I’ve been spoiled when it comes to sex toys. I’m sure you’ve all figured this out by now. I have never known the horrors of the cheap jelly rubber dildos or PVC butt plugs that most of us have to go through before understanding true quality. Aside from a couple cheap cock rings and a bullet vibrator I won in a raffle, I never owned any sex toys before I actually started selling them. So when I did, I was greeted immediately with gorgeous, rechargeable, body safe toys.
When I’m at work, I am constantly informing people of what is safe to put in their body and what isn’t. Sometimes they listen, and sometimes they don’t. As I’ve said in the past…you can lead a horse to water-based lube, but you can’t make her avoid glycerin.
Anyway, the point is, after four years in this industry, it still disturbs me how little people know about what goes in their bodies. What most don’t realize is, the FDA doesn’t monitor sex toys. At all. They don’t give a shit. So certain manufacturers will produce toys made out of totally toxic junk and get away with it, because nobody says they can’t. Hell, they can straight up lie on their packaging about what their toys are made of because no one is going to stop them.
And what’s worse? Sometimes people don’t care! “I’m on a budget,” they say. “I’ll just put a condom over it,” they say. Believe me, I totally understand the whole being-broke-and-horny thing (support my broke ass?) And yes, barriers should help prevent any infections or burny feelings from happening. But when you buy toys made of shitty materials, you are telling manufacturers that it’s totally okay to keep making their toys out of shitty materials. IT’S NOT. And now that word is spreading about the potential toxicity of the things sex toys are made out of, there are more and more toys being made that are affordable AND not shitty!
By this point, most major cities in the US have at least one respectable sex shop with well-educated staff: The Pleasure Chest, Babeland, Good Vibrations, Secret Pleasures, Lotus Blooms…just to name a few. If these stores aren’t stocked exclusively with body-safe materials, then the staff is most definitely knowledgeable enough to point you in the right direction. Listen to them.
But if you prefer to do your shopping online, or want an idea of what to look for before you begin your shopping trip, here is a quick and not-so-dirty guide on what sort of stuff your toys should be made out of.
Silicone: I’m sure you’re all sick of me going on about silicone, but seriously you guys…SILICONE! It’s soft! It’s squishy! It’s hypoallergenic! It’s non-porous! If it doesn’t have a motor built in, you can boil it and share it with a friend! When there is silicone in the world, there really is little reason to purchase a toy made of anything else, unless it is…
Glass: Borosilicate glass, to be specific, also known as Pyrex. There are some lovely blown glass items out there, and I welcome them with open orifices, but the pyrex ones are also boilable and harder to break and I heart them. Also the hand-blown ones are usually made for vaginal use and I’m SOL there.
Stainless Steel: Want a dildo or a butt plug that will live longer than you so you can bequeath it unto your grandchildren when your life comes to an end? Seriously, this stuff will last longer than you do. But that’s not even the biggest perk! Non-porous. Boilable. Virtually indestructible. Hella heavy, which is excellent on the prostate and g-spot, and you can play with temperature to make things a little edgier.
Elastomer/TPR: As I mentioned above, I usually don’t see much use for anything that’s not silicone when silicone can be had. However, there are a few situations when I would say TPR is your best option. This is particularly the case with masturbation sleeves. Silicone is squishy, but not that squishy, and would probably make an uncomfortable masturbation sleeve. For vibrating strokers like the Cobra Libre or the Hand Solo, silicone still rocks. But generally speaking, TPR is best for things to put your dick into. #TengaWHAT
Cyberskin: Same case as TPR. Great for masturbations sleeves (What up, Fleshlight!) but I wouldn’t recommend it for your insertables.
Plastic: There are some really shitty things out there that are made of plastic. But there are also some really excellent toys that area also made of plastic. If the box says ‘ABS plastic’, you’re good to go. If you’re getting an Aneros product, you’re a rock star. Their plastic is medical-grade, like the stuff they made screws out of for prosthetic limbs and whatnot, so it’s totally body-safe, and I’ve heard straight from the mouth of an Aneros representative that all of their products are safe to boil. WOOT!
WORDS TO LOOK OUT FOR:
“Phthalate-Free”: These words are generally a good thing. Phthalates are super gross, and you definitely don’t want them in your toys. However, sometimes they are simply a lie or a cover-up. I’ve seen many packages from Doc Johnson and California Exotics that are marked “Phthalate-free PVC”. First of all, as I already said, the FDA isn’t monitoring these things, so these indications are not necessarily true. And even if they are, there are plenty of other chemicals that might be hiding in the mix that the packaging isn’t telling you about. Stick with Silicone and TPR.
“Realistic”: This isn’t an official rule or anything. Just an observation I’ve made. I feel like if the packaging is pointing out to you that it’s realistic, it’s trying to cover up something else (like maybe the fact that it’s totally not realistic at all?). Vixskin dildos are the most realistic out there, and while some of their packaging indicates the toy is “realistic”, you don’t see them rubbing it in your face. Because they don’t need to. You can see it with your own eyes and feel it with your own hands.
“Sil-a-gel”: It sounds like silicone… but guess what! IT HAS ABSOLUTELY NOTHING TO DO WITH SILICONE! I ripped this quote from Epiphora, who ripped it from Doc Johnson’s Director of Product Development and Licensing: “Sil-A-Gel is an ingredient that we add to all of our PVC material during the manufacturing stage. It is not a material unto itself. It is anti-bacterial, cadmium and latex free and utilizes ingredients that are on the FDA Safe Ingredient List….that is where the SIL stands for. This was not meant to trick anybody into thinking that this was a silicone product.” LIES!
“Jelly”: Certain toy manufacturers seem to thing that consumers will find this word alluring. Like we’ll read the word and think “I shall call him Squishy and he shall be mine and he shall be my Squishy!” But no… Bad squishy indeed. To anyone who is remotely schooled in the science of sex toys, there is no bigger red flag to be found in the entire universe.
If you want the safest online shopping experience you can have, there are stores like Babeland and Peepshow Toys that only carry body-safe materials, so you won’t have to do any filtering to weed out any of the gross stuff. A lot of the top notch manufacturers like Aneros, Lelo, and Tantus are all safe across the board, allowing for stress-free sex toy shopping.
Safer sex doesn’t always involve other humans. Always be mindful of what goes in your body. Protect your sexy self!