K-Y Jelly

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K-Y brand logo
Product type Personal lubricants
Owner Reckitt Benckiser
Country US
Introduced 1904
Previous owners Johnson & Johnson
Website www.k-y.com

K-Y Jelly is a water-based, water-soluble personal lubricant, most commonly used as a lubricant for sexual intercourse. A variety of different products and formulas are produced under the K-Y banner. According to the company, "The origins of the brand name 'K-Y' are unknown. Two popular hypotheses are that it was created in Kentucky, hence 'K-Y', or that the letters represent the key ingredients used to make the lubricant, neither of which is proven."[1] In March 2014, Reckitt Benckiser agreed to buy the K-Y brand from Johnson & Johnson.[2]


A tube of K-Y Jelly

Introduced in January 1904 by a pharmaceutical and suture maker Van Horn and Sawtell of New York City,[3] 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. It does not react with latex condoms or silicone rubber-based sex toys. While K-Y has a thick consistency and a tendency to dry out during use, it can be "reactivated" by the addition of saliva or more water. K-Y Jelly does not contain a spermicide. A formulation with nonoxynol-9 was available, but Johnson & Johnson removed it from the market after finding that it could facilitate HIV spread.[4]


Unlike petroleum-based lubricants, K-Y is generally biologically inert, and contains no color or perfume additives. The lubricant is extremely popular because it does not stain and is easily cleaned up. K-Y Jelly has been available over the counter in the United States since 1980.[5]


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.


While K-Y Jelly can be and is used for a variety of different purposes, it is most commonly associated with being a personal lubricant used to enhance sexual intercourse and masturbation. One or more of the participants will typically apply a small amount to their genitals to enhance or supplement the moisture required to perform sexual acts.

K-Y Jelly is also used clinically to perform prostate examinations in men and gynecological examinations in women. For prostate exams, physicians use K-Y Jelly to lubricate a finger to ease insertion into the rectum for prostate assessment. Similarly for female pelvic exams, K-Y Jelly is used to lubricate a physician's index and middle finger to be inserted into the vagina to assess pelvic muscle tone and tenderness. A rectovaginal examination is also often performed in which the index finger is inserted into the vagina and the middle finger into the rectum. The physician's other hand is then used to assess the structure of pelvic organs put into place by the intra-vaginal hand.

As stated in documentaries such as The Terror Takes Shape found on the DVD and Blu-ray Editions of John Carpenter's The Thing, K-Y Jelly has also found use in the horror-movie industry by special effects technicians like Stan Winston and Rob Bottin to create a "slimy" appearance for monster puppet effects. Cinematographer Peter Kuran reminisces during The Terror Takes Shape how a major studio ordered multiple "five-gallon pails of K-Y Jelly" in order to "slime up" the Dog-Monster for the infamous "kennel" scene from The Thing.

Copious amounts of K-Y Jelly were also used to simulate saliva and to give the eponymous Alien of the 1979 film an overall slimy appearance as well as the blood of the eponymous Predator of the 1987 film which was mixed with chemiluminescence fluid from green glowsticks. K-Y Jelly was used for the Dilophosaurus's venom in Jurassic Park.


  1. ^ "K-Y FAQ'S: What is the meaning behind the brand name "K-Y®"?". Retrieved 2017-03-09. 
  2. ^ Ballard, Ed (2014-03-10). "Reckitt Benckiser Buys K-Y Brand". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 2017-03-09. 
  3. ^ Antiseptic non-fatty and soluble lubricating jelly
  4. ^ Zimmerman, Rachel (2002-09-25). "Some Makers, Vendors Drop N-9 Spermicide on HIV Risk". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 2017-03-09. 
  5. ^ Sauer, Abram (2006-08-27). "K-Y's Brand Identity Makeover". BusinessWeek. Retrieved 2017-03-09. 

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