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The History of Lube

While modern society may still keep sex products low key, our ancestors knew what they were doing. 




600 BC: Ancient China saw the first recorded creation of personal lubricant. Red seaweed was boiled into a thick, water-based substance called Carrageenan. Not only was this a superbly slippery success, it also proved to reduce the transmission of HPV.



350 BC: As Aristotle says, “sex is good but sex with lube is great.” Okay, maybe Aristotle didn’t say that. But one of the earliest known personal lubricants dates back to the ancient Greeks and Romans, where they discovered an innovative use for olive oil. As big fans of anal sex, there was impetus for creative solutions. 


1600s: If Gwyneth Paltro was in Edo period Japan, she would make sure you knew about mashed yams. While the Chinese were creating vegetable oils to be used with animal intestine condoms, the Japanese favoured a yam-filled formula called tororo-jiru to provide lubrication. Clove oil was also used and remains to be a popular ingredient in today’s mixtures. 


1700s: The ever-accessible, free lubricant of saliva was referenced in a collection of Chinese jokes from the 18th century. In one joke, two monks discuss having sex “vegetarian style,” or without any spit. New fantasy unlocked. 



1800s: Although it was not created for this purpose, Robert Chesebrough’s invention of petroleum jelly, also known as Vaseline, kickstarted the lube revolution. Further exploring the public’s chosen use, Frederic Kipping’s innovated polymer silicone — making one of the largest scientific contributions to manufacturing industries and modern lubricant.



1900s: In 1904, KY Jelly was sold as surgical aid, but was quickly repurposed by consumers for sex. Thirteen years later, the company officially introduced the product as a personal lubricant. It’s been critiqued for its adverse effect on sperm and fertility and many of its products have been pulled off the shelves. 


1990s: Lubricants became available in some drugstores in America and Europe, but were seen as medical products. It was only until the mid-90s that mainstream culture began adopting it for pleasure, with cream lubricant gaining popularity. 



Today: The three most popular lubricants of today are oil, water and silicone. Playmate is an all natural water-based lubricant designed to mimic the body’s moisture. Its hydrating aloe-vera formula nods to our ancestor’s plant-derived creations while also adopting modern technology that maintains the vagina’s pH-levels.