I recently had the pleasure of catching up with the fantastic Claire Colclough. Claire is one half of the power duo, her partner Alan McCarthy being the second half, behind the Melbourne-based personal lubricant brand Lucy Lube.
We chatted about why it's important to educate ourselves on what we're putting on and in our bodies, common myths around the use of personal lubricant (hint: That All Lubes Are Sticky is actually total BS), and how sexual shame and dysfunction are intimately related.
To start things off, tell us an interesting story about yourselves:
Alan and I have been friends for about 7 years. We are both Irish, though we met in Australia through some mutual friends. Alan is a BIG ideas man and is always pitching his ideas onto people and the conversation about Lucy first happened after we finished a yoga class about 4 years ago. It was an idea that never left my mind and kept popping up until we decided to finally bite the bullet and make a start in July 2019.
You talk about this idea of "modern wellness" as a focus point for Lucy. What does "modern wellness mean" to you and why is it so important?
We think it’s important to look at wellness through a new lense. We want to take a holistic approach to sex and intimacy, which we see as being a more modern approach to what has been done in the past.
Made up by a spectrum of inclusions - mental health, physical wellbeing, education, beliefs, empowerment, conversation - we want to create a platform (and product) that touches on all of these aspects of sexual wellness. We value everyone’s right to experience pleasure regardless of age, gender or preference.
We are creating a sex care brand and we have an incredible product that we see as a tool for great sex; it might empower some people to have a new type of sex, encourage different conversations with an intimate partners or be used with toys for exploring new things. As a whole, we care about the sex and experiences that people are having.
Lube: why do you care about it?
Lubricant has been stigmatised for so long and it’s time for that to end. We want to normalise the use of lube and educate people around the benefits of using it in the bedroom.
From personal experience, we know that finding a great product isn’t always that easy. Yes, the supermarket and pharmacies have options but these generally contain ingredients that can cause negative effects on your body. We wanted to create a product that was Australian made as we feel it’s important to be able to source a quality product made locally to the highest standard.
We value safe exploration, playfulness and trying new things in a way that is comfortable and safe - and we want Lucy Lube to be part of this experimentation.
Why should other people care about lube? And specifically about the type of lube they’re using?
It is incredibly important that people become aware of what they are putting in their body with the majority of products readily available in the supermarket or pharmacies containing Parabens (Estrogen mimics, found in breast tumours, avoid if you have any hormonal related concerns), Glycerine (can cause dehydration and may trigger thrush outbreaks and can leave sticky residue) and Glycols (Cell wall disrupter).
Most people know about pH levels and what that means. We want people to develop knowledge and curiosity about what products they are putting in, on or around their most sensitive areas especially when it comes to pH levels in products.
Without undertaking a lot of research it can be hard to know how your body reacts to such ingredients. We wanted to create a quality product which means you don’t need to worry about negative impacts of using/ introducing lubricant.
If you could totally erase one or two myths people have about lube, what would they be?
1. That using lubricant means that I am not really enjoying the sex that I am having - this is just total BS. There are a myriad of reasons why you may want to include lubricant in your sexual intimacy. Lubrication can take time and so you might just want a quickie. Or you may suffer from vaginal dryness which is totally normal.
2. That All Lubes Are Sticky - also total BS. Not all lubricants are made equally. We have a bespoke formulation that is not sticky nor does it smell, taste weird, glow in the dark or ruin your bedsheets.
3. That I should be embarrassed about using lube - there is no shame in it. We can’t stress this enough.
What do you think is the hardest stigma to break down regarding the use of lube?
The shame around usage of lubricant. The cultural scripts imply that there is something wrong with you if you're not wet enough. When normal body processes aren’t discussed openly, the topic is implicitly perceived as inappropriate and ties up in problematic shame. And so sexual shame and dysfunction are intimately related.
Vaginal hygiene and wetness myths have been centered around misinformation about discharge and wetness. These myths are widespread and cross continents, race, religion and history. It is time for these myths to be debunked and for shame and stigma to be removed from the conversation.
What have you noticed about the online community you’ve created and are a part of?
The tides are shifting, albeit slowly! There is a thirst for information about Sexual Wellness, Sextech and Femtech, and sexual intimacy products are hitting the main headlines (Thanks Lilly Allen and the Womanizer).
We are loving the connectedness of the community; 2020 has been a time for personal reflection for so many. We have had to slow down and been given the gift of time that so many of us never had before. There has been a lot of exploration of sex and intimacy and what this looks like through the highs and lows of a very complex year.
What are you really proud of that’s happened in the last year?
We are incredibly proud of keeping going! We have encountered so many delays with getting this product to market that at times it felt like the launch date would never come. So we are very proud to have gotten there (well almost, launch date Feb 2021). Having a partnership has meant we have been able to support each other through the hard times and celebrate the wins along the way.
What piece of advice would you give to someone who is just starting to explore and take care of their sexuality or sexual wellness?
Tune into yourself; start to recognise what your body enjoys and responds to. Journaling is a great way to document this introspective journey and there are a lot of resources online to help this, from pleasure journals to free courses and workshops.
With a partner; try exploring the concept of Good Enough Sex - this is a flexible, pleasure orienatated approach to couple sexuality which involves a 85% approach to intercoutse and orgams while validating alternative sensual and erotic scenarios.
Top recommended reads: Come As You Are by Emily Nagoski, The Sex Myth by Rachel Hills or The Wonder Down Under: A User's Guide to the Vagina by Nina Brochmann, Ellen Stokken Dahl and Lucy Moffatt.
Where you can find Claire and Alan: