These Powerhouse Women Want to Change Our Relationship With Sex (and Lube) in the Best Way

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POPSUGAR Australia is dedicating the month of September to featuring the next generation of inspired thinkers and courageous individuals who are building and manifesting a brighter future — because the next gen is unstoppable. We will deliver personal essays from young Australians who are making a name for themselves, as well as inspiring thought pieces and interviews with rising talent across different industries throughout the month. Find all of our pieces here, and if there’s someone you think is missing, email our editor so we can share their story — abardas@valmorgan.com.au.

Lube isn’t something that often finds its way into our conversations about sex, but it really should.

When you think lube, you probably think blurry one night stands that often involve lots of fumbling, fake orgasms and something cold and sticky in super sensitive places, all in the name of ‘good sex’.

You might even think of times when lube was used because you ‘weren’t wet enough’ and it made you feel ashamed, or as though you’d done something wrong.

Lube isn’t necessarily known as something helpful, something that can support your sexual desires and make sex that much more enjoyable. It’s also not often positioned as something that can benefit both women and men.

And that’s exactly what co-owners of FIGR Eloise Eloise O’Sullivan and Eloise McCullough are set on changing.

Eloise O’Sullivan (left), Eloise McCullough (right).

FIGR is a pH balanced lube, made from naturally derived ingredients and packaged in a beautiful and sustainable glass bottle. It was born out of COVID-19’s first 2020 lockdown in Melbourne.

“My dad has a sex shop on the Gold Coast and I was working there at the time,” Eloise O’Sullivan tells POPSUGAR Australia.

“I was noticing so many women my age coming in, with no idea what they were buying or what the products are for, which sparked mine and Eloise’s conversation about open discourse around sex as women.”

“My boyfriend-at-the-time and I had recently been into a Sexyland and were so disappointed by how uncomfortable the whole experience was,” Eloise McCullough added.

“The fluorescent lighting wasn’t sexy, the staff weren’t relatable or warm…”

Wouldn’t it be nice to live in a world where beautiful sex stores existed everywhere, filled with sustainable toys, sex positive conversations, flowers and mood lighting and most importantly, daylight business hours?

The Eloise’s might not be opening their own sex store (never say never), but they are bringing positive sex conversations along with their own brand of lube.

“Lube made sense to us because we both use it ourselves and noticed the shame surrounding lube through our own experiences,” Eloise McCullough says.

“My boyfriend at the time had a big bottle of shower gel and we used that. I never went out to buy lube myself because of the shame attached to ‘needing’ it and nothing that was on the market felt right.”

“I mean, I was using coconut oil, I was that girl,” Eloise O adds.

“I kept wondering why I was getting yeast infections. When I put two and two together, I realised that coconut oil has super high pH levels, which were causing yeast infections.

“But the media puts out so much misinformation. I read an article a few weeks ago that suggested using coconut oil or egg whites as ‘at-home lube’.”

TBH, I couldn’t think of anything grosser to lather on my vulva in a sexy moment than egg whites. The Eloises agree, and sadly, they’re pretty used to spotting misinformation and problematic messaging surrounding lube.

Posting to Instagram, they shared a publication that they were grateful to be mentioned in. It was their first proper print-out and they were excited. But they couldn’t help but notice the messaging that surrounded their call out as being problematic.

Not only was the pull-out gendered in an outdated way, splashed with dolled up women, the colour pink and a feature article on how past generations of women had fewer weight problems due to their incessant cleaning duties, the piece they were featured in headlined ‘ethical porn’, but had no actual links or resources to said ethical porn.

“It was really sad to see,” Eloise O says.

“All the articles were blaming you, blaming women, telling us we’re the problem and how we can fix ourselves. It’s just so… outdated.”

This Instagram post sparked conversation on social media, thanking the girls for ‘calling out the BS’ and shocked by how ‘toxic’ articles like this are making it into newspaper pages in 2021.

The Eloise’s might be businesswomen, who saw a gap in the market and aimed to fill it with a great product and positive conversation, but they’re also creating a movement, opening up the conversation and removing the stigma and shame that follows women around when it comes to getting wet.

“In mainstream porn videos, the men always get really turned on by how wet a girl is, but it isn’t clear how that occurs,” Eloise O says.

“Like, he just takes his pants off and she’s dripping… but how? When we can’t do that, we’ve been taught to take the blame, to feel as though it’s our fault, which has led to ‘needing’ lube as being this negative thing. But it’s not.”

Figr lube looking delicious. Image: Supplied

Unsurprisingly, FIGR has been a huge success, but their market isn’t exactly what they expected.

“When we started FIGR, we had a market in mind,” says Eloise M.

“They were people like us, in our mid-twenties, female identifying. But we’ve had reviews from such unexpected people and it’s amazing.

“One 69-year-old woman left us an amazing review the other day and an older man too, who thanked us saying that he’d made his woman c*m five times!”

The Eloises are stoked that a huge range of different people are buying, using and loving their product, especially when they share it on social media.

“It’s really amazing to see people post about FIGR on Instagram in the same way they would some new skincare,” Eloise O says.

“I can’t imagine that happening five or six years ago, people promoting a lube brand and being proud and confident about using lube in their sex life.”

The business has also encouraged the Eloises to be more open, transparent about their own sex lives and struggles, which has been a rewarding experience for them.

“Everything about this process has felt natural and evolving as we go,” Eloise M says.

“I’m sure that what we’ll be doing in a year’s time will be different to what we’re doing now, as we keep discovering our voices and continue to evolve and change.”

“Our main thing is trying to normalise lube as much as possible,” Eloise O adds.

“If we can keep continuing that conversation, we’ll be cool stoked with whatever comes out of it.”

FIGR is made with naturally derived ingredients, including finger lime and strawberry gum and isn’t scented. Once they’d landed on their lube being the natural scent of a vulva, they said it just ‘made sense’.

FIGR is never-sticky, latex friendly, toy-compatible and completely sustainable — from its ingredients, to its packaging. It’s the kind of lube you want to show off, not tuck away at the back of your undies drawer.

You can buy your own bottle of FIGR on their website, and follow them on Instagram as they take over the sex positive space here.

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