What I’ve learned about buying sex toys – so far
I’ve discovered that when it comes to dildos, I’m much more selective than I am with vibrators. Because I use vibes externally (9 times out of 10), I’ll pretty much give anything buzzy a go, but dildos are a different matter entirely, because I put them in me.
I never used to be picky, and I’ve used PVC, TPE, and other jellified monstrosities in the past that have probably poisoned me from the inside out, and mutated my cells into the Anti-Christ. In fact, one did poison me recently, and the reaction I had from it has changed my ‘it’s never happened to me so what the hell’ attitude to a slightly embarrassed ‘why didn’t I just listen to the people who know’ one.
Nowadays I won’t insert anything not made from genuine body safe materials into any of my orifices, but that doesn’t mean I have less options to choose from. Silicone, metal, glass, stone, wood and ceramic are all on the menu, as is ABS plastic, though I can’t think of any dildos made from that.
These materials are considered body safe because they’re completely non-porous. That makes them simple to clean, whether you use soapy water and sex toy cleaners, or if you’re one for going the whole hog with boiling or 10% bleach solutions. As you probably know, thorough cleaning and disinfecting is essential with any sex toys, because lingering body fluids turn nasty and provide perfect breeding grounds for bacteria and mould, which leads to all kinds of infections, and even diseases if you’re a toy sharer.
Another reason I choose the above mentioned materials is that none of them contain phthalates. I had no idea what that even meant until recently, and though I’ve only scratched the surface regarding these toxic nasties, I’ve learned enough about them to know I want less of them inside me.
They’re not just in sex toys, though, they’re everywhere. In my shampoo, my deodorant, the sprays I clean the bath and kitchen benches with… they even leach from plastic bottles and cartons, right into the food and drink that I ingest. I figure that, as my everyday life has more than enough of these health hazardous little bastards in it, I don’t need them in my little luxuries, so I’ve done a good job at making my sex toy cupboard a safe and poison free place. I’m even looking a little closer at the ingredients on my cosmetics too.
The thing that prompted me to write this post is, I had a mini-spat with a friend recently, and she surprised me with her lack of knowledge about body safe materials. I say she surprised me not because I’m a know-it-all who thinks her friends should know-it-all too, but because I’ve told her the craic on more than one occasion, and she obviously hadn’t heard a word I’d said. She insisted that silicone was the material to avoid, and after I corrected her error, she insisted that her jelly butt plug was indeed silicone, and therefore fine to not just use, but to share with her partner.
I hang my head in shame here, because I didn’t dig my heels in and tell her she was wrong. I agreed to disagree, because I didn’t want to fight over a £6.99 fucking butt plug. But I know I should have acted like my usual bull-headed self and stood my ground, because she was wrong, and the more people who are educated about sex toy safety, the less shit shops will want to stock, and the more manufacturers will take notice and start producing safer stuff.
That’s not to say body safe materials aren’t already prolific. They are, and it’s easy to source reasonably priced options too. There are a good few shops I use that sell good quality silicone dildos for as little £15, and manufacturer stores like Tantus make excellent stuff which sell for decent prices.
Some unscrupulous manufacturers do claim a toy is silicone when it isn’t, and some state their products are made from a silicone mix, which is mostly bollocks. These toys are usually rubber, and I personally avoid them. I look to well-known brands like Tantus for my silicone dildos, or if I’m buying store branded stuff I make sure it’s a store I know and trust to tell me the truth.
Another body safe material that I love is glass, but it’s had a lot of bad press in recent months. Again, it’s down to crooked companies who build their brand around cheap imported glass, and use their swanky web designs and fancy flattery to prey on vulnerable people who don’t know better.
This has knocked glass’ reputation a little bit, and I know a couple of people who no longer have any trust in glass sex toys. They worry that their dildos are breakable, and for good reason, as some have actually broken. As I understand it, it happened during cleaning, but that is very much not the point. No sex toy should cause a health hazard, and companies who have made a known body safe material scary and dangerous for their own monetary (and pervatory) gain piss me off.
But despair not! There are many companies out there who offer quality glass products, and they can be found for as little as £10 if you shop smart.
As amazing as it can be, ceramic is a material to be cautious with. It has many of the qualities of glass, and I find it retains heat better, but you must get your products from a reliable source. It’s all about the glaze with ceramics. If they’re not glazed properly, they’re porous, and harmful bacteria and mould spores will happily infest your toys.
Another reason to show caution with ceramic, is its fragility. Most of my glass toys have taken a whack on hard surfaces and have lived to tell the tale, but one of my ceramic dildos has chipped. It’s on the base and nowhere near any insertable parts so it’s not the end of the world, but it was a mere knock against a hard cased vibrator that caused it, so that goes to show just how fragile ceramics really are.
They do cost a bit more than glass *in general* and if you buy from an artisan you’ll pay through the nose, but mass produced ceramic dildos can be found going cheap in sales quite regularly. If you come across one, I would definitely recommend giving it a go.
If you can’t get past the glass/ceramic/smash issue, an excellent alternative is metal. Stainless steel and aluminium toys are easy to come by, but they can be expensive. They have all of the benefits of glass and ceramic, without the risk of breakage. Well, there is a risk of breakage to your toes if you happen to drop a steel dildo on your foot, so my advice would be, don’t do that.
One of the most widely known makers of steel dildos is nJoy. I only have one of their products, but it’s outstanding and I freely admit that I covet pretty much half of their range. The reason I don’t have half of their range is, they’re expensive!
But I also have steel dildos/plugs from a couple of other brands too, and though they don’t have the luxe of the nJoy stuff, they’re very good quality and were reasonably priced. Steel toys can be whacked in a pan on the hob and boiled, so sterilisation is easy as pie.
As mentioned above, wood and stone dildos are also available, and if they’re good quality, they’re body safe. I don’t have anything made from these materials though, so I can’t offer any personal insights as to their use or care, but I can tell you that I have my eye on some non-porous stone and well-sealed wooden dildos, which I’m sure I’ll have in my clutches eventually, and when I do, I’ll be sure to update this post.
**UPDATE COMING SOON!**