The Best Condoms for the Ultimate Protection

LifeStyles SKYN Selection Non-Latex Condoms are latex-free and have a soft feel

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The 8 Best Condoms of 2022

Verywell / Sabrina Jiang

External condoms (also known as condoms) are used as a barrier form of contraception and prevent against HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs). They can be used for vaginal and anal sex, and for oral sex performed on people with a penis.

Reviewed & Approved

LifeStyles SKYN Selection Non-Latex Condoms are thin, latex-free, and come in a variety pack. For a snug fit, we'd recommend Caution Wear's Iron Grip.

External condoms come in many sizes, materials, and even flavors. There are regular latex external condoms, latex-free for those with allergies, ones that are ribbed for extra pleasure, and extra-sensitive for those who don’t want to feel like they’re wearing an external condom at all. “All latex and plastic condoms provide similar protection against pregnancy and STIs, regardless of their shape, size or flavor. Feel free to try different types of condoms to find the one that you like best," says Lucy Fisher, a Planned Parenthood educator.

When choosing an external condom, Fisher recommends keeping features like material, lubrication, and additional features in mind. We researched dozens of external condoms and evaluated them for material, lubrication, scent, added features, and price.

Here are the best external condoms on the market.

Best Overall: LifeStyles SKYN Selection Non-Latex Condoms, Variety Pack

4.9
box of skyn condoms

 Photo from Amazon

Pros
  • Comes in a variety pack

  • Latex-free

  • Thin and soft feel

Cons
  • Scent-free, which some users may want

We chose LifeStyles SKYN Selection Condoms as our best overall pick because it offers protection, is soft, and comes with a variety of 24 condoms: original, extra studded, and extra lube. Besides the added features, the condoms are all made with a polyisoprene material, meaning they’re latex-free for anyone with allergies. This material is thin in design, giving the feel of the protection barely being there, the brand claims. Each condom is also lubricated, which can provide more comfort when using.

Material: Polyisoprene | Added Features: Extra lubrication external condoms, extra studded external condoms | Lubricated: Yes

Best for Her: Okamoto Usa 004 Aloe Almost Nothing Condom

004 Aloe Almost Nothing Condom

Courtesy of Amazon

Pros
  • Water-based lubricant

  • Thin and soft feel

Cons
  • Only one size available

While Okamoto might not be a household name compared to other condom brands, the company should not be overlooked. Their condoms are formulated with female pleasure also under consideration. Each condom is coated with an aloe-infused, water-based lubricant, which Okamoto says acts like an anti-inflammatory to provide more comfort for women if they’re experiencing any discomfort. As an added bonus, the material used boasts a thinness and softness that make you forget a condom is on.

Material: Latex | Added Features: Aloe-infused lubrication | Lubricated: Yes

Best for Him: TROJAN BareSkin Lubricated Latex Condoms

Trojan BareSkin Condoms

Courtesy of Walmart

Pros
  • Thin and soft feel

  • Increases sensitivity

  • Lubricated

Cons
  • Noticeable latex smell

BareSkin external condoms are one of Trojan’s bestsellers, according to the brand, and for good reason. The latex external condoms are 50% thinner than the brand’s Ultra Ribbed Ecstasy, giving that feeling of it barely being there. Also, every external condom is lubricated to facilitate the ultimate pleasurable experience. So not only will using the external condom work towards preventing pregnancy and STIs, but it also produces incredible sensations.

Material: Latex | Added Features: Reservoir tip | Lubricated: Yes

Best Snug Fit: Caution Wear Iron Grip Snugger Fit

Caution Wear Iron Grip Snugger Fit Condom

Courtesy of Walmart

Pros
  • Close-fitting feel

  • Scent-free

Cons
  • One size available

External condoms don’t fit their function if there is any slippage or looseness when using. The Caution Wear Iron Grip Snugger is created to be not as wide as the standard external condom, providing a snug fit to the user with a width of 46mm. All it takes is slipping the external condom on and it works to stay in place throughout the entire sexual experience. The external condom also includes lubrication and is formulated with a reservoir tip.

Material: Latex | Added Features: Reservoir tip | Lubricated: Yes

Best Value: TROJAN ENZ Lubricated Condoms For Contraception Plus STI Protection

box of trojan condoms

 Photo from Amazon

Pros
  • Affordable

  • Durable material

Cons
  • Thicker than some users prefer

For a classic external condom that is affordable while also providing lubrication, try Trojan’s ENZ Lubricated. The pack is great for people on a budget, as it comes with 36 condoms to use at one’s pleasure. This external condom also sticks with the basics by offering a smooth, latex material that’s lubricated. So if you have a latex allergy, it’s best to stay away. The reliable design should reduce the risk of pregnancy or contracting STDs.

Material: Latex | Added Features: Reservoir tip | Lubricated: Yes

Best Latex-Free: Durex Avanti Bare Real Feel Non Latex Condoms

Durex Avanti Bare RealFeel Ultra Fine condom

 Courtesy of Walgreens

Pros
  • Latex-free

  • Discreet packaging

  • Affordable

Cons
  • Lacks significant lubrication

Latex tends to be a go-to material for most external condom brands, making it difficult for anyone who might suffer an allergy. But these condoms from Durex are made with a polyisoprene material that should not cause irritation for anyone allergic to latex. A bonus of the condoms is they’re budget-friendly and affordable.

Material: Polyisoprene | Added Features: Bare-skin feeling | Lubricated: Yes

Best Flavored: Durex Tropical Flavors Condom

Durex Tropical Flavors Condom, 12 ct

Courtesy of Amazon 

Pros
  • Flavored

  • Affordable

Cons
  • Taste isn't strong enough for some users

Looking to add a little spice, or taste, to your sex life? These Durex condoms come in tropical flavors that will make it a fun and pleasurable experience, especially if used during oral sex. A variety of flavors are included in the pack, such as apple, orange, strawberry, and banana. Besides the flavor, the condoms also are made with an ultra-thin material that provides added comfort and sensation.

Material: Latex | Added Features: Flavored | Lubricated: Yes

Best Variety Pack: TROJAN Pleasure Pack Lubricated Latex Condoms

Trojan Pleasure Pack

Courtesy of Walmart

Pros
  • Contains multiple types of condoms with various added features

  • Multiple sizes available

Cons
  • Can feel too thick for some

If you find it hard to decide between an external condom with an extra lubricant or a ribbed design, then this variety pack could be just for you. The Trojan Pleasure Pack includes an array of external condoms that are ribbed, extra lubricated, with hot and cold stimulation, and a thinner design. So whether you and your partner want ribbed one night and extra lubrication the next, this pack offers options to keep the bedroom fun.

Material: Latex | Added Features: Ribbed, extra lube, hot and cold stimulation, thin | Lubricated: Yes

Final Verdict

LifeStyles SKYN Selection Condoms (view at Amazon) aim to improve comfort and pleasure with a variety pack of three options for different sensations, all lubricated for easy use. If you're looking to stay safe but avoiding latex, Durex's Avanti Bare Real Feel external condoms (view at Walmart) offer a lower-cost option in an alternative material that's allergy-friendly.

What to Look for in Condoms

Material

External condoms come in a variety of materials for the user, but the most common one you’ll likely find on store shelves is made with latex. This material has proven to work well for external condoms because it is capable of stretching to fit around the penis, all while proving to be strong enough to not tear during intercourse. But not everyone is capable of using latex-based external condoms because they are allergic to the material. “They can also be made of other materials like polyurethane, polystyrene, and lambskin,” says Kecia Gaither, MD, double board-certified in OB/GYN and Maternal Fetal Medicine, Director of Perinatal Services at NYC Health + Hospitals/Lincoln. 

If you’re using lambskin-based external condoms, though, it is important to note that the material will not protect against STDs like other external condoms. But the material does work as contraception. 

Right Size

If the external condom is too tight or too loose, it is unable to serve its intended purpose as contraception. Experts recommend men try on external condoms when their penis is fully erect to best determine what size works well for them. “The average penis size is 5 to 7 inches long, with a girth of 3.5-6 inches in circumference,” Dr. Gaither says. “Most condoms are 7 inches long, and have a reservoir at the tip for semen collection.” 

There are several key signs to pay attention to that could indicate if the external condom is too small or too big on the penis. One sign, says Tamika Cross, MD, board-certified obstetrician and gynecologist based in Texas, is if the external condom slips on too easily, looks loose, or “you feel like it is moving during intercourse.” This indicates that the external condom is too large and the user should select a smaller size. “If you’re struggling to get it on or you’re putting it on and it feels like it’s cutting off your blood supply, then it’s probably too tight,” Dr. Cross adds. “A condom shouldn’t be uncomfortable.” 

Lubrication

Several external condoms on the market come with lubrication included on the contraception. This added feature can make sexual intercourse more pleasurable. “I would probably say that the lubricated ones would be better because you can never have too much lubrication, but you can have too little,” Dr. Cross says. “Not enough lubrication can result in high friction, breaking and tearing of the condom, or discomfort or abrasions to the vagina.” But this doesn’t necessarily mean that everyone would need to use lubricated external condoms, or separate lube, in order to enjoy intercourse. “If women feel like they are adequately lubricated naturally then they may not need a lubricated condom,” Dr. Cross adds. 

It is important to pay attention to the ingredients in lubes if you choose to use one that is separate from what can be provided from external condoms. Oil-based lubricants cannot be used with latex external condoms because it breaks down the material, causing it to be less effective. When using latex external condoms, one should use either a water-based or silicone-based lubricant.

Added Features

Besides using external condoms to help in preventing pregnancy and STIs, they can also be used to increase pleasure and excitement in the bedroom. There are a plethora of external condoms on the market that offer added features, such as extra lubrication, ribbed design, or a heating and cooling sensation. These features will not only add variety to your sex life, but they can also increase gratification for you and your partner. “I tell my patients to try different brands and styles but not forget the basics to avoid errors,” says Jamin Brahmbhatt, MD, a urologist with Orlando Health Medical Group Urology and president of the Florida Urological Society. “I also let them know that comfort and experience should be priorities, but not number one—this should always be your and [their] safety,” he adds. 

Unsure what added features you might like in your sex life? Variety packs can be a simple and budget-friendly solution because they give you the ability to test different condoms without having to buy multiple packs.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How effective are condoms at preventing STDs?

    Yes, condoms are about “98 percent effective against STDs,” Dr. Brahmbhatt says. “They can be great at preventing infections like HIV, gonorrhea and chlamydia.” But the expert warned that there are still STDs that could be spread from skin-to-skin contact between partners, despite the use of condoms. This includes “herpes, genital warts, and syphilis,” Dr. Brahmbhatt says. Incorrect and inconsistent condom use can lead to the contraction of STDs, which is why it’s important to have the condom on at the start of skin-to-skin contact to protect everyone.

    “The biggest mistake is just not putting [the condom] on early enough. A lot of people tend to get started in their activities and foreplay, and body fluids are exchanged before," explains Tamika Cross, MD, board-certified obstetrician and gynecologist based in Texas. "Putting it on halfway during intercourse is not going to be as effective, especially if some sperm has already been exchanged or any bodily fluids from an STI standpoint.”

  • How do I know which size condom to buy?

    Condoms should feel snug on the penis and be capable of staying throughout the entirety of intercourse without moving or falling off. “To ensure proper fit, it's helpful to try on different sizes while the penis is erect,” Dr. Gaither says. “Basically, a girth of less than 4.7 inches needs a snug fit, girth 4.7 inches  to 5.1 inches needs a regular fit, and a girth greater than 5.1 inches requires a large fit.” Trying on condoms prior to intercourse can assist in making sure the right size is being used during the actual act. “Slippage and breakage are common findings with inappropriate fit,” Dr. Gaither adds.

  • Do external condoms expire?

    Yes, condoms do expire, so it is important to pay attention to the expiration date to ensure the product is working as intended. “The materials overtime can break down and not be as effective or can be more likely to break,” Dr. Cross says. “It is important to look at expiration dates because the efficacy and likelihood of breaking is going to be impacted, which defeats the entire purpose of using it.”

Why Trust Verywell Health

As a seasoned health writer, Danielle Zoellner knows the importance of finding just the right product to fit your medical needs. Throughout her career, Danielle has interviewed a variety of experts in the medical and health fields while reviewing dozens of products. Her experience and knowledge in the fieldwork together to help readers like yourself find the best products for your daily life.

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