now stocking Matinee and Tristan Taormino’s Rough Sex 3: Adrianna’s Dangerous Mind.

We’ve added a ton of books to our catalog! We got some exciting parenting books: Sex and Sensibility and Always My Child. We’re also plumping up our Gender/Politics book section with some amazing and important books: Kate Bornstein’s Gender Outlaws: The Next Generation, Helen Boyd’s My Husband Betty, and S. Bear Bergman’s Butch is a Noun.

Oh, and how could I forget — Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex, which is seriously hilarious.

Believe it or not, that’s not even everything we’ve added in the past month, but I’ll spare you an even longer link barrage! Drop by the shop and ask us what’s new, or use the filter in our online store to sort items from “newest to oldest.”


Cunnilingus from a Dyke’s Mouth

Sunday, May 15th — 7:30 pm — $20

What better teacher of cunnilingus than someone who loves to give and get it? Who knows the equipment better than a woman who owns her own and loves up others’? Join queer sex educator Felice Shays as she gives you tips and tricks for muff diving. A quick tour of anatomy and then on to the how tos: from the simple to the sublime and the vanilla to the kinky.

Known for her straight talk infused with humor, Felice Shays provides personal sexual and BDSM education across the US and Canada. A recent transplant from Brooklyn, NY, Felice provides sex and BDSM counseling to individuals and couples, and has presented at a plethora of events, groups, and private functions for a decade. Felice also produces sex and BDSM parties for women and trans people.

This workshop is open to all genders who love vulva.

This class has already taken place. Thanks for attending!

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Your next vacation stop: a penis museum

Need a reason to go to Iceland? Behold: the Phallological Museum, a place where you can witness a staggering 276 penis and testicle specimens preserved in jars of formaldehyde, dried and mounted on the walls, or made into lampshades.

The museum boasts a wide array of phalluses from bears, whales, seals, walruses, and other mammals. Situated in a small fishing town, the museum draws thousands of visitors each summer and is considered integral to the region’s tourist industry.

The latest exciting news from the Phallological Museum is that they have finally acquired a human specimen from a 95-year-old man named Pall Arason. Arason was described as a “funny guy” who “liked to be in the limelight.” Naturally, the museum’s owner (who has been interested in “phallology” ever since, as a kid, he was given a whip made from a bull’s penis in order to herd cattle) is thrilled. “I have just been waiting for this guy for 15 years,” he said.

Outside of the museum is a large tree trunk carved into the shape of an erect penis. If that’s not the perfect photo opportunity, I don’t know what is.


Boudoir Burlesque with Madison Moone

Wednesday, May 18th — 7:15 pm — $15

Acclaimed Portland burlesque performer and producer Madison Moone is back to bring you Boudoir Burlesque, a burlesque movement class designed to get you in touch with your feminine wiles!

This tantalizing class begins with a brief overview of some burlesque basics such as bumps, grinds, and struts before moving into a flirty, choreographed routine. Miss Moone combines traditional burlesque moves and classic striptease with modern dance techniques. Madison will also share her trade secrets on peeling garments elegantly within the construct of a tease. Bob Fosse meets Dita Von Teese in a sultry class that is sure to give your libido a work out!

While nudity is not required, sexy costuming is! Short skirts? Yes! Lace panties? Yes! Garters? Stockings? Gloves? Yes! Yes! Yes! Please bring a sexy outfit of your choice from home including heels, panties and a bra. The sky is the limit so let your female spirit run wild! Do keep in mind that we are learning “the art of the tease”, layers are best as we will aim to remove to pieces of clothing in the routine. Not sure what to wear? Bring some wardrobe from home and Miss Moone will act as your burlesque stylist.

Beginners and adventurous spirits are highly encouraged to attend! All levels of fitness welcome, no dance experience or nudity required. Please avoid alcohol consumption before attending and arrive by 7:15pm – class will begin promptly at 7:30pm, no late entrance after 7:45pm. Also no photographs are permitted.

This class has already taken place. Thanks for attending!

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10% Tuesdays in April for Portland Women’s Crisis Line

Each Tuesday in April, 10% of our sales at She Bop will go to the Portland Women’s Crisis Line (PWCL). PWCL is a hugely important organization that offers 24/7 support to survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence. They offer services such as safety planning, peer support, crisis intervention, needs assessments, and referrals to community resources. They have specialized programs for sexual assault and sex workers. PWCL is an invaluable asset to our community, and we are honored to be able to give back to them for the tireless work that they do.

April is also Sexual Assault Awareness Month. According to RAINN, someone in the U.S. is sexually assaulted every 2 minutes. This unfortunate statistic is a reality for 1 out of every 6 American women. Here are a few resources for thinking about and combating sexual assault.

We also carry the book Healing Sex and its DVD counterpart, which are meant to help survivors of sexual trauma reclaim their sex lives.


Nominees for the 2011 Feminist Porn Awards

We love the Feminist Porn Awards! Since 2006, they have been honoring and celebrating woman-positive porn. This year’s awards show and other festivities will be held April 13-15 in Toronto. The nominees for this year (of which there are 50+!) were recently announced. Any film chosen for the awards must meet certain standards: either that a woman was involved in the production of the film, that the film depicts “genuine pleasure and consent,” and/or that the film “expands the boundaries of sexual representation on film.” The Feminist Porn Awards (FPAs) are known for their awesome nomination categories, such as “Most Deliciously Diverse Cast” and “Hottest Trans Scene/Film.”

Here are four films nominated this year that we carry at She Bop! We plan to pick up more titles that were nominated in the coming months.

Tristan Taormino’s Expert Guide to Female Orgasms. Tristan Taormino is the queen of making education hot. In this film, she examines what it takes to get a woman off, then shows the techniques in action. Taormino’s other educational titles, such as Tristan Taormino’s Expert Guide to Oral Sex: Cunnilingus/Fellatio and Tristan Taormino’s Expert Guide to Anal Pleasure for Men, have also won FPAs in the past.

Life Love Lust. It’s no wonder this film by Erika Lust was nominated — her previous film, Five Hot Stories For Her, won “Movie of the Year” at the FPAs in 2008. Lust’s distinct filmmaking style focuses on nuance, romance, and authentic sex.

Crash Pad Series Volume 6. This is the sixth installment in a historic queer porn series by director Shine Louise Houston (named “The Visionary” at the 2010 FPAs). As always, this film features a vast array of queer-identified performers having the time of their lives together. Check out all the other movies in the Crash Pad series — many of which have won FPAs.

Rough Sex 2. This movie is why Tristan Taormino was named “The Trailblazer” at the 2010 FPAs. Her Rough Sex series takes female porn performers, asks them about their rough sex fantasies, and brings those fantasies to life. It’s a wonderful marriage of feminism and BDSM.

We also proudly stock movies that have won FPAs in the past, such as Caribbean Heat, Xana and Dax, The Wild SearchChampion (“Movie of the Year” in 2009), and Dangerous Curves.

Thank you, Feminist Porn Awards, for reminding the world that feminist porn not only exists — it deserves to be applauded.


The lowdown on kegel exercises

Of all the muscles that comprise the pelvic floor, the pubococcygeus muscles are probably the most famous. The pubococcygeus muscles (more well-known as the PC muscles) run from the pubic bone to the tailbone, and form a sort of figure eight around the genitals. All people have PC muscles, and these muscles are instrumental in sexual response — in fact, they involuntarily contract during orgasm, and help to propel ejaculate.

In the forties, a gynecologist named Dr. Arnold Kegel developed the idea of exercising the PC muscles, and the concept of kegel exercises was born. Although Kegel was primarily focused on treating urinary incontinence, one of his papers did mention off-handedly that “sexual appreciation can be increased by restoring function of the pubococcygeus.” Indeed, kegel exercises are now largely associated with sexuality, and for good reason — doing them regularly has many sexual benefits.

Kegel exercise generally consists of voluntarily and repetitively contracting and relaxing the PC muscles. Many associate kegel exercise with a tighter vagina, but that is just one perk of toned PC muscles. Regular kegel exercise can have a variety of pleasurable effects, such as heightened sexual sensitivity, stronger orgasms, and greater response to G-spot stimulation. The more the PC muscles are toned, the more they can relax, so kegels are great for those wanting to have anal sex, or for anyone experiencing difficulty with penetration. With kegel practice and repetition, some vagina owners can even learn to ejaculate/squirt.

For people with penises, toned PC muscles can result in improved ejaculatory control, somewhat firmer erections, and a shorter refractory period (the span of time between ejaculations).

Kegel excercises can be extremely helpful during pregnancy and after birth as well. Kegels are well-known for facilitating excellent bladder control, so they can ease problems with urinary incontinence. Strengthened PC muscles can also prepare the pelvic floor for childbirth, and may help prevent tearing and episiotomy. After birth, regular exercise of the PC muscles can accelerate postpartum healing, restoring tightness and muscle tone in the vagina.

Finding ’em and toning ’em

Locate your PC muscles by pretending that you are peeing and want to stop the flow of urine. The muscles that you contract are your PC muscles. To further increase your awareness of your PC muscles, you may want to insert two fingers into your vagina, squeeze with your PC muscles, then relax. Keep in mind that the relaxation motion is just as important as the tightening.

Here are some examples of simple kegel exercises. These can be done anywhere, in any position, during any activity you wish. Some people may prefer to do them while masturbating, watching porn, reading erotica, etc., but they can also be executed just as effectively while standing in line at the bank, at the computer checking Facebook, or in your car at a stoplight.

  • Inhale and imagine that you are sucking water up into your vagina and anus. Hold it there for a moment, then exhale and bear down, pushing the imaginary water out.
  • Contract and release your PC muscles several times in a row, each time gradually increasing how tightly you squeeze.
  • Inhale, then quickly squeeze and release your PC muscles 5-10 times before exhaling.
  • If you’d like to work the back part of the PC muscle loop specifically, contract and release your anus. Repeat this five times, taking care to only squeeze your anus — not your butt, thighs, or abs. The relaxation portion of this exercise is vital, so take your time releasing between squeezes.

With some time and repetition of these exercises, your PC muscles will be strengthened and toned nicely. If you’d like to go a step further in exercising your kegels, we have just the thing for you: sex toys!

Toys, toys, toys… in the vagina

Some people enjoy incorporating sex toys into their kegel exercises because toys provide a form of resistance. At She Bop, we carry a few types of kegel exercisers. One type consists of a small ball or two that can be inserted into the vagina and held in place (the AmiLuna Beads, Smartballs Teneo Duo and Smartballs Teneo Uno fall into this category). For traditional kegel exercises, lube up the balls and insert one or both into your vagina. While grasping the toy with your PC muscles, gently tug on the retrieval string. The resistance provided by the tugging will enhance the exercise.

However, these balls really beg to be worn discreetly. Once inserted comfortably in the vagina, they can be left there as you go about your day. Each ball contains a smaller inner ball that will roll around and lightly vibrate as you move around (and don’t worry, nobody will hear them!). You can also squeeze your PC muscles around these balls when they are inside you — if you squeeze tightly enough, you just might feel the inner balls shiver in response.

Another type of kegel excercisor is simply a weighted dildo. Some toys — like the Energie, which weighs a pound — are made specifically for toning kegels. Others — like the aircraft-grade aluminum Classic Aluminum or stainless steel njoy Fun Wand — are made of weighty materials that are ideal for kegels. After the toy is inserted vaginally, the action of squeezing/releasing the toy exercises the PC muscles. Start with the larger end of the toy and work your way up to the more difficult smaller end. You can use the same exercise techniques detailed above with these toys.


Full-Bodied Fellatio

Thursday, April 21st — 7:30pm — $20

What do you do when your partner lacks blowjob skills? Where do you go for training when you wish to improve your own? Here!

M. Makael Newby is a relationship coach and dance instructor with a particular skill for breaking physical action into components and teaching them with enthusiasm… and blowjobs are one of her favorite things. This class will educate both the givers and receivers. Come learn about creating anticipation, communication, preparing for success, hand skills, tongue tricks, prostate massage, deep throating, sloppy BJs, choking and forced gagging for both bio and strap-on penises. Live demo (on dildo) included.

Many of these techniques are included in My Erotic Adventure, her choose-your-own styled erotic novel, now available at She Bop. Get empowered to give and receive extraordinary head!

This class has already taken place. Thanks for attending!


Mom’s Sex Diary: Your Pregnancy to Their Puberty

How Raising Kids Changes Your Sex Life… and Foretells Theirs

Saturday, April 30th — 7pm — $25

Susie Bright opens up the sexual revolution of parenthood, from when you first become pregnant, to the baby and little kid years — and finally, the real marathon: kids reaching puberty and you hitting menopause.

What’s a sex-positive mom to do? There’s your own life as a lover and a mother, and then there’s seeing your children develop their own sexual perceptions and values.

Yes, this IS the place to talk about things you won’t hear on Oprah! There’s physical and practical information to share, and emotional and ethical questions that can’t be ignored. What are the most important things you can do, as a parent, to give your children sexual sanity? How do you nurture and enjoy your own mojo as the years go by? Come with your questions— Susie has plenty more, plus some answers you won’t hear anyplace else.

Susie Bright is the author of the national bestsellers Full Exposure and The Sexual State of the Union, as well as The Best American Erotica and Herotica series, which ushered in women’s erotic publishing. She is the host of Audible’s In Bed With Susie Bright, the longest-running sex-ed show in the history of broadcasting. She was co-founder and editor of On Our Backs magazine, and was the first journalist to cover erotic cinema and the porn business in the mainstream press. A progenitor of the sex-positive movement, Bright taught the first university course on pornography, and brought lasting sexual influence to her role in films like Bound and The Celluloid Closet, as well as playing herself, “the famous feminist sex writer,” on Six Feet Under.

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Welcome to She Bop’s blog!

She Bop is a women-owned sex toy boutique specializing in body safe products and education. Our mission is to promote healthy and safe sexuality by offering quality products and educational workshops in a fun and comfortable environment. She Bop welcomes people of all genders and sexual orientations.

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