Jul 122010

Another Formspring question here!

When looking for a new toy how do you know if it does or does not have pthalates? asked by mydnitebyte

First, a definition from Wikipedia: Phthalates, or phthalate esters, are esters of phthalic acid and are mainly used as plasticizers (substances added to plastics to increase their flexibility, transparency, durability, and longevity).1

The sex toy review community and sex-positive toy shops are all buzzing about phthalates and how bad they are for you. Phthalates are found in many plastic items that have been chemically softened. The studies going around are saying that phthalate exposure can damage all sorts of organs, and can possibly cause cancer. There are a lot of harmful things in our world these days that we can’t avoid – so when we CAN avoid something like toxins in our sex toys, we should. Not to mention, toys that contain phthalates are also porous and can harbor bacteria if not cleaned properly; they also cannot be sterilized for 100% safety against transmission of STD’s.


So how DO you know if a sex toy has phthalates in it?

1. Research your toy purchases from sites that include that sort of information.

a. At EdenFantasys, you can choose “Phthalates Free” in your search options when you’re browsing categories like vibrators, dildos, butt plugs, etc.
b. At Babeland you can purchase anything they sell and know that there are no phthalates – they won’t sell toys that contain them.
c. At Good Vibes, look for this logo on the product description page for a toy:
At SheVibe.com, every safe toy will be marked as “Phthalate-Free” in the logos underneath the description for each toy


2. Stick with materials that are known to be safe. This includes:

a. 100% pure medical-grade silicone
b. Elastomer, TPE, TPR, WTP
c. Hard plastic/acrylic
d. Glass, metal, wood, ceramic, and other natural materials

Avoid sex toys made of jelly, rubber, pvc/vinyl. While some of the “cyberskin”/UR3 and other “realistic materials” may not contain phthalates, I would personally recommend staying away from them. They’re porous, they usually have an odor, they require “powdering” (no talc!!! that’s proven to be bad for genitals) and many are painted to look even more realistic but this paint suspiciously rubs off with use/washing.

Can condoms keep you safe from phthalates?

Researchers/scientists haven’t come to a conclusive yes/no result yet, but they say it depends on numerous condom factors such as:

a. The thickness of the latex.
b. The integrity of the condom.
c. Additives in latex condoms could also influence whether phthalates pass through. For example Nonoxynol-9, which used to be used as a spermicide in condoms, could actually increase the risk of phthalate exposure (Nonoxynol-9 is no longer commonly used on condoms or personal lubricants though).
d. The personal lubricant in pre-lubricated condoms could (but doesn’t necessarily) facilitate the leaching phthalates out of a sex toy.2

One thing that I wasn’t able to find in my searches is this: Since the FDA isn’t regulating the sex toy industry, could a company claim that a toy is phthalate-free if it’s made out of a blend or cyberskin & its comrades? Since I can’t find an answer on that – and given that the iffy toys are kinda gross to begin with, what with their chemical odor – my recommendation is to just avoid the stuff altogether. Spend the extra $10-20 on a known-as-safe toy material and you’ll get a longer toy life and the peace of mind that your toys are safe.



1 – Definition of phthalates from Wikipedia
2 – Phthalates and condoms fom About.com:Sexuality

  • Dick

    Good, quality information! Thanks Lilly!

  • http://www.nitebyrdsnest.blogspot.com nitebyrd

    I would have loved to have had this very easy to understand response when I was selling sex-toys. This is really excellent information, Lilly. Thanks!

  • Meg

    Why are phthalates bad/dangerous/undesirable?

    ~ The explanation is best found here: http://sexuality.about.com/od/sextoys/a/phthalates_sex.htm and the links within. Basically they can be bad for your body and might possibly harm your reproductive organs or even cause cancer. since they leach out of sex toys made of the “bad materials”, during use, thats how they get in our bodies.

  • Meg

    Wow… I had no idea. Thanks for explaining and informing me!