K-Y Jelly

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K-Y Jelly logo 2020.JPG
Product typePersonal lubricants
OwnerReckitt Benckiser
Introduced1904; 116 years ago (1904)
Previous ownersJohnson & Johnson
Van Horn and Sawtell

K-Y Jelly is a water-based, water-soluble personal lubricant, most commonly used as a lubricant for sexual intercourse and masturbation. A variety of different products and formulas are produced under the K-Y banner,[citation needed] some of which are not water-soluble.


A tube of K-Y Jelly
The origins [and meaning] of the brand name 'K-Y®' are unknown. Two popular myths are that (1) it was created in Kentucky and (2) the letters represent the key ingredients used to make the lubricant. ... [W]e can confirm that neither of these myths are true ...[1]

Introduced in January 1904 by pharmaceutical company and suture manufacturer Van Horn and Sawtell of New York City,[2] and later acquired by Johnson & Johnson, K-Y Jelly's original stated purpose was as a surgical lubricant, and it was often chosen by doctors because of its natural base. The product is now more widely used as a sexual lubricant to supplement the moisture required for performing sexual acts.[citation needed][3]

Reckitt Benckiser purchased the brand in 2014.[4]


Unlike petroleum-based lubricants, K-Y jelly is biologically inert, reacting with neither latex condoms nor silicone-based sex toys, and contains no added colors or perfumes.[citation needed] It is non-staining and easy to clean up. Despite having a thick consistency and a tendency to dry out during use, it can be "reactivated" by the addition of saliva or water.[citation needed]

The product contains no spermicide and thus cannot be used to prevent pregnancy. A formulation containing nonoxynol-9 was removed from the market after the spermicide was found to facilitate the spread of HIV.[5]

K-Y Jelly has been available over the counter in the United States since 1980.[6]


K-Y NG uses glycerin and hydroxyethyl cellulose as the lubricant, with chlorhexidine gluconate, glucono delta-lactone, methylparaben and sodium hydroxide as antiseptic and preservative additives. The liquid form of the product combines glycerin with propylene glycol, sorbitol, and Natrosol 250H (a brand of hydroxyethyl cellulose) for lubrication, with benzoic acid, methylparaben and sodium hydroxide as additives.[citation needed]



In addition to its use as a personal lubricant,[citation needed] K-Y Jelly is employed by clinicians to perform prostate and gynecological examinations.[citation needed]

It is used by Dentists to cover composite restorations when light curing. This prevents the oxygen inhibitation layer which causes marginal discolouration of restorations.


It is also used by special effects technicians to create a "slimy" appearance or simulate saliva for animatronic monsters, most notably the Alien series.[7]


  1. ^ "K-Y FAQ's: What is the meaning behind the brand name 'K-Y®'?". Retrieved 2018-06-10.
  2. ^ Antiseptic non-fatty and soluble lubricating jelly
  3. ^ "K-Y Jelly Water Based Personal Lube". K-Y.
  4. ^ Ballard, Ed (2014-03-10). "Reckitt Benckiser Buys K-Y Brand". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 2017-03-09.
  5. ^ Zimmerman, Rachel (2002-09-25). "Some Makers, Vendors Drop N-9 Spermicide on HIV Risk". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 2017-03-09.
  6. ^ Sauer, Abram (2006-08-27). "K-Y's Brand Identity Makeover". BusinessWeek. Retrieved 2017-03-09.
  7. ^ Smith, Jason; Gallardo, Ximena (2006). Alien Woman: The Making of Lt. Ellen Ripley. Continuum. p. 26. ISBN 978-0826419101.

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