Rushing in from the mid summer heat into an air conditioned shop front, I really wasn’t prepared for what was about to greet me.
A friend had given me an address, he said it was the perfect place to go by myself a ‘rampant rabbit’. I was thinking that I’d be entering a dark and secluded shoe box, how wrong could I have been! Walking into a sex shop that resembled my local Sainsburys, was not something I was really expecting when I took a summer trip to Germany with some friends at the tender age of 17. But it was an experience I relished in.
There were stacks of shelves presenting me with boxes of different shaped vibrators. If you weren’t concentrating enough, you could have mistaken them for some sort of deluded barbie go wild! But there were so many choices ahead of me, choices that I had no clue about. 13yrs on, I am slightly more clued up and aware of what toys and products should be avoided and those that would suit your every certain needs.
Fast forward to 2019 and the world is more accepting of the adult product market. With shops such as Anne Summers, Coco de Mer and Sh! Women’s Emporium, gracing our streets in the UK, we have an abundance of sex toy choices, it’s as common as shopping for a sexy pair of high heels.
So lets start with the boring process of learning about the typical materials used in today’s sex toy industry;
* Silicone – medically and food graded
There are a few other types, a combination of the above and a few well known companies have their own patented materials, other companies use a dual density with their products.
When selecting a sex toy, I would advise to pick one that is non-porous and phthalates free. Phthalates is a chemical used in materials to harden or soften a product, unfortunately it is also a chemical that can seep out of a sex toy and cause reactions to your body. A porous product is something that has holes/pores in it, making it a product that is not hypoallergenic. Always select products that are granted as ‘body safe’ – phthalates free, non-porous and latex free.
The current market is leaning towards more pure materials, instead of mixing (silicone, stone, glass). Now, I’m no expert with materials but I can safely say that I no longer home any toys that are made from Jelly, Latex and I try to avoid rubber and PVC but that is my personal opinion.
Please do excuse me for the lack of correct terminology throughout this article, I wasn’t the best student in school sciences. Well, unless it was biology!
Who Knew Toys Could Be So Scientific?
Silicone tends to have a reaction, with other silicone products. If you place them together without protection between them, you may come back to find a couple of dis-colored toys, even toys that have started to degrade or melt. However, a better quality silicone product will usually have a protection within it to stop this happening.
As 100% silicone is a hypoallergenic material, it seems to be one of the most popular choices when it comes to producing sex toys and it also means those with certain allergies can have fun whilst avoiding an allergic reaction, leaving you with a 100% body safe toy.
Silicone is a non-porous product (meaning it doesn’t have pores/holes in it, making it hygienic and easy to clean), it also has the big advantage of retaining body temperature, making it friction-free and easier to use. The only down side is that 100% silicone tends to be a bit pricier than other materials.
If you want to check out what’s good in the silicone world, then have a look at companies such as Babes-n-Horny, Tantus and LELO. Although those 3 mentioned are direct companies, you can purchase good quality products from retailers such as Ododi.com.
Moving onto Jelly toys;
They are much cheaper to manufacture, basically a cheaper all rounder. They are made from a non-toxic vinyl rubber and are squishy and firm(ish) in texture. Unfortunately, as jelly is a porous material, it really isn’t hygienic and is harder jelly to keep clean. You are best off using a water-based or silicone based lubricant, avoid oil based lubes though as oil-based will eventually degrade the jelly material.
I would recommend that you use a condom with jelly toys that you are using to insert, so that you can keep your sex toy cleaner and that it avoids any cross contamination, which in the long run will allow your toy to last longer.
Personally, I am not a fan of jelly toys. It wasn’t until I started reviewing sex toys, that I became aware of the health and some safety issues that jelly products can cause.
It’s not life threatening, jelly just isn’t a good choice of materials to use in my opinion.Rubber and Latex toys are on the cheaper scale for manufacturing, unfortunately they are not hypoallergenic and therefore a lot of people do have reactions to them. Their life expectancy is not that long and they tend to have an off putting smell that lingers. Again, like jelly, latex and rubber are porous materials.
When purchasing a toy, please do have a read of it’s ingredients, as sometimes you may find that a few products can have latex mixed in with the materials used. It’s always good when a company puts on their product boxes what a product includes. For example you may find a product with ‘non-porous, hypoallergenic and latex free’ written in the small print.
Now, moving on to something a little bit special – Ultraskin – like marmite, you either love it or you hate it. This material is a mixture of plastic and silicone but be sure to look for a high quality product and not the cheap versions, you really will feel the difference. Ultraskin comes under many names, a few being UR3 and cyberskin. This material mimics a real feel and look on a penis, with the added friction.
Unfortunately it is porous but the higher quality products will have a longer life expectancy, you should use a condom with this material, just to ensure you keep it as clean as possible. Do not use silicone based lubes with this material, it will ruin your toy. To spritz up an Ultraskin product, keep it clean and rub some fine talc powder over the exterior.
I would personally recommend Tantus for their products in this range, such as their Ultra-premium silicone O2 Luke and Max.
Tantus are producing products made from ultra-premium dual density material. this is basically 2 layers, the outside layer of soft feeling silicone and a dense inner layer. This gives the user a realistic feel, I’ve personally tested this material and I can safely say, it really does feel like the real thing.
Plastic products have a very short life span but are much easier to look after. They are non-porous, decently priced and can be used with oil, silicone and water based lubes. The hardened exterior of plastic, can make a sex toy’s vibrations a lot more intense.
You may have seen the letter coding TPR or TPE on some products, these are thermoplastics elastomer or rubber. Which are a mixture of plastics and rubber to form a material that is easier to mold. I don’t really have an issue with this material but it does feel and look cheap and tacky, personally if you are going to purchase a toy, I would go for one of good quality and has a longer life expectancy. Doc Johnson is a company that has a high selection of TPR/TPE products, I personally feel that you can tell the difference between a cheaply made TPR/TPE product and a decent quality version. However, this version of material is not one of my favorites as it can be very hit/miss.
Glass/Stone products are hypoallergenic, you really can’t beat them for their hygiene and high quality either. They are non-porous, have no phthalates and are slowly becoming very popular within the sex toy market. You can use any type of sexual lubricant with these 2 materials. And on a plus side, they are brilliant forsebs5y Sex Toys Material 101 hot/cold play, leave a glass dildo in a bowl of warm water for a few minutes and it will give you that warm tingly feeling, the same goes for placing it in a bowl of cold water or even the fridge and hey presto, you’ll have your partner chomping at the bit.
I do like the glass products that are sold by Doc Johnson and Pipedreams, again these are widely sold throughout Europe, the UK and the USA. As for stone products, these aren’t as widely sold as glass and do tend to cost a pretty penny but if you like sensory play, then these are the 2 kinds of toys that you would have no problems adding to your collection. Pleasure in Stone are producing stone dildos that can only be explained as simply beautiful.
If you’re still awake, then congratulations………………you can consider yourself more ‘sex toy aware’ than you were 5 minutes ago.
Choosing the right toy with a quality material can make all the difference when being intimate with one’s self. Hopefully with future articles and reviews, I can help you to expand on this knowledge and help you make a more educated decision, when it comes to purchasing your next sex toy.
And you thought buying a sex toy was easy as 1,2,3!