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Best condoms in the UK: Choose the ideal condom for feeling, safety and more satisfying sex

Alix Fox
16 Nov 2021

Confused about how to make the right selection when it comes to protection? Expert Reviews has got you covered

Forget posh pyjamas and silky slips: condoms are the best bed wear out there. They’re the only form of contraception to help protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs), including HIV.

Going by recent reports, it always pays to be safe. Public Health England revealed a 20% rise in syphilis diagnoses in the last year, and the World Health Organisation is warning of increases in the occurrence of antibiotic-resistant strains of gonorrhoea that can be worryingly tricky to treat. If you want to look after the health of you and your partner, the best advice is to treat the penis just like any present: wrap it up before you give it to anyone.

If used correctly and consistently, condoms are also 98% effective at preventing unplanned pregnancy, so they offer an effective hormone-free form of birth control.

But in order for them to perform optimally – and be a comfortable complement to sex, rather than an irritating intrusion – it’s essential to both choose and use them properly.

How to buy condoms that suit you and your partner’s needs

What features do I need to consider and why?

1. Size and shape

Whilst condoms are designed to s-t-r-e-t-c-h, standard sizes can feel uncomfortably restrictive on larger penises, as well as being harder to roll on smoothly and more likely to burst or tear if under strain.

On the flip side, put a standard condom on a penis that’s more slim ‘n’ trim, and it may well slip off – which not only stops it doing its job but can dent body confidence to boot. Some guys also find a snugger fit helps them last longer.

Condoms come in different shapes, to suit different bodies and tastes. While classic straight-shafted styles are straight-up great for many guys, others prefer contoured designs that are wider over the glans to give extra headroom, whilst some men who are built bigger at their bases prefer varieties that taper towards the tip to hug it more securely.

Most condoms have a reservoir at the end to neatly catch semen and ensure there is sufficient space for it to be safely held inside, but a few don’t since some folks prefer the feel.

2. Materials and ingredients

Vegans might be surprised to learn that most latex condoms contain animal products: the milk protein casein is added as a stabiliser to give them an even texture. This may cause reactions in people with extreme sensitivities to dairy, as well.

If you or your lover are allergic to latex, you won’t want a condom made of natural rubber - or your night could quickly go from ‘red hot’ to ‘red, hot, and itching’. If you’re sensitive to certain chemicals found in spermicides or lubricants, you’ll need to avoid those, whilst people prone to yeast infections might want to swerve flavoured condoms that have glycerine or sweeteners in the mix, as some find these can trigger thrush.

The thinness, pliability and ability to conduct body heat of whatever material a condom is made of effects how it feels when you’re doing the do, too. And if that traditional rubbery scent makes you retch, low-odour varieties are out there.

3. Added extras

Textures for additional stimulation. Mild anaesthetics to increase erectile duration. Juicy flavours to make saucy behaviours even tastier. Cooling, warming or tingling coatings to enliven your senses.

It’s a myth that condoms are ‘necessary evils’ that always compromise satisfaction for the sake of safety. Pick the right products, and they can bring added benefits to the bedroom.

4. The type of sex you intend to have

If you’re planning to have anal sex, it’s useful to know that standard strength condoms – used properly and with plenty of lube – are just as reliable as thicker varieties. However, some people prefer a more heavy duty condom for reassurance of hygiene and the durability to withstand extra friction.

Alternatively, you might intend to use condoms to cover sex toys, either to protect against STI transmission if you and your partner are taking turns to use the same vibrator (sheath it in a fresh condom every time you swap), or to keep things clean during menstruation or anal play. You’ll need the condom to be large enough to cover all the nobbles and bobbles of your gadgets and gizmos and to ensure that any lubricant it comes ready-slicked with is compatible with the material the toy is made from.

5. Ethics and aesthetics

Care about being decent to the environment and other human beings while being deliciously indecent in the boudoir? Then you might want to consider whether the condom brand you’re buying is fairly traded, or made from rubber harvested from sustainable forests. Certain companies support charities; for example, for every condom they sell, Sir Richards donates another to a developing country in need, whilst Sustain give 10% of their profits to women’s healthcare organisations and invest in education and wellness programmes for their latex farming communities.

When it comes to setting the mood, classy condom packaging like Hanx can help give a sense of sophistication, whilst the myriad vibrant, eye-catching and humorous graphics on ONE’s Mixed Pleasures range act as useful conversation starters to broach the subject of protection.

The best condoms to buy

The following condoms get the Expert Reviews thumbs up for using on your down-below, but because bodies and preferences are so subjective, and there are so many factors to consider, you’ll probably find you need to try a handful of prophylactics before settling on a favourite. Sites like sell individual condoms for a few pence each, making it much cheaper to sample several sorts before committing to buying a full box.

My.Size: The best condoms for getting the perfect fit

Standard condoms in the UK have a nominal width of around 52-54mm, which can be too tight for girthier guys. MySize 69 have the largest circumference of any UK brand, at – you guessed it – 69mm, plus the brand make a whole spectrum of sizes ranging from 47mm, so whether your personal proportions are modest or mighty, you can find a condom that feels like a custom fit. There’s even an app you can download on their site that lets you measure your manhood using your mobile.

Key specs – Width: 47-69mm; Length: 180mm; Thickness: 0.07mm

SKYN Large: A big option for larger customers

Skyn's super-sized condoms also get great reports from those who need a larger latex-free product. Not sure which size is right for you? Then check out Skyn's handy guide by clicking here.

Key specs – Width: 56mm; Length: 190mm; Thickness: 0.07mm

ESP Tight Pleasures: The best for a tighter fit

ESP's Tight Pleasures do exactly what they say on the tin. These condoms offer a narrower 49mm width that’s cleverly marketed as being about sensation rather than size for those who may be self-conscious about their down-there dimensions.

That said, the marketing spiel also suggests that more normal-sized users who are struggling to orgasm may also have something to benefit from ESP's tighter fit.

Key specs – Width: 49mm; Length: 170mm; Thickness: 0.07mm

ONE Pleasure Dome: The perfect condom for big-headed buyers

The Pleasure Dome is extra roomy around the glans for guys who find straight-shaped condoms give them a ‘headache’. The same manufacturer recently purchased British company TheyFit condoms, who used to make condoms in 66 different length and width combos, designed to feel ‘tailor-made’.

The range has been successfully relaunched in the USA under the name MyONE Perfect Fit and is due to hit UK shores later this year. Click the link above if you want to find out more.

Key specs – Width: 52mm (72mm at head); Length: 180mm; Thickness: 0.07mm

Find out more about MyONE here

Best condoms for allergies (and vegans)

Polyisoprene is a modern synthetic material that’s stretchy and soft, and a good conductor of body heat – without any rubber to rub you the wrong way if you’re allergic. As a bonus, polyisoprene condoms are vegan and tend to have less of an odour than their latex cousins.

The entire SKYN range is made from polyisoprene, as are Durex RealFeel condoms (these are usually excellent quality, although a handful of specific batches of these were recently recalled after failing Durex’s stringent shelf-life durability tests).

Rilaco Joy Dry: Unlubricated, German-made condoms

If the lubricants that standard condoms come ready-coated with don’t agree with your skin, try German-made unlubricated Rilaco Joy Dry. These latex condoms are a standard size and length, but let you choose which type of lube you like best.

Key specs – Width: 52mm; Length: 180mm; Thickness: 0.07mm

Trojan ENZ Non-lubricated: Reliable big-brand condoms

Trojan's unlubricated condom is another standard-sized latex condom. Just remember that less lubrication = more friction = more chance of breakage, so you may wish to add some slippery stuff with a mild formula that you know your body gets along with.

Key specs – Width: 51mm; Length: 190mm; Thickness: 0.07mm

Glyde: Best vegan condoms

These use a thistle extract in place of milk-derived casein in their rubber processing procedure and add only vegan colours and flavourings. Along with Fair Squared, they’re one of the few condom companies registered with the Vegan Society.

Key specs – Width: 53mm; Length: 180mm; Thickness: 0.7mm

Image of Glyde Ultra 10 Vegan Condoms

Glyde Ultra 10 Vegan Condoms

£11.41 (£1.14 / count) Buy now

Best flavoured condoms

Skins Black Choc: Best chocolate flavoured condom

The Black Choc put the ‘willy’ in ‘Willy Wonka’. Not only do they taste of chocolate, but their black hue makes them popular with fans of S&M since they help your parts look the all-black part.

Key specs – Width: 52mm; Length: 190mm; Thickness: 0.065mm

ONE Flavor Waves: For a veritable taste explosion

This multi-pack offer tempting tastes including Banana Split, Bubblegum, Mint Choc and Chocolate-covered Strawberry, which you can smell as soon as you open the foil – they pack a (tropical rum) punch.

Key specs – Width: 53mm; Length: 193mm; Thickness: Not stated

Buy now from Superdrug

Pasante Blueberry Blast: Mmm, Blueberry pie

Pasante’s budget option still gets sweet reviews, and it’s also available as a dental dam: a thin sheet of latex that’s placed over the vulva or anus to provide protection during oral sex or rimming.

Key specs – Width: 53mm; Length: 190mm; Thickness: 0.07mm

Best for sensitivity, sensation and stimulation

Trojan BareSkin: Barely-there protection

Condom companies are perpetually trying to design products that feel as though you’re not wearing them at all. It’s a tough trick to pull off, but the BareSkin will make you think you already have.

Key specs – Width: 53mm; Length: 180mm; Thickness: 0.05mm

Buy now from LoveHoney

Durex Invisible: Now you see it...

Durex’s Invisible also give it a good shot. The latter are Durex’s finest ever latex sheath, with about the same thickness as the average human hair, but are still resilient enough to avoid any hairy situations with breakages.

Key specs – Width: 48mm; Length: 190mm; Thickness: 0.05mm

Trojan Twisted Pleasures: Trojan's textured option for mutual satisfaction

If the texture is your turn-on, try Trojan’s Twisted Pleasures. They have a raised double spiral pattern and a host of good reviews.

Key specs – Width: 52mm; Length: 190mm; Thickness: 0.07mm

Buy now from LoveHoney

ONE Tattoo Touch: Don't fancy getting a penis tattoo? Well...

Sadly you can't buy these in specific multipacks, but shell out for ONE's Mixed Pleasures pack and you'll get a selection of flavoured, ribbed, and
The Tattoo Touch are ribbed and textured with ink-inspired designs.

Key specs – Width: 56mm (base), 52mm (middle), 62mm (head); Length: 191mm; Thickness: 0.075mm

Buy now from Superdrug

Durex Mutual Climax: Long-lasting and stimulating

If you need a helping hand to make intercourse last longer, reach for a pack of these. They have a special ‘Performa’ lubricant inside containing 5% Benzocaine - a mild numbing agent to make sex feel less overwhelming for men - as well as ribs and dots on the outside to help stimulate the wearer’s partner.

Key specs – Width: 56mm(base), 63mm (head); Length: 195mm; Thickness: 0.07mm

Boys Own: Best for anal sex

Specially designed for and marketed to the gay community, this is one of a frankly disappointingly small number of products specifically checked and approved as being suitable for anal use (although as previously mentioned, studies have shown most condoms are up to the job if used conscientiously).

Key specs – Width: 54mm; Length: 190mm; Thickness: 0.07mm

Pasante Femidom: Not just for the ladies

Some people find femidoms – also known as ‘female condoms’ or ‘internal condoms’ – like those made by Pasante to be great for anal sex. It’s necessary to remove the inner ring that usually sits over the cervix, but bear in mind that they haven’t been tested for this purpose so you may not find them as reassuring as more conventional options.

Key specs – Width: 53mm; Length: 180mm; Thickness: 0.7mm

HANX: Fairtrade, vegan condoms designed 'for women, by women'

Hanx is a young female-founded company who make vegan, fair trade, low-odour fine latex condoms designed ‘for women, by women’ (a gynaecologist and a banker, no less). They’re packaged in luxurious-looking envelopes intended to make people feel more confident about carrying them in bags and keeping them on bathroom shelves, and offer a subscription service so you can get a regular parcel of prophylactics delivered to your home.

Key specs – Width: 53mm; Length: 180mm; Thickness: 0.7mm

Wingman: Most innovative condom

Every Wingman condom comes fitted with a unique design-award-winning winged clip that allows it to be easily and accurately rolled on using just one hand, in the dark, in seconds. Excellent for those who find getting ‘suited up’ an awkward faff, or people with arthritic hands or disabilities.

Key specs – Width: 53mm; Length: 180mm; Thickness: 0.7mm

LUWI: A super soft femidom

Femidoms – affectionately known as ‘vagina liners’ - take some getting used to, but their advantages include the fact that women can fit them up to eight hours before they plan to have sex, and they offer enhanced protection against STIs when used correctly thanks to their ability to cover a greater area of skin. LUWI are made of soft polyurethane rather than more old-school nitrile, which some find too plastic-y.

Buy now from LUWI

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