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Sex Toy Materials 101

Go into any high street sex shop and you’re greeted by stacks of shelves presenting you with boxes of different shaped vibrators. The choice is endless. Yay 21st century!

The world is becoming more and 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 toys to choose from. It’s almost as common as shopping for a sexy pair of high heels, but do you really know what you’re buying? Please allow us to geek out for a minute here. Your health and pleasure are important to us, so make yourself a cuppa and keep scrolling.

Lets start with the boring process of learning about the typical materials used in today’s sex toy industry.

Quick Summary:

When selecting a sex toy, I would advise to pick one that is non-porous and phthalate free.  Phthalate 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.  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 buy any toys that are made from Jelly or Latex and I try to avoid rubber and PVC.

Silicone

(Medically and food graded)

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 discoloured toys, or even toys that have started to degrade or melt. Note that superior  quality silicone products usually have a protection within them to prevent this.
 
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 downside 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 Lelo.

Jelly

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 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 in order to keep your toy cleaner and avoid any cross contamination.
 

Personally, I am not a fan of jelly toys but it wasn’t until I started reviewing sex toys that I became aware of the health and safety issues that jelly products can cause. While it’s not life threatening, jelly just isn’t a good choice of materials to use in my opinion. 

PVC/Plastic/TPR/TPE/ABS

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.  Basically 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. I personally feel that you can tell the difference between a cheaply made TPR/TPE product and a decent quality version. 

Latex and rubber

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 its 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.

Ultraskin

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.

Glass and Stone

Glass/Stone products are hypoallergenic and durable. You really can’t beat them for their hygiene and high quality.  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 materials. They are brilliant for hot/cold play, just leave a glass dildo in a bowl of warm water for a few minutes and it will give you that warm tingly feeling. 

As for stone products, these aren’t as widely available as glass and do tend to cost a pretty penny but if you like sensory play, these are the two kinds of toys that you would have no problems adding to your collection. 

If you’re still awake, then congratulations! As you can see, choosing the right sex toy can make all the difference when it comes to self pleasure. Have fun!

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