There are so many different topical serums and stimulating lubricants out there. What makes them different, and how do I know which one is for me?
Tucked in among our lubricants, massage oils, and cleaners resides a collection of sprays, creams, and gels designed to temporarily increase or decrease sensitivity. The desired effect and planned activities will help you determine what kind of product you're looking for. Many of these products have share active ingredients, such as peppermint, clove, and cinnamon extracts in varying concentrations- like with any products going on or inside the body, always check the ingredients for any known allergens or irritants.
Stimulating products typically come in gel or cream form and have very concentrated active ingredients. They are intended to be applied to the desired erogenous zone before the activity begins, allowing the product to absorb into the skin and begin to take effect. Massaging a pea-sized amount onto the clitoris or other erogenous zone will promote sensitivity, and can encourage the arousal process. The label will indicate what kind of sensations to expect, such as warming, tingling, cooling, or some combination thereof. On average, the sensation will last for about 20 minutes, but can vary depending on the product, the individual using it, and the amount used. These types of products can be incorporated into partnered or solo stimulation, with or without toys. While most formulas can be safely ingested in small amounts, a stimulating product that is flavoured may be preferable if there's a possibility of it getting into someone's mouth.
Stimulating lubricants typically incorporate the same active ingredients found in stimulating serums and creams, at a lower concentration. They can be used for all the kinds of play that a standard lubricant might be, and unlike the previous products, partners would both be able to experience the sensations they offer. Some people can find stimulating lubricants to be overwhelming because of the large surface area they cover- in that case you can dilute the product with a regular water-based lubricant.
On the opposite side of the spectrum there are desensitizing gels and sprays, which are intended to make the skin less sensitive. They are typically used either to delay orgasm when applied to the penis, or to make penetration easier on the receptive partner when applied to the throat or anus. Much like stimulating serums, these products can be quite strong, and are intended for localized use. The most common active ingredients are benzocaine or lidocane, which are are topical anaesthetics that are commonly found in medications like cough drops, and will numb the skin. Caution is advised when using products with numbing agents, since injury to soft tissue is possible when experiencing desensitization.
With any new sexual experience we always recommend starting low and slow, and especially with a highly concentrated product less is more. Sensitive skin formulas are also available, and ingredients lists should be reviewed to ensure that you avoid any known allergens. You won't know what product suits your needs until you try one. Don't be afraid to do your research, ask questions, and experiment (safely!)- the right product is out there!