Mar 152018
 

The official sign on Tulip Toy Gallery's front door notifying customers that the business has shut down and cannot legally sell anything. This location housed the Vamp Silicone production center. Tulip and Vamp Silicone are sister companies. Last July it appeared that Tulip Toy Gallery and sister company Vamp Silicone were gone for good – various people reported that a few Tulip Toy locations were shuttered, and the Tulip and Vamp websites were down. The phones were down. Customer emails weren’t being answered, either; a fact that by itself wouldn’t lead us to think the company had closed completely; we’ve been reading about problematic Vamp Silicone orders for a while now on Tumblr and elsewhere – since 2014, at least. On Tumblr there were reports of some customers were getting their orders completed; some completed, but incorrect, and some never completed. I’d made the decision to recommend that my readers not purchase from Vamp directly and only purchase Vamp premade items from reputable retailers.

Not too long after we discussed this apparent closure on Twitter, Camila Klinger (owner of both Tulip and Vamp) sent out an email to retailers:

Vamp Silicone has a deep passion for, and commitment to, hand-making creative silicone adult novelties. As a small LGBTQIA owned and operated business making functional and high quality toys, we take great pride in serving our community.

Recently our company has gone through a hardship. During this difficult time it has also been an opportunity to regroup and meticulously plan an exciting future for our products and we are happy to announce that our production will resume next week, starting August 1st, 2017.

They never did resume production and emails were still left unanswered. So, what happened?

Negative Online Reviews

There are negative reviews on Facebook but not a ton – of course, that doesn’t mean there aren’t a lot more disgruntled customers out there who lost money. There are a few Better Business Bureau negative reviews. The Vamp Silicone Facebook page is gone, but both Twitter accounts still exist (but with no recent activity). The Vamp Instagram account is still up, with no activity for almost a year. There are a lot of negative Google reviews for Tulip Toy Gallery’s physical locations – citing they didn’t receive product or refund – and all locations are listed as “permanently closed” on Google and Yelp. There are some tweets about unfilled/non-refunded orders, too.

The reviews have a lot to say1 – this is just a sample of the ones I’ve found for Tulip and Vamp:

“It was an item that for some reason they don’t actively carry in stock, so the woman working told me I’d have it in 4-10 days by mail. 2 weeks pass and nothing. I tried calling the store over and over again and the line was not in service. I finally make it back to the store and the person working that day says that the first person spoke in error, that it’s not 4-10 days, bur 4-10 weeks, and that if I want I can email the manager for a refund. I give them the benefit of the doubt and wait the 4-10 weeks. 11 weeks after ordering and still nothing. I emailed the manager and have had no response after waiting a few weeks. I just went into the store the other day, only managers can issue returns, but they only work from like 3-5. The woman working took all my information and told me that the manager would call me the next day (after apologizing profusely) since I work and can’t make it in when the manager is in. No phone call. I have had it. This place has essentially stolen over $100 from me and I plan on reporting them to the Better Business Bureau. This is absolutely ridiculous.” (Tulip) (see follow-up report number 1 below)

“This place is an absolute effing JOKE. I placed an online order back in May. MAY!!! I’ve called numerous times and sent several emails to find out the status of my so called “processing” order. Their phone is disconnected and no one has responded to my emails. Absolutely AMAZING business etiquette. NOT!!” (Tulip) (see follow-up report number 2 listed below)

“I recently ordered an item and waited a week, finally I emailed inquiring about the item and why I have not received it and requested a refund.. received an email two days later stating that it was out of stock and were waiting to receive it to send to me.. and that a refund can take up to 30 days.. I emailed asking if I’m going to receive a confirmation about the refund being processed … haven’t received a response back. If I do not receive my refund within the time specified will be reporting to better business bureau.” (Tulip)

and a follow up to that review was: I received a call that they processed the refund two weeks ago and the funds have not made it to my account.. I have called and emailed the phone number is now temporarily disconnected!!!! So upset at this point. Going to file a claim at this point.” (Tulip)

“Still unable to get in contact, I have emailed and Facebook messaged as phone is dissconected they have read my Facebook message but have failed to reply my order of $180 worth of stuff has still not arrived it has been 8 weeks!! Give me an explanation and deliver the product I have paid for or give my money back!” (Tulip)

“Placed an order towards the beginning of July, understood it would take a bit of time since these are oftentimes handmade items, but it is now nearing the end of September and my order is still marked “processing.” I contacted them September 18th requesting the status of my order, and told them if it still wasn’t ready, I wanted a full refund because at this point I was out $80 for nothing. Still no response, emailed them again tonight (09/20/2017) and threatened to file a complaint this time if no one tells me what the heck is going on. At this point I don’t even want my items, I just want all of my money back, but I read someone else’s review and it seems they never got a refund… Fingers crossed. ” (Vamp)

” I placed an order on August 7th and my credit card was charged for the purchase. I have emailed several times to check on my order that I still have not received as of September 14th and have not had any response from this company. I am concerned that this company has taken my money and I will not receive product or refund. ” (Vamp)

But as early as last summer a fellow sex toy review blogger visited their main location and had nothing but good things to say.

Behind the Scenes of Tulip Toy Gallery and Vamp Silicone

Because of my tweets last year asking about the companies an anonymous source reached out to me recently to shed a little light on the mystery of Vamp Silicone and Tulip Toy Gallery2. Back in October 2017 an official sign was placed on the door to let people know that Tulip Toy Gallery (the main location and, by that time, the only location still open) was legally shut down and not allowed to sell anything. That was the last time any employee went to work.

The customer complaints paint some of the picture, but then it gets worse. I was told they kept their doors open – both brick and online – with a severe lack of stock at Tulip and a lack of silicone at Vamp. The source says that they “ran out of silicone” for production of Vamp dildos back in May of 2017, but had unfulfilled orders reportedly going back as far as 2016. When customers would reach out for their refund they would be told that it had to be approved by the owner who I’m told never (or rarely) approved the refunds.

With regards to Tulip Toy Gallery unfulfilled orders, I was told that employees were reportedly instructed to lie to customers and say that there was a delay with the distributor and their order would be in soon. Soon never came. After the employees were told to lie to customers, I was told that Camila would eventually reach out to the customer (most times) and tell them the refund was in process but could take up to 30 days to go through – but reportedly most people never received a refund. 

I was also told that towards the end of being in business, Tulip Toy Gallery barely had any actual stock to sell in their store and there were reportedly as many as 75 customer orders as of October 2017 that needed a refund from Tulip Toy Gallery or Vamp Silicone.

All of this information has been verified and deemed accurate by a second anonymous source.

I’ve looked up business licenses and cannot find any that match the address of Tulip/Vamp, the name, or other reportedly connected names such as Three Red Peaches. If a business license is suspended or revoked for something like unpaid taxes it could be reinstated when the taxes are paid. I am unsure how a website could be owned and operated without a business license, as I do not understand law to that degree.

Reaching Out to Upset Customers

I was able to reach a few of the people who’ve left reviews; I wanted to see if they received a refund or the items they ordered.

The first person responded: “No. And the bank couldn’t give me back my money because by the time I knew there was an issue, it was beyond the limit of time they allow to contest a change.” This person had gone back to the store repeatedly, and ended up waiting a total of 4 months because of the delays the employee kept giving them – first the 4-10 days by mail delay, then the 4-10 weeks they claimed to have originally told them to wait. I asked if they reported it to the BBB, and they said “I did. The BBB didn’t/couldn’t do anything. They eventually closed the case.”

One person said that they did not receive a refund or product; they “even contacted Vamp and told them what had happened.. suggested to them that the same thing has happened to others as evident in the comments. Never received an email for phone call from Vamp either.”

One person did get their money back – it seems that complaining to the Better Business Bureau helped: “One of the workers reached out to me personally on her own private fb page so she fixed it up for me. the company itself kept ignoring my messages on there Facebook page and emails as there phone was disconnected. I only heard back from the lady when I lodged a complaint from some organisation in America and they actually contacted tulips on my behalf. I sent about 10 Facebook messages and 4 emails all up and every message on Facebook I could see that they had seen it and ignored.

Great! I told her I was glad she had gotten a refund, that two people I’d spoken to thus far had not. She continued: “Yes well I only had mine refund by a worker who said she was horrified hearing someone else that worked there telling her about my complaints so she personally got in touch with me and refunded me.” I was also privately wondering how an employee could have issued a refund when anonymous sources confirmed that only Camila could authorize and put through refunds. Because the messages were exchanged via Facebook, I asked her if she had their name and would pass it along. Her response? “Camila Klinger”. When I told her that Camila was not an employee, she is an owner, she said: “That’s weird she said she was one of the workers and she had not been there for that long and was not aware.”

I also was able to reach Autumn, who had sent out a warning last summer via Twitter as linked above and who had, by November, still not received product or refund. She confirmed that no refund has been issued yet. Autumn tried to contact Vamp by email, Instagram, and by calling Tulip Toy Gallery to no response.

Response from the Owner, Camila Klinger

Camila has been responding to my emails over the last week, and this is what I’m allowed to share3:

“Thank you for bringing possible pending refunds to my attention. We were operating with limited resources during a very challenging time and it’s possible some customers were not properly refunded for their orders. As I previously expressed, I’ve been working to regain access to restricted accounts, working to retrieve dispute activity and will work with the companies to release funds if needed. To help remedy the situation and take care of customers I have posted the following notice.

As for the other allegations, I believe there are some misunderstandings. Since my current focus is on past customers, I will keep this brief and to the point:

I have never instructed employees to lie to customers and I have never myself lied to any customers.

If Vamp took orders, it’s because we were equipped to do so or had inventory to offer in the meantime during silicone shortages. Many times we didn’t expect silicone shortages to delay as long as they did. While things weren’t all handled well, we would not have acted recklessly in the way that your sources have characterized.

I believe honestly and in good faith that these are misunderstandings and I would like to work hard to clarify them.

Needless to say, Vamp and Tulip are tiny, independently owned businesses. We operate in a highly competitive market place and in an economic landscape that offers virtually no incentives for small businesses such as ours. Loans and other funding options for adult type businesses add to the challenges. We do the best we can. There were a lot of financial hardships that led to the closing of the company, there were problems that weren’t handled well at the time, all I can say is that we will work hard to, and I hope we will, do better in the future once Vamp is again fully operational.

As for Tulip, I am working on a statement as well. I have a part-time job working nights and so I am doing the best that I can with my limited time and resources. But this will be addressed ASAP, I can guarantee that to you.”

Camila also included in her email to me a list of positive customer feedback quotes. I don’t doubt that over the years there have been many satisfied customers. There are plenty of positive reviews on the web, visible at the locations I’ve linked already.

I do want to note that Camila seemed to take it very seriously when I informed her that there appeared to be outstanding Vamp Silicone orders that are due a refund. At this time I don’t have any information on outstanding nonrefunded Tulip Toy Gallery orders, but will do my best to press more for answers on that. There is more evidence of outstanding Tulip Toy Gallery orders than Vamp Silicone orders but it should be noted the Vamp Silicone Facebook page has been gone for some time, and we cannot know about reviews that may be been on that page.

While my initial email to Camila focused a bit more on Vamp than Tulip, I am still trying to get more answers about Tulip. I have asked many specific questions and not received the specific answers I would like to see. Camila is citing a lack of time and a preference to focus on cleaning up issues with Vamp and Tulip that I have brought up (in regards to orders). I have asked, specifically, about points the anonymous sources made such as the number of outstanding orders, the fact that Vamp ran out of silicone in May, the issues with refunds and the reportedly purposeful delays of refunds.

My interpretation of the most recent email leads me to believe that Camila may attempt to revive Vamp Silicone in the future.

~   ~    ~    ~    ~    ~    ~    ~

My aim for writing this post is to ensure that customers are well-informed. I hope that this post finds anybody who has still not received a refund; if that is you, then please contact me or respond in comment to this post. I would hope that Camila will ensure you get your overdue refund, and I will pass on all information of overdue refunds. 

During my investigation and contact with Camila she began working on ways to refund the outstanding Vamp Silicone orders I discussed. There is currently a page up at Vamp telling customers how to get their overdue refunds. Email all of your order info to vamprefunds@gmail.com. When writing, please include your order information and any other relevant details.

It should be noted that if you are a customer having problems with an order, do not let it go longer than 28 days4 before you contact your bank to reverse the charges.

I hope that anyone who has shopped at mytulip.com or vampsilicone.com will find this post if they are overdue on a refund. I would also hope that anyone deciding on whether or not to shop with them finds this post, to better make their own informed decision about shopping there. I don’t know the future of these two businesses, but mytulip.com is currently operating and taking orders.

I have withheld my personal opinions and speculations from this post for legal reasons, but have left the comments open for others to express their own opinions, share experiences and ask questions. I hope that any questions others may post here will also be answered by Camila.

I will update this post if I get new information.

  1. I have screencapped receipts for all of these in case these reviews ever get removed
  2. It should be noted that, at first, this source was only telling me information to answer my questions, not with any intent on me passing the information on. At first, everything said to me was off the record, but we talked about it and they changed their mind
  3. note that there have been prior conversations that I have not been given permission to share
  4. all banks/credit card companies vary so double check how long you have to contest charges
 Posted by at 10:05 am
Mar 062018
 

Coconut Oil and Silicone Sex Toys - A jar of coconut oil is surrounded by various silicone sex toysThe world is divided on their feelings about coconut oil as lube, but I didn’t know that people truly believed that coconut oil and silicone sex toys were incompatible. It doesn’t work well as a lube for everyone; it’s not the perfect lube (there isn’t one perfect lube). But it does work well for many folks! It’s not good for those who use condoms – unless you can use the hard-to-find polyurethane or nitrile condoms – but it is great with all body-safe sex toy materials.

I’ve talked about the fact that coconut oil and silicone sex toys are compatible but then recently a sex toy shop published a Very Incorrect article on why they hated coconut oil as lube. Among their many opinions touted as (incorrect) facts was that they claimed it would destroy silicone sex toys, making them look “decayed”. That’s…that’s not a thing that happens…ever.

Despite myself and other bloggers chiming in about their long-time use of coconut oil lube with silicone sex toys, the shop’s social media manager was not swayed and they got really shitty with folks. But since they were not the only ones surprised that coconut oil and silicone sex toys can have a long, happy marriage I decided to run a little experiment. Y’all know how much I love experiments.

Geeky Metrics

I wanted to be sure I could tell you that there was no change to the silicone with no doubts, so I had to use proof beyond my pictures and my words. I borrowed a durometer to tell me the shore strength (squish level) of the sex toys before and after their exposure to coconut oil. I weighed them in grams to make sure that no oil was absorbed. I photographed them before and after each time they bathed in coconut oil.

Coconut oil and silicone sex toys - showing various silicone sex toys with coconut oil on themThe first time I put the coconut oil on the sex toys I had melted the oil and brushed it on with a basting brush. I did it this way because once the coconut oil is in your body it’s warmed up enough to liquify. But this meant that I was worried there wasn’t enough oil on the sex toys to be convincing because the oil slid right off the shiny Tantus dildo and dripped off the others in slow motion. Because we keep our house temps at 68F, though, the melted oil eventually solidified on the sex toys. I waited 30 minutes before I washed and dried them. 

The second time around I scooped out some slightly-softened-mostly-solid coconut oil and spread it on the sex toys. This time I left it on the TPR toys for only 2 hours and decided to leave it on the silicone sex toys overnight. The coconut oil and silicone sex toys marinated for 15 hours the second time.

Coconut Oil and Silicone Sex Toys

My first test time of 30 minutes “marinating” the coconut oil and silicone sex toys was based on this poll I ran asking people how long their sex toys were usually covered in lube.

My second test time of 15 hours1 was because I wanted to make sure that a cumulative effect of many uses would also not have any effect. I was too impatient / couldn’t gaurantee the consistent cleanliness of my kitchen to run 5 or 9 half-hour tests so I figured that a long exposure would be fine. 

As expected, the coconut oil had no effect on the silicone. There was no absorption of oil into the silicone. There was no change in shore strength. There was no “decayed” look. There was no effect: coconut oil and silicone sex toys are perfectly compatible.

Coconut oil and silicone sex toys - close up views of silicone sex toys before coconut oil was applied and after the final 15 hour test

Coconut Oil and Fun Factory Toys

It came to my attention tonight, thanks to Epiphora, that it does void the warranty on Fun Factory toys if you use coconut oil or other oils – however, it’s not because of the silicone. I find this kind of ironic because one of the toys I tested was Fun Factory. WHOOPS. The toy is fine, though. Anyway, it’s because oil damages their plastic handles / the controls. I’ve never personally experienced any issues with coconut oil and other plastic sex toys or their plastic handles but I cannot tell you to risk voiding your warranty when the manufacturer is so explicit.

Which Coconut Oil?

I did my tests with “extra virgin, unrefined” coconut oil. When I first did my research on coconut oil as a lube information seemed to point to unrefined, organic, extra-virgin as being the “best” and healthiest. Refined goes through processes to sanitize it but those processes also destroy a lot of the good stuff. According to LiveStrong:

Of the two options, refined oil remains a cheaper choice. While the refined product still contains the valuable medium chain fatty acids, the damage done to many nutritive factors such as the polyphenols during processing means that the unrefined oil stands out as a healthier choice.

Some refined coconut oils can have partially-hydroginated fats added in, which could increase the pore-clogging factor of oil for some people. I think that as long as you make sure it has nothing added and it’s organic, there’s no harm. Fewer benefits, but reduced cost.

If you’re someone who is most worried about pores being clogged because you’re prone to that then you could try liquid coconut oil – it has the solidifying fat removed so it’s considered non-comdedogenic. Of course this is also the most refined and it removes most, if not all, of the health benefits you may want from coconut oil (anti-fungal, anti-microbial, etc).

You can also try out the new options on the market that are specifically marketed as lube, which includes Coconu and Sliquid. Both are combinations of various plant-based oils and butters; I have no idea how much of the anti-fungal -microbial properties would remain in these lubes so if that’s an aspect that is important, go back to unrefined coconut oil. It’s also considerably more expensive that buying plain coconut oil – 2 ounces of Sliquid is $12, but 32 ounces of organic, unrefined coconut oil is $14.

There are no studies on coconut oil as a lubricant that I’ve found, but a number of studies showing that coconut oil is great at killing candida. I’ve found a study on mineral oil and vaginal use, which is bad, but not coconut oil. No studies talk about the pH because, as far as we know, oils don’t have a pH. Some people have reported increased vaginal infections with coconut oil and feel it’s down to the fact that oils can help bacteria hang out for longer in your vagina – they can, but unrefined coconut oil is anti-microbial. So what could be the problem?

Well, it could be how you’re getting the coconut oil on your bits. Are you digging a finger into the tub of oil? You’re introducing bacteria. I suggest “decanting” an ounce of oil into a smaller container with a lid. The article linked above also suggests that using too much coconut oil can disrupt the flora balance and make an existing yeast infection worse, not better, so it’s a delicate balance. People who easily get yeast infections may want to take caution.

“The fact that coconut oil kills candida and yeast can help with yeast infections and candida issues, but can also cause a healing crises or candida die off when used internally. If you have never used coconut oil internally before, start with a 1 teaspoon (5 grams) and test your body’s response.”

A little goes a very long way with coconut oil as a lube.

Oil and Silicone Elsewhere

A few months ago the myth of “silicone toys touching in storage” came up again on social media in part because of Lovehoney’s incorrect assertions that some silicone wand toppers shouldn’t be used on silicone-headed wand vibrators and my jar experiment of a few years ago didn’t seem to be “enough”. I went to a kitchen supply store, I looked around my own house and pointed out the many many silicone kitchen ephemera that exists peacefully as a group, all touchin’ up in each others’ business. The silicone items at the kitchen store touching in long-term storage. Nothing. Happens.

People seem to forget that silicone exists in the world outside of sex toys. Silicone wedding bands, and gasket rings, and various kitchen and bath items, and cell phone cases. How many times do you use oil in your cooking and baking and it comes in contact with a silicone item? For me it’s a lot – spatulas and basting brushes and measuring spoons. Many people wear a silicone wedding band and I’ve not heard of one problem with the band being destroyed due to contact with oils. They don’t warn you in the care instructions to avoid oil.

Like the myth that silicone-touching-silicone will result in damage to your sex toys I think this myth is something that has hung on from the unchecked industry issues of companies or retailers saying that something is silicone when it’s actually TPR. If your sex toy is damaged, melts, deforms from storage or oil? It’s not silicone. You’ve reached an timely end in your adventure, now turn back to page 14 and start over, this time by flame-testing that sex toy to make sure it’s actually silicone.

Bonus Section: Coconut Oil and TPR

I expected to see visible destruction given the results of my jar (the liquid in the jar is the oil that’s leached out of the toys and my theory is that that speeds up and encourages more breakdown of material). What actually happened mildly surprised me. 

I could not find any change in the texture or softness of the two TPR sex toys. One was more firm than the softest silicone and one was so squishy it reminded me of a masturbation sleeve and it was softer than the Shore A durometer could measure. What I did notice, however, was how the oil behaved. The liquid oil on the TPR never solidified. The solid oil on the TPR started to melt AND seemed to draw out some of the oil in the material. You can see the differences in this video. The oil on the cutting board beneath each TPR sex toy was slightly sticky, too. 

I even left the softer TPR dildo in contact with coconut oil for an entire day – the coconut oil in the dish solidifed (I’d melted it) but the oil I’d put on the dildo was gone and the oil that dildo was touching in the bowl also remained liquid. It’s really strange. I couldn’t see any damage like visible material distortion or anything but I could see some literal holes in the dildo that teared easily when I pulled on the material a little.

Without having access to more in-depth scientific tools I can’t tell you exactly what happened to the TPR. It’s a known thing in the industry that you can’t mix TPR or PVC with oil lubes so this wasn’t a thing to prove – it was merely a “compare and contrast” and “because I can” addition to the test.

 

Do you use coconut oil as lube? What have been your experiences?

  1. In the video I said 10 hours but that is because I have no concept of time, and guessed. But when I looked at my IG post from the day before to see when I’d actually put the oil on the toys the second time, it said 15 hours
Mar 032018
 

Definition:: what is a body-safe sex toy?Toxic. Non-porous. Body-safe. Skin-safe. Non-toxic. These are all terms you will see used to define sex toy materials. Toxic, non-toxic, and non-porous are all pretty self-explanatory terms but we’ll go over them here. The term that seems up for debate is body-safe, so today I’m going to give you various answers on what a body-safe sex toy is.

But, let’s start by talking about the other, more easily defined terms, before we define a body-safe sex toy.

Toxic Sex Toys

The topic of toxic toys is one this blog is familiar with; I have a whole page dedicated to the ins and outs. When you get down to the nitty-gritty of language, though, you may wonder if “toxic” is accurate. Toxic, by definition, means “containing poisonous substances” or “containing or being poisonous material especially when capable of causing serious injury or death

While there are no cases of a sex toy material killing someone we do know that some sex toys contain phthalates, a chemical that can do bad things to the body. The occurance of phthalates in sex toys is sharply declining, thankfully, as evidenced by recent lab tests. One or two uses won’t likely hurt you, and sex toys are not the only place to find phthalates but they’re a thing you can control and avoid.

We’ve also seen the presence of heavy metals, like Cadmium which is dangerous, but this is rare. We may see irritants, such as chlorine, which may cause a burn or rash on your skin. But the chances of a sex toy truly being “toxic” to the point of serious illness? We don’t know. After all, no one is subjecting mice to a Basix dildo and observing them.

The lab tests on sex toys have largely been performed on the more well-known brands but the market is flooding, unchecked, on sites like Groupon, Amazon, Ebay and AliExpress. Brands come and go and they are usually not the focus of testing. These are the brands I am most skeptical of; they are white label brands usually (another definition post to come on that) and their manufacturing isn’t watched with a careful eye like the more major brands.

Because the sex toy industry is much less regulated the chemicals in sex toy materials are not monitored by any governing body. Packaging can say whatever the company wants it to say with no regard for the truth. As consumers become more savvy and bloggers educate more, I feel we’re seeing fewer companies lie on packaging but it certainly still happens.

There are a few things we know to be true, though: You’ll never find phthalates in silicone or hard materials. Due to the nature of the material you don’t find phthalates in TPR/TPE but you may in latex rubber or PVC. PVC/Vinyl can contain high levels of chlorine, while TPR/TPE has been shown to be free of harmful and irritating chemicals. Visually, it can be hard to tell the difference between a TPR and PVC – your nose may know, but all soft sex toy materials (even silicone) can have a bad chemical odor due to manufacturing chemicals not being removed before the toy is sealed up in packaging.

Non-Toxic Definition

Non-toxic is a definition I use for materials that are porous but are either very unlikely to contain harmful or irritating chemicals or the company claims they are free from harmful or irritating chemicals. TPR/TPE and various trademarked “flesh” like materials will fall in this category – such as masturbators like Fleshlight and Tenga. PVC that claims to be phthalates-free could begrudingly go in this category if we’re feeling charitable or have repeatedly seen that the brand never fails on lab tests. 

Unfortunately, as noted above, it can often be hard to tell the difference between PVC and TPR/TPE. Both can be jelly-like and clear, or completely opaque. I am more wary of this difficulty telling the difference when you’re relying on white-label brands direct from the Chinese manufacturing plant than of major name brands carried at most retailers.

Non-toxic, porous sex toy materials may not ever harm your body in the ways a toxic toy can – they are unlikely to cause a rash or chemical burn, for example. They will, over time, become a happy home to bacteria and yeast because these materials can only be cleaned on the surface – the same can be said for toxic toys because they are also porous. Their pores will always freely feed bacterial colonies and encourage them to thrive. The material is not chemically stable and will break down over time. It will happen slowly if left on its own: it’ll sweat an oily substance, lose it’s coloring, or take on coloring from anal use or simply the place it’s being stored. It will happen rapidly if stored in a place that gets hotter than body temperature or if two porous toys are stored touching each other.

Non-toxic, porous sex toys can also potentially cause vaginal infections in some people.

Skin-Safe Definition

I’ve only seen this term used by a few retailers, namely Lovehoney (and anybody setting up their site who copies Lovehoney). My best guess is they use this term as a nicer way of describing materials that are porous yet claim to be non-toxic.

Why “Skin safe” and not body-safe or, more accurately, non-toxic? Perhaps even they recognize that “body-safe” is a higher level of quality yet they still want to give you a false sense of security. Given all the issues that can happen with porous materials I would never call them “skin safe”.  PVC without phthalates is non-toxic but could burn your skin from chlorine…that doesn’t sound “safe”.

Body-Safe Sex Toy Definitions

Like “skin safe”, some retailers and manufacturers use “body safe” as a blanket term for anything that is merely non-toxic. The issues with porous sex toys, like repeated vaginal infections, won’t happen for everyone. If you replace the porous material after 4-6 months and take very good care of it1 then you may never have to worry about shoving a bacterial colony of squigglies in your body. These exceptions, maybes and loopholes mean that, to some, TPR/TPE and similarly named products (elastomer, for example) are “body-safe”.

I don’t consider microbial stowayas “body-safe” but, unless you’re a microbiologist, you won’t know the bacteria and yeast there. They could be. I’ve heard of people giving themselves repeated yeast infections because of the microbes in the toy; I’ve heard of people feeling like they’ve had food poisioning after using a porous sex toy anally.

While many retailers will push you towards sex toy cleaners for the porous materials, I don’t recommend it. The chemicals from the cleaner could potentially stick around in the pores. Do we know this to be 100% fact? No. Again, a lack of specific medical studies but enough people who know more about

To most bloggers, educators, and retailers, though, a body-safe sex toy is something that is both non-toxic and non-porous.

The Exceptions to Body-Safe Sex Toy Materials

Taken a step further a body-safe sex toy means being certain that the metal alloys in metal toys are considered surgical-grade or marine-grade, like njoy’s 316 grade stainless steel or Crowned Jewels’ body-safe aluminum and titanium. Good stainless steel shouldn’t be highly magnetic. It also means that the glass has not been painted and non-toxic pigments in frit are the only pigments used. It means that the wood has been sealed with food-grade sealant (or medical-grade) that will not wash away. It means that only non-toxic food-grade pigments are used in ABS plastic or silicone.

The tricky part, then, is knowing the answers to those exceptions for every brand you buy. You can get to a safe and trusting place by only buying from brands endorsed by sex toy reviewers, sold by trustworthy retailers also endorsed by sex toy reviewers. I am always very wary of recommending unknown brands of metal sex toys especially if the brands are only found on sites like Amazon, AliExpress, and so on; I can also tell you that you are very unlikely to get a body-safe metal butt plug for under $25 – especially the jeweled kind.

I’ve given you the tools to know more about the safety of your glass sex toys but there are no easy, fool-proof home tests yet for metal. Wood sex toys are usually easier because, for the most part, manufacturers/crafters know what they’re putting on the wood as a sealant and are up front about this. This article talks about the sealants you should avoid. You can try your hand at flame-testing to determine if something is silicone or not – not all PVC and TPR looks like “jelly” so at first glance you may be unable to tell visually.

 

A body-safe sex toy doesn’t have to be expensive, either. Buy from a trusted retailer – not Amazon, AliExpress, Groupon, Ebay – and you can find many options to fit your budget. You can’t find many body-safe sex toys under $10, for example, but you can find hundreds under $35. I want you to have the best, safest experience possible and that starts by knowing your materials, the risks, and how to shop.

 

 

  1. clean it immediately before and after use with a mild soap, let it air-dry 100% before storing it in a dark environment, storing it by itself in unbleached cotton bags/wrapping