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The Unexpected Role of Personal Lubricants & Mermaid Costumes

Dr. Lisa Lawless

Dr. Lisa Lawless, CEO of Holistic Wisdom
Clinical Psychotherapist: Relationship & Sexual Health Expert

mermaid tail costume

Mermaid Mania Making Waves

Mermaids and merfolk have become a growing industry over the last decade. Having visited the world-famous mermaids of Weeki Wachee Springs during my childhood, it is exciting to see how much the industry has grown.

Mermaid mania is making fans want to shell-abrate with Disney's "The Little Mermaid," which splashed onto screens on May 26, 2023, and Netflix's fin-tastic "Merpeople" on May 23, 2023.


"Merpeople" is a fascinating series as it explores the trials and tribulations of what it takes to be a professional merperson. The terms "merpeople" or "merfolk" are utilized to provide a more inclusive representation for all genders. While guppies refers to those new to the mer-world.

The series features professionals that speak to the hopes and dreams as well as the challenges of working in the field. It is a show full of flippin' fabulous individuals, known through their mer-sonas (mermaid personas), such as Brittany "Sparkles" Mermaid, Mermaid Morgana Alba, the Fairy Fin-Mother, Mermaid Chè Monique, Eric Ducharme, 'The Mertailor,' and The Blixunami, making it a fascinating world to explore.

An Inclusive Community

The mer-word community is incredibly inclusive for those who are plus-sized, LGBTQ+, and neurodivergent people as well as people of color. It also embraces those with disabilities and those of all ages. Many find mermaiding to connect them to like-minded people when they find a local "pod" (merfolk who swim together). Magical merfolk often lift each other by exclaiming 'Yes, fish!'

Mermaid Fitness & Certifications

Mermaid workouts and mermaid schools are offering a new take on fitness. In addition, mermaid certifications such as the PADI Mermaid™ course provide instruction from certified divers to help develop mermaid skills such as dolphin (butterfly) kicks, C-shape and U-shape side turns, and more, allowing for more in-depth training.

The Role Of Lubes For Merfolk

You might wonder, "Why is a sexual health company discussing mermaids and merpeople and not mermaid dildos?" Well, it's quite simple! Many performers frequently use personal lubricants to help them slip into their costumes smoothly and comfortably and we know lubricants!

Some may be unaware that they are using lubricants that contain parabens and other chemicals that may cause issues with their health as well as the fish and other sea creatures living in the tanks in which they perform.

That's where we step in! We are here to provide empowering information that helps performers and those who hire them.

What Types Of Monofins Require Lubricant?

Merperson or mermaid and merman tails are known as monofins and are used for swimming, cosplay, and performances. They can be made from swimsuit materials such as nylon, polyester, Lycra/Spandex, Polybutylene Terephthalate (PBT), Neoprene as well as latex, or silicone.

Tails that are likely to require a lubricant to slide on are those made from silicone or latex due to their tight fit and non-slip nature. Silicone and latex tails are often chosen because they look more realistic and move more fluidly in the water than fabric-based tails. Because they tend to cling to the skin, so they are much harder to put on or remove.

In some cases, silicone tails have an inner lining that allows them to be easily put on without lubricant. This is true with brands such as Mertailor, where lubricants are discouraged.

Water-Based Lubricants

Merpeople tend to use personal lubricants to slide them on because quality lubricants are safe for both your skin and the material of the tail. People typically use water-based lubricants because others that contain silicone, oil, or hybrids can be slippery and cause problems for the chemical balance of pools or tanks with living fish and sea creatures.

What's In Water-based Lubricants?

Many water-based personal lubricants contain the following ingredients: water, glycerin, propylene glycol, cellulose and its derivatives, various preservatives, and pH Adjusters.

Many of these ingredients should not cause a problem for the skin's health and keeping pools and tanks balanced. However, it is essential to explore what may be problematic ingredients to ensure healthy skin as well as clean pools and tanks.

How Do They Impact Pools?

Most water-based personal lubricants should be acceptable for pool water as long as the pool is properly maintained. However, a large amount of lubricant in the water may require additional maintenance and cleaning.

How Do They Impact Tanks?

The impact on marine life in tanks is more complex. While many ingredients in personal lubricants are biodegradable, some preservatives could potentially harm aquatic organisms, especially in large amounts.

Why You Should Avoid Parabens

Beyond the importance of proper osmolality and pH levels in lubricants, parabens are also important to know about as they may cause hormonal disruption, accumulate in your body through repeated exposure and cause skin irritation. They have been controversial, so we have compiled a helpful guide to address such concerns: Paraben-Free Lubricants

Brand names such as K-Y, Astroglide, Wet, I-D, System JO, Shunga, and even sex toy party company brands are just a few of the lubricants that have been known to contain parabens.

Parabens may pose risks to fish and other sea-life depending on various factors, such as the specific type of paraben, its concentration, exposure duration, and the species' sensitivity.

What Paraben Ingredients Should You Avoid?

The most common parabens found in water-based lubricants are as follows:

  • Methylparaben
  • Ethylparaben
  • Propylparaben
  • Butylparaben
  • Isobutylparaben
  • Benzylparaben

Some studies have suggested potential endocrine-disrupting effects of parabens on fish, indicating that they could interfere with hormonal systems. This is why we recommend using only paraben-free water-based lubricants.

In addition, lubricants that contain glycerin may be metabolized by bacteria which may be disruptive to an ecosystem in large amounts such as in a closed system like an aquarium.

Can You Use Oil Or Water-based Lubes?

Mermaid tails and monofins that are made of silicone or latex are compatible with water-based lubricants. While silicone is also compatible with oil-based lubricants, latex materials are generally not.

Furthermore, some silicone lubricants may contain ingredients that may harm aquatic life in tanks. They may also adversely affect tank components such as pumps, filters, heaters, or decorations. This is why most merpeople stick with water-based lubricants. 

Using Cornstarch

Some merpeople use corn starch, which absorbs moisture and allows the silicone or latex mermaid tail to slide on easier. However, cornstarch may contribute to nutrient imbalances in a live tank and increase levels of nitrates and phosphates. This can promote unwanted algae growth and negatively impact the water quality.

In a pool, cornstarch can cause bacterial growth, decrease water quality, affect the pH, and clog the pool's filtration system, which may require additional maintenance.

Learning About Silicone

Not all silicone is body safe as there are different types beyond testing it to be medical-grade or food-grade silicones. Quality silicone will either be platinum cured or cured with peroxide and post-baked. If the silicone is cured with tin, you may want to avoid it.

Furthermore, it is essential to make sure the pigments in them (colors) are also body-safe. Some yellows, for example, may contain cadmium which is not body safe. To learn more about different types of silicone and pigments, please see our helpful Silicone Guide

Determining The Healthiest Lubricant

Shell-abrate good times and learn more about lubricants for your health, please see our helpful guides: 

Lubricant Discounts For Merpeople

If you are a professional merperson, don't get tide down, go with the flow and please reach out to us, and we can provide you with special pricing on large bottles of quality, paraben-free, water-based personal lubricants to help get your fabulous tail on and off. 

Sea-s the day and purchase the purest water-based lubricant available shop now!

Explore The Purest Water-based Lubricants

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