Mar 232016
 

Sex toys and condoms - Should you really cover your sex toy with a condom? Shown are 3 dildos with condom wrappers, one of the dildos is a clear, red jelly dildo covered in a condomFor as long as I’ve known about porous and toxic sex toys I’ve heard the old “cover it with a condom and you’re fine” mantra1. It’s an oft-used phrase to make buying a toxic or porous toy seem more “safe” than it is and I am starting to get really cranky about how easily this is bandied about. I can understand how someone came up with this idea – a condom is a great barrier against STI’s and pregnancy, so shouldn’t it work in this situation? Well, that depends on a number of factors, like the situation and the condom material. It’s true, not all condoms are created equal for these purposes – and bad news: the condoms that are right for these situations are probably not the condoms you already have in your drawer. So if you’re going to use, or recommend to others the use of, a condom on a sex toy please make sure that it’s the right condom otherwise you’ll end up with sad toys or mad genitals. At the end of the day I’d really like to see this band-aid “solution” recommended a lot less, but I think that most educators and reviewers say it as a last-ditch attempt to keep others safe; those who insist on using porous sex toys. We want you to be safe and would rather you avoid porous insertable sex toys2 but we know that some of you are going to use these materials anyway.

A note for those new around here: I talk about toxic and porous toys separately. Not all porous toys are toxic. TPR/TPE is non-toxic, but still porous and still breaks down and sweats oil.

Using A Condom to Protect Yourself from Toxic Chemicals

Absolutely no research has been done to prove that this is true. Of course, no official research as been done to prove it’s not true, either. I’ve heard from numerous people that they still experienced a burning sensation despite covering a toxic sex toy with a condom. One person confirmed that the condoms they’d tried were latex and polyisoprene and they still felt the burn; neither of those condom types play well with oil. Why does that matter? All porous sex toys have oils in them. This jar is proof of that! When the toys sweat/break down, even just a little, there’s a constant sheen of oil on them. This oil will render latex condoms so porous that it’s useless against the fight. You might be able to succeed with using polyurethane condoms or nitrile condoms but again this is a theory and not proven. Polyurethane and nitrile are safe with oils but I don’t know if they’re a barrier against the toxic chemicals in some sex toys. If you’re going to take the risk on sil-a-gel, sex toys with phthalates, “jelly” sex toys and more, at least use the right condom to have a shot at this theory working. 

For the photos I put a Trojan Magnum condom on this disgusting jelly dildo3 I have; I left it on there for maybe 5 minutes while I took some photos. Then I decided to try and cover the whole sex toy with the latex condom – after all they’re stretchy enough to cover a large fist and go up to the elbow, surely it could cover the whole jelly dildo, right? Wrong. The condom broke about 30 seconds after this pic was snapped when I tried to stretch it a little farther – the ring came off and the condom tore lengthwise a little. Then I put a Magnum over the Tantus dildo in the photo and was able to stretch it over the balls, the base and have more room leftover to theoretically tie it off like a balloon if I had more nimble fingers – Also, I was very careful with the condoms when stretching them over the dildos, but then I stopped being careful with the condom over the silicone Tantus. I stretched it out more at the opening, and even held the dildo up by the part of the condom I was grasping in my fingers in the photo. The condom that spent a little time on the oily dildo tore easily. The condom over the silicone dildo remained tough and intact.

Photo shows a latex condom stretched over the whole red jelly dildo, including base and balls  Photo shows a discarded condom with the base ring torn off laying next to a large purple silicone dildo that has been covered entirely in a condom, from tip to base  Photo shows me pulling a condom entirely over the base of a large purple Tantus dildo, able to twist excess condom tightly as if to tie it off like a balloon.

tl;dr: No latex condoms. Only polyurethane or nitrile. Or just stop buying potentially toxic materials, and if you must must must buy cheap porous toys, then buy TPE/TPR if you can’t have silicone. I mean I’d rather you avoid all porous materials but I realize I can’t have it all.

Using a Condom to Extend the Life4 of Porous Sex Toys

Again we have the wrong-condom issue: most condoms that people buy are the kind that are useless in the face of any oils5; but to really protect the toy (and yourself) you would have to cover the entirety of the sex toy to really really be safe. Even if you cover most of the dildo, part of it is still quite likely to get into contact with your bodily fluids and could retain bacteria, etc. These microorganisms would spread inside the porous material, past the surface. Remember, with a porous sex toy you can really only clean the very surface. You would have to probably use two condoms, one over each end, overlapping a lot, to really be sure. But that’s 2 polyurethane condoms a pop – the best price I can find on Amazon has them at $1.58 each.  That’s $3.16 per use if you’re going to really make it worth the effort.  So unless the item you want simply cannot be had at all in silicone…I don’t see why you’d save money by buying a porous toy and then pour money in a slow trickle down the drain with condoms. Having never used polyurethane condoms, I don’t know if they’re as stretchy as latex condoms. I was able to get a Magnum condom to cover the entirety of the Tantus dildo in the photos and maybe even leave enough room to tie it off like a balloon (if I had more nimble fingers), so if your sex toy has no balls, you could use one condom in this manner, for money-saving purposes.

Edited to Add: The morning after writing this I decided to locate one of the TPR toys I bought for testing purposes. Unlike the red jelly dildo above, this TPR toy didn’t feel greasy to my fingers. It’s a pretty firm TPR, too. I put the latex condom on, first rolled it all the way down to the bottom and then rolled it up just partway to show that it wasn’t baggy on there, it was snug. I rolled it back down just a little bit closed to the handle, maybe another inch, and left it alone. Then I walked away for a little while (an hour at most? I kinda forgot about it while I responded to an irritating email and then made coffee) and came back. I tried to roll the condom the rest of the way down to see if I could tell a difference between the latex actually on the toy vs the latex that wasn’t touching the toy because it wasn’t fully unrolled. The condom promptly tore. You can see how the condom looks more “roomy”, like a bag, and retained some weird texturing from the dildo. 

4 images show a latex condom rolled over a pink, translucent vibrator made of TPR. In 2 photos the condom is snug fitting and intact, and in 2 other photos the condom has torn while part of the condom remains on the dildo

Making it Easier to Keep a Somewhat-Porous Sex Toy Free of Stains

One of the few instances that I can get behind the “throw a condom on it” mantra on is for things like the Magic Wand Original and similarly-made wands. The material is still kinda porous, but doesn’t seem to be as porous as the soft materials (the more softening agent that is added, the more porous a toy becomes and the more likely you’re going to see telltale signs of hitchhikers. Also I’ve never seen a Magic Wand head deteriorate like most porous toys), but the Magic Wand WILL stain if you’re bleeding and the leather-like texture makes cleaning difficult. In these particular cases, since these wand heads aren’t chemically unstable and sweating oils, latex or polyisoprene will be okay.

tl;dr: No latex condoms. Only polyurethane or nitrile on porous toys. Better yet, stick with non-porous materials like silicone, glass, and metal and never worry again!

Using a Condom on Non-Porous Toys

The only times I really think it’s necessary at all to use a condom on a non-porous sex toy is when you want to use a sex toy both anally and vaginally in the same session but don’t have the means / ability to properly sanitize in between uses OR if you’re in a situation where sex toys are being shared about the room with people you aren’t fluid-bonded with. Or if you’re bleeding and just don’t want to deal with the extra hassle of blood on your vibrators buttons, you could put a non-lubed condom over the handle. 

In these situations, especially if you’re putting the condom on silicone sex toys, I highly highly recommend buying non-lubricated condoms. I didn’t know this until recently but the vast majority of condoms are lubricated with silicone lube. We don’t know what kind, so I’d not recommend combining it with a silicone sex toy. Some high quality silicone lubes are fine with high quality silicone sex toys (like Tantus and Pjur are said to be best buds), but there are a bunch of different types of silicone that can be used in a lube, and most are used in a combination, so I don’t know which condoms would be considered safe with high quality sex toys – condom makers almost never tell you the ingredients of the lube on their condoms. There are some condoms that are rumored to use water-based lube, but I suspect most (if not all) would contain ingredients that are best avoided by most people. Also, there are lists I’ve seen claiming so-and-so’s particular condom uses a water-based lube but they got their info from the manufacturers, and I don’t know how long ago this was – formulas can change and I can’t get confirmation from the manufacturer’s websites.  So again, I’m back to recommending non-lubricated condoms.

I’ve seen it recommended occasionally that you should always use a condom on your sex toy, even if it’s non-porous, being used in a single hole by a single person with no current infections – i.e. best-case situation. I can totally understand wanting a condom for anal use for easier clean-up, but I’m less convinced of the need for vaginal use, personally. There are quick, easy, and cheap ways to clean or sanitize your sex toys if they are made from a non-porous material. But if it makes you feel better, if you cannot possibly stand the thought of using them without, then go right ahead but again….non-lubricated condoms, please. You can buy them singularly for 50 cents each at SheVibe, by the 100 at Amazon (Atlas Brand) or a value pack at Amazon of Trojan Enz.

tl:dr: non-lubricated condoms!

Unfortunately, I have not been able to find a non-lubricated non-latex condom. If you have latex allergies I don’t know what to tell you here; the non-latex condoms all have silicone lube in them. I suppose you could try to rinse out the silicone lube but that seems unlikely, since silicone repels water.

 

  1. myth?
  2. Porous penetratable sex toys are kinda unavoidable for the most part and there are definitely non-toxic brands that I recommend, but ya gotta keep a really close eye on these materials for sour smells and black spots
  3.  Yes, I have an old “true” jelly dildo in my possession. I was sent it for testing purposes, to see what would happen to condoms (wanted to see if I could test for myself how quickly/obviously the latex would deteriorate on something like this dildo). The dildo smells of chemicals, and feels oily.
  4. And in theory protect yourself from whatever is living in your porous toy
  5. The reason? There’s really only one brand making a polyurethane condom so it’s not a majority leader on the shelf
 Posted by at 5:55 pm
Mar 202016
 

Blush Nude Impressions 01 - The "Swiss Army Knife" of Sex ToysI got pretty excited when SheVibe first mentioned the Blush Nude Impressions line to me – they’re something we don’t see much of right now. They’re rechargeable vibrators with a suction cup base, crafted from dust-repellent silky-smooth silicone AND I was told the vibrations don’t suck! AND they’re affordable! I was a little wary of the button placement and odd designs but still held hopes that I would like them. I wanted to like them; primarily because this category is slim pickins – you either have battery-powered options from Pipedream (definitely would rather not support them) that have a wired remote handpack or you have other options that are highly realistic and made from dodgy, porous materials.

Blush Nude Impressions – The Good

When I said multi-purpose, I meant it. This thing is Ridiculous. My Blush Nude Impressions 01 can be an external vibe if you’re in a pinch; a g-spot vibe; a dildo; a prostate vibe; a suction-cup ride-able sex toy; a harness-compatible vibrator; a bath-time vibrator. It’s body-safe and affordable with a good motor. It’s like the Swiss Army Knife of sex toys.

The vibrations have a kick. Have I felt better? Of course. It’s no Prism V, it’s no Rave. But I wouldn’t call the vibrations surface-buzzy, either. They have some reach and I’d put this firmly in the “middle of the road” camp both in terms of strength and buzz vs rumble. It’s going to be enough to satisfy many people. Oddly enough I was able to orgasm from this, when used externally. I think it’s partly because of the weird fin on each side, which meant I was able to target the more sensitive side of my clitoris. I’m not saying it was a great orgasm; but it happened. It wasn’t a strong orgasm, but the fact that I was able to come from the vibrations puts it ahead of plenty of other vibrators. Yes, the motor suffers vibration dampening when the toy is inserted, but it actually just manages to tone down the buzziness. I can still feel the vibrations, and it’s stronger than some other insertables. The vibrations are firmly concentrated to the head; I can barely feel anything as you get closer to the buttons. Yes there are patterns, and there are 5 levels of vibration intensity.

Rechargeable! That’s pretty rare for this type of beast. So rechargeable is a very nice bonus. There’s a slight issue with charging, which I’ll talk about it a minute.

The buttons – at first I thought they were in a bad place for use, but I can’t see where else they could go. They’ll become a cleaning issue because of the indented design, and you’ll want to take special care of them if you’re using anally, or sharing. They’re easy to press, though they do glow brightly in use (and strobe annoyingly while charging). One button is to turn the power on but it doesn’t start the motor – it’s a two-key process. You have to press the power button and then press the function button to cycle through the intensity and pattern settings, and then press the power button to turn off. This can act as a sort of travel lock since it’s less likely that the buttons could be depressed while in your bag in the correct order.

The suction cup is strong because the suction base has quite a bit of flex and give. I can attach this thing to my work desk and gyrate it around like an arcade joystick; it stays put.  It will still be harness-compatible, and anal safe though! A really nice harness-compatible vibrator. Think about that. That’s uncommon!!

The silicone itself has no drag and feels very silky (which means it attracts no fur or dust) but overall the design is firm to a squeeze. There is some bend to the shaft, though, I suspect because the motor is under the silicone skin for the top half and then the bottom half doesn’t have as much hardware inside, allowing the toy to bend a bit. Those who don’t like the rigidity of type silicone-covered vibes might find this to be a little more comfortable.

It’s waterproof, so it’s a great bath and shower toy. And shockingly, there’s a 5-year warranty. I’ve never dealt with Blush Novelties for warranty issues so I don’t know how they are to deal with – i.e. if they give you problems or ignore you completely. But a 5-year warranty is pretty nice for a $50 sex toys.

The Not Great

My first one was DOA…I think. When my second one arrived and charging still didn’t work, I consulted the interwebs and was told that you can’t insert the charging plug the whole way. Which is weird, and surely a flaw in design but the only way you’ll know it’s actually charging is when the power button’s light flashes wildly. If you first plug it in and the light is steady, then it’s not charging. But it’s receiving power, so that’s odd. Both of mine arrived without a charge in them, so it was hard to know if they were okay until I figured out how to charge the thing. Insert the plug fully and then slowly pull it out slightly until you see the power button blinking like it belongs in a rave.

The charge doesn’t really seem to last very long. Blush says “up to” 40 minutes which means only if you’re on the lowest setting. I ran a charge down just by randomly picking it up and turning it on for a couple of minutes here and there over the weeks I owned it, for comparisons. I admit I lost track of how long it took to charge from dead to complete; over an hour, definitely. Probably longer. At least the charging cable is USB, so it’s travel-friendly – you’ll  definitely need to take the cable with you.

While the designs are all butt-safe, they’re also all a little on the short side – nothing is over 6″ insertable. That’s not incredibly short but for some people it’s less than ideal. The vagina is a cul-de-sac so there’s a limit to how much length you’ll really need but the butt is like a dark country road – how far you go depends on you. Just like the g-spot, some people have a prostate that’s located a little bit farther inside, so the shortest model (the 02) may be just a bit shy of ideal at 4.5″ insertable.

Weird As Hell Designs

I have Blush Nude Impressions 01, which has a pronounced head – angled, yet flat which gently tapers to the shaft, and the shaft isn’t round, it’s more oval. And then there are these odd “fins” on each side. They don’t look like much, but you can really feel them pinging your g-spot if you twist the toy while it’s inserted. It’s actually pretty interesting, but not something everyone will like. I’m the queen of “off label uses” with sex toys and I found that the fin on the side allowed me to use this as an external vibe – the fin nestled against the side of my clit, right where I need stimulation.

Blush Nude Impressions 02 is pretty short on insertable length (4.5″) but has these ridges that remind me of what happens to blacktop when a tractor trailer brakes really hard on a hot day. Those who know that their g-spot or prostate really digs ridges will like this one.

Blush Nude Impressions 03 seems longer, it’s 8″ overall, but the subtle “balls” prevent you from getting that much insertable length. This version would be great for anal-play afficianados because the balls prevent you from inserting the buttons, making cleaning just slightly easier. SheVibe takes its measurements from Blush, listing the Nude Impressions 03 at 1.9″ wide right now, but other sites list it as 1.6″ wide. Then there’s the customer review, saying that the head is actually closer to 2.5″, so I don’t know what to think.

Blush Nude Impressions 04 is….it reminds me of a jewelry holder, the kind meant to hold bracelets, or maybe rings and someone put a beaded ring on it. This design is the weirdest and I’m not sure who would love it. I’m also not really a fan of yellow, but I know plenty of people who are.

Blush Nude Impressions 01 - side view of the "fin"

Overall, I approve of these. There’s currently nothing this nice on the market, at this $50 price point. $50 for something that does so much is a really great price.

 

SheVibe sent me this affordable sex toy at no charge in exchange for my honest review. You can get this model or any of the Nude Impressions line at SheVibe and rest assured that a DOA vibe won’t be a big deal with their amazing customer service.

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 Posted by at 4:40 pm
Mar 112016
 

Boom OliveCan I interest you in a short, weaker version of the Lelo Mona? Mona-Lite! Wait, no. That doesn’t sell it. Hmmm. Would you like to own a vibrator that speaks to your love of posh-looking car interiors with their pale no-kids-allowed leather seats and faux (or maybe not) wood accents? That’s a thing, right? There’s folks out there that perked up at that? Yes! We’re gonna go with that!! Boom Olive, and the rest of the Boom line, appealed to my “gotta own something that looks unique” side. Sadly some of the Boom models have barely any wood trim – just the button. These aren’t as fun to look at.

Boom. I dunno, man, I dunno. I don’t know what it means. I know who they are though – one of the many, many sub brands of Shots Media and I think they’re now owned by Evolved Novelties? I took one look at Shots and what they have under “toys” and I don’t even know what the fuck I’m seeing, but that’s not part of this review. I feel like I just looked behind the curtain and shouldn’t have. MOVING ON!

I had two really good reasons for wanting to review the Boom Olive:

  1. The design – white and faux wood. It’s not your usual sex toy design, it feels really gender neutral and unique.
  2. The price – The most expensive one is $65, and a bunch are under $50 for rechargeable, silicone-covered vibes!

Boom Olive vs Lelo MonaBoth good reasons. But something happened when I got the Boom Olive in my hand….I realized I’d forgotten to read the specs. It’s SHORT. Like, way too short for my T-rex arms. Some of you are gonna like this aspect. Some of you don’t want a longer vibrator, and if that’s you – you’re in luck. Olive has some decent girth for being so short. It’s got an interesting curve like someone took their fimo-clay model and just bent it at that point right above the handle. A nice 45-ish degree angle crook. Seriously, it’s really similar to Mona’s crook.

Before we go further, I’m gonna tell you who is going to consider this vibe, because this isn’t for everyone. You are:

  1. A bit more sensitive to vibrations. You don’t need a powerhouse vibe, but don’t want anything too mild.
  2. On a bit of a budget. You know about the nicer vibes, the vibes I love, but they’re out of your price range. $59 is in your price range.
  3.  Interested in a little vibe that can pull double duty. This would work well as a clitoral vibe for those who don’t need super pinpoint stimulation, and could even work well as a vibe to use during PIV sex – the crook and the handle help keep your hand back from the pelvic-bumping action.
  4. Not looking for anything big; you’re actively seeking vibes with less insertable length but you don’t need something slender.
  5. Sick of pink and purple.

Boom Olive – The Good

Alright so the vibrations – this is definitely one for people who like patterns. While there’s only three vibration intensity settings, there’s a whopping seven different patterns. But the vibrations…they’re not bad! I’d put them firmly in the middle of buzzy and rumbly – they’re not rumbly, but they’re not buzzy. It took me awhile but I was able to orgasm clitorally with this. The vibrations don’t dampen too much during insertion, either! They feel about on par with the OVO K2 rabbit, so will be equal to most insertable battery-powered OVO vibes (but not their rechargeables). The vibrations seem to be also on par with the larger Picobong vibes, like the Moka.  The button is easy to use – press and hold one end to power (on) and press the other to increase the speeds or cycle through the patterns. The motor is in the tip (hence why it’s decent as an external vibe). The silicone is silky, similar to OVO and LELO and Je Joue.  It’s USB rechargeable, so it’s universal which I’m starting to appreciate more. It’s also water-resistant, but not waterproof. No submerging, but you could likely get away with using it in the shower, just not while you’re under the stream. Noise-wise, Boom Olive is also pretty quiet. In fact I think it’s slightly more quiet than the Picobong Moka. I’m actually impressed by the noise level here.

Boom Olive shape vs Picobong Moka, Lelo Mona, We-Vibe Rave, with repeated photobombs by my cat who was feeling needy that day

Boom Olive – The Not So Good

The seam between the faux wood accents and silicone is annoying and gonna cause some issues, but at least with the Olive it’s only on the handle. Some models will have the wood accent on the insertable part and that is going to make for some difficult cleaning. The white silicone also can absorb dye from ABS plastic. I accidentally stored this in the same “to be reviewed” box as the hot pink Womanizer W500 and now there are two faint lines of pink on the Olive where it touched the Womanizer, not unlike a pregnancy stick. So the white silicone needs to be kept in storage bag….and they didn’t give you one.

boom Olive with pink stain lines

I can’t really count the short length and moderate vibrations as a “not so good”, because I already warned you about that. It is what it is, and maybe for some this length and these moderate vibrations are a good thing. If it’s a flaw to you, well, okay, it is to me too. But thankfully not everyone is like me! All in all this really is a decent little vibe and I think that some other styles in this line hold great promise, while others just confuse me on their intended use. I like that most of these are under $50; I’m not sure why the Olive is $60 since it is so short, like the Miki while the traditional-length Elm is $45.  I hope it’s not because Olive has the best motor; but when I can find out if there’s motor differences/similarities between the models, I’ll let you know.

 

 

Shevibe provided me with the Boom Olive in exchange for my always-honest review. Thank you SheVibe!