Runi’s Play Primer Sex Serum
Credit: Nicole Guappone

Rebellious readers, I come back with a bang — just in time for Valentine’s Day.

Hands down, one of my favorite new products over the last year is Runi’s Play Primer Sex Serum. It’s been awhile since I discovered a lube that I love so much, and the most exciting part is that things I’ve loved from other lubes in the past (CBD, aloe vera, hyaluronic acid) can ALL be found in this little red bottle. I thought it was too good to be true and I really didn’t know what to expect. 

I can tell you what else I didn’t expect — a bottle completely devoid of 90 degree angles that fits in the palm of my hand and is (fairly) easy to squeeze onto the places that mean the most.

There’s a lot to love about Runi’s Play Primer, but I’ll start with the ingredients. It’s a short list, so those ingredients I love are used in higher concentration than in other lubes I’ve used. The first ingredient is aloe vera gel. This essentially makes it a water-based lube because aloe vera is, conservatively, 98 percent water. Unlike oil- and silicone-based lubes, water-based lube is all purpose. You can safely use it with condoms, toys, and in butts or vaginas. The reason I like an aloe vera water-based lube is because aloe vera is naturally moisturizing, so if you have any vaginal or vulvar dryness, it’s just a little extra nourishing to the skin. 

You can also find hyaluronic acid in Runi. It might sound like something you wouldn’t want to put inside you, but it’s actually already found in the fluids in your body (like in the eyes and the fluid surrounding your joints). Hyaluronic acid is a substance that retains moisture. Applying it topically will provide surface-level hydration, which is something you want in a vagina and something I love in a lube. Give me ALL the vagina-safe moisturizing ingredients!! 

I also LOVE a CBD lube. CBD is meant to encourage blood flow, relax muscles and increase sensation. I appreciate all of these things as someone with pelvic pain. (While my pain is no longer chronic, like it was when I first started reviewing toys for Rebellious, I do still have to be cautious of tension in my pelvic floor. Honestly, most of us do! So if you experience pain with sex — and you’ve been seen by a doctor or pelvic floor physical therapist — consider giving CBD lube a try.)

Aloe vera, CBD and hyaluronic acid are the first three ingredients in Runi’s Play Primer, and aside from an antioxidant, the only other ingredients are mushroom extracts. 

Mushrooms! I will be the first person to admit that I don’t know much about mushrooms, which is why I reached out to Felicia Hershenhorn, founder and CEO of Runi. “I am the self-proclaimed shroom-queen and have been using them in my skin care routine for years due to their hydrating, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and calming properties,” she said. Adaptogenic mushrooms like the ones in the Play Primer have been shown to have “high levels of viscosity that can help strengthen the walls of the vagina to increase elasticity, and their healing and calming properties relieve inflammation and irritation inside the vagina,” Hershenhorn continued. 

OK, so how does this stuff actually perform? Just as good as I’d hoped based on the ingredient list. When I worked at Chicago’s own queer, feminist sex toy store Early to Bed, we’d always recommend applying CBD lube about 15-20 minutes prior to play time in order for it to take effect. But I rarely took my own advice, and I just apply this Play Primer to my clit, vulva, and toy or my partner’s penis when I’m ready for penetration. Everything does feel more pleasurable as play time progresses, so it does take a little time to really kick in. 

As I’ve gotten older, my body feels sated with just one orgasm during a session, but with Runi’s Play Primer, I find that after that first O, there is still a pleasurable pulsation happening down below and I’m not quite satisfied. (This could be a plus or a minus depending on who you ask.) Furthermore, the partner I’ve used this with has a penis and we’ve found that Play Primer has made orgasm come easier for him. This may be a negative for some, but if you have any trouble ejaculating — from a side effect of medication, perhaps — then Play Primer may be worth trying. 

Super-powered ingredients aside, it’s a great lube in that it lasts a long time and maintains its slippery viscosity during use. It has a fairly neutral taste, but the creamy white color may turn some people off. 

Runi’s Play Primer Sex Serum closeup
Credit: Nicole Guappone

It’s got the weirdest bottle I’ve probably ever seen, and while I was skeptical of it at first, I actually really like it. It’s a little hard to squeeze, but if you’re unable to easily use a pump top bottle, it may be perfect for you. It doesn’t leak from the nozzle if you use it and then toss it on the bed, and the cap screws on tight so you can feel good about dropping it in your bag.

Hershenhorn said she wanted the packaging to be chic, portable, and comfortable — so “if it fell out in front of your friends or TSA, you wouldn’t be embarrassed. But I also wanted people to be curious about the product when they first saw it and ask themselves, ‘What is that egg?!’”

If you asked me that question, I’d answer, “only one of the best lubes I’ve ever tried!!” Runi sent me a sample free of charge, but before I even finished the bottle, I bought a 4-pack for myself so I never run out. And as a gift to Rebellious readers, Runi is gifting you 25 percent off with code REBEL25.

Go forth and discover the joy of the new power couple: CBD and shrooms.

Nicole Guappone is a freelance writer living in Chicago, previously published by Rolling Stone, Glamour, The Rumpus, The Establishment, and more. Much of her writing and research focuses on sexual health,...