We want to let you in on a little secret. Not all “rubbers” are made of rubber. Some look like and feel like they are, even when they aren’t.
Stick around as we cover the highlights of non-latex condoms, including the best non-latex condoms available today, their various materials, effectiveness and more.
Perhaps more important, discover why you might need, or just want, to use latex-free condoms.
What are non-latex condoms?
At their core, non-latex condoms look, and mostly feel, like any other traditional latex condoms. What differentiates them is their material.
"The main difference between non-latex vs. latex condoms is the absence of latex allergens."
Latex-free condoms, as their name indicates, have no presence of the natural rubber latex allergens, making them an appropriate choice for people with an allergy or sensitivity to latex.
What are the best non-latex condoms?
Condoms are about as personal of a product as it gets. So it makes sense that personal preference ultimately is the decision-maker for what is “the best” for you.
Selecting condoms that are FDA approved, along with other international quality certification standards, gives you the peace of mind that you are using quality products.
Approved condoms are all under the strict supervision of the FDA (in the US) and international quality systems, so the level of reliability is not an issue. Beyond that, your preferences take over.
You may like one more than another based on any number of personal reasons, so try polyisoprene, polyurethane, and natural varieties to know what feels best to you.
Here is the list of the top-rated non-latex condoms:
This one is 20% thinner than SKYN Original. Made of ultra-thin and ultra-soft polyisoprene latex-free material.
SKYN ELITE LARGE
This is a large version of SKYN ELITE. It's also 20% thinner than SKYN Original, just a bit bigger in size. Made of ultra-thin and ultra-soft polyisoprene latex-free material.
Durex Avanti is a polyisoprene non-latex condom that gives you a natural skin-on-skin feeling.
TROJAN SUPRA is America’s thinnest non-latex. It's made of medical-grade polyurethane.
SKYN Studded is a non-latex condom that features deep studs in a unique wave-like pattern.
All the condoms we mentioned above are suitable for latex-sensitive people.
A latex allergy is the reaction of a human body that has an immune system that is over-sensitive to the latex substance or, more specifically, to the natural rubber latex protein.
According to statistics in the US, less than 1% of people are latex sensitive.
Though latex allergies are rare, some groups like doctors, dentists, and other health care workers can develop latex sensitivity by being in contact with latex products, like gloves.
It's estimated that between 8% and 17% of health care workers who regularly use latex products are latex sensitive.
That's why it is important for these higher-risk groups to use only non-latex gloves and other latex-free products.
Always check product labels to find out whether the products contain latex or not.
Origin of latex
Latex, also known as natural rubber latex, is a protein present in the sap of the Brazilian rubber tree (Hevea brasiliensis).
Latex is used to produce a variety of everyday products as well as condoms.
How do you know if you are allergic to latex condoms?
The allergic reactions may range from mild, like minor skin irritation, rashes, runny nose, sneezing, or redness, to severe and even life-threatening.
If you have any questions, concerns or suspicions about this condition, consult with your doctor for medical advice.
Fortunately, today's range of non-latex condoms is much better than even just a few years ago. However, due to patent issues and other considerations, not every manufacturer makes these types of prophylactics.
Ranging from natural to synthetic varieties, there are currently three materials used to make non-latex condoms:
These materials differentiate themselves a bit by their appearance and feel.
Polyisoprene has very similar, almost identical properties to latex in terms of how it feels, stretches and looks, just minus the latex allergens.
This latex-free material is soft, which makes it quite comfortable to wear for your skin-to-skin contact.
Polyurethane is a medical-grade material that is thin, clear plastic. It might sound weird, and we have to tell you that it is less stretchy than both latex and the polyisoprene material mentioned earlier, but stay with us. Polyurethane does have its definite benefits.
Besides the fact that it is an option for latex allergy sufferers, one of the cool things about this material is that it transforms body heat really well, which is invaluable in intimate situations.
Lambskin condoms are as close to nature as you can get because they are made from lamb intestines.
That’s right, intestinal membrane. They are also nicknamed natural or sheepskin condoms.
It’s very important to remember that this type of prophylactic does NOT protect against STDs. They only help in the prevention of unwanted pregnancy.
Non-latex vs. latex condoms
The main difference between non-latex vs. latex condoms is the absence of latex allergens.
To the untrained eye, polyisoprene condoms are hard to distinguish from their rubber counterparts.
As a reminder, if you do have a rubber allergy, always read the packaging to know what you are using.
Yes, all condoms, including latex free ones, have an expiration date.
You should always check the product box or the wrapper for the fine print.
The shelf life varies by material but is usually similar to latex, anywhere between two to five years.
Effectiveness & Reliability
The effectiveness of latex-free condoms vs. latex varieties is on par with each other. According to statistics, if you use condoms properly, and every time you engage in that fun, intimate activity, you can expect 98% effectiveness.
So, that means that condoms only work if you use them.
We’ve talked a lot about the materials, but not their origin.
The history of condoms, and even in the case of non-latex condoms, goes back way further than you might ever guess. Then there was a huge gap between the first known material and the next. We’re talking like a 500-year gap.
The oldest in this category, without a doubt, are lambskin condoms, which, as we mentioned, are made of animal intestines. This dates back to, say, the 1500s. Maybe even before that, but we know the mid-Renaissance era saw their use.
Then you have to skip to nearly the new millennium to see the next latex-free option.
In 1997, the first polyurethane condoms, Durex’s Avanti, hit the sheets.
This had to make all rubber allergy sufferers extremely happy because they finally had a new safe sex option. Trojan followed suit two years later with it’s Supra condoms.
Thankfully, it didn’t take another 500 years before another material innovation came along.
LifeStyles Skyn condoms, made of polyisoprene, debuted in 2008.
Durex subsequently redesigned its Avanti to use this natural-feeling material, which many find to be very soft and comfy.
To Wrap It Up
Non-latex condoms are certainly the answer for people with an allergy or sensitivity to natural rubber latex.
Even if you don’t have a medical reason for using them, still give them a try. You may like the characteristics of one of these materials so much that it becomes your personal prophylactic preference.
Last updated on July 13, 2020.