Lilly

Sep 052018
 

After a lot of consideration – this weekend and this past year – and careful examination I’m requesting that my affiliate account with Tantus be closed immediately.

There is no one reason, or one bigger than the rest, but it’s a compilation of many reasons. A couple of them I knew a few years ago but didn’t act on, as they were told to me in confidence and when I outweighed the good of Tantus vs what I knew, the good of Tantus in the industry won out. And so, because they were not my stories to share, and because I could not afford to lose affiliate earnings at the time, I did nothing. I did not expect to be further disappointed years later, to be honest.

I couldn’t ignore the fact that Metis was a big supporter and educator against toxic, porous sex toys and that she gave that support and education to me. I wouldn’t be where I am without that. I’ve watched Metis stand by the bloggers publicly when they’ve called out the bad behavior of other companies so to see Metis and the Tantus social media accounts behaving this way now is extra disappointing to me. I sat in a session at Woodhull two years ago listening to Metis, among others, lecture about the best practice ways for companies to respond on social media when they’ve fucked up so the silence from all accounts, the absolute head-in-the-sand ignoring, is even more of a kick to the gut.

But for the last year or so, things keep happening with the social media, with the company, and more information is relayed to me privately and finally, I have hit the last straw. I can’t and won’t share the things relayed to me in confidence from others in the industry, but the things I’ve learned in the last year have shaken my beliefs in the good of Tantus. I’m incredibly disappointed in the actions of the owners. I still believe that Tantus makes good products, but I can’t support them anymore directly for ethical reasons. The stories shared with me in confidence are not mine to tell and telling them could have serious repercussions on those who told them – if they choose to tell those stories themselves, they have my full support.

To read more about the actions of Metis in correlation with a Woodhull issue last year, please see this thread from ChronicSexChat on Twitter, it’s an important read and a lot of risks were taken by Kirsten. They’ve done a lot of the hard work and it’s been ignored for too long. That thread was catalyst part one for this conclusion I’ve reached, and the actions on social media this weekend were the nail in the coffin of secrets I can’t brush away. Please see this thread from Sex Bloggess which details what happened this week. I stand by everything she’s said in it. Her words and feelings mirror my own. And while I can’t share the other stories, I can tell you that the reviews on GlassDoor line up with things I’ve been told, and seem to be the tip of the iceberg.

I have blacklisted other companies for less but the good doesn’t outweigh the bad anymore with Tantus.

I’ve been more and more absent from blogging over the last year and social media mostly over the last few weeks as I’ve had to make a difficult decision to focus my health first. My physical, and mental, health are at their worst and have been for a year, but I’ve been in certain levels of denial. My mental health has only been worse one time in my life – when my father died. My physical health has suddenly gone from not-very-good to bad enough that I’ve had to make major changes recently.

To preserve my health, I can’t fight more than this – this post, this email I’ve sent to Tantus, and this decision to lose that part of my income1. I hope that my actions highlight that they need to make major changes, NOW, and I hope that others respect the boundaries I’m setting for myself here. I’ve closed comments in part because there’s nothing else I can say on this matter, and because I don’t have the spoons for attacks, arguments, or even discussions or words of support. Again, boundaries. Thank you for understanding.

 

  1. Note that I can now make this decision that I couldn’t before, with regards to my income, for various reasons but I don’t expect that others can make that sacrifice. No one should be expected to, and their decision to keep their income needs to be respected
Aug 152018
 

At the Woodhull Sexual Freedom Summit this year I was a presenter, alongside Kenton (Funkit), to talk about sex toy myths specifically as they relate to sex toy materials. Pretty much everything we talked about is something I’ve already written about and I created a quick-and-dirty temporary page for Summit attendees to reference to, but decided to create a better post about it.

Sex toy myths are especially hard to dispell, even years later, because the misinformation still spreads. Every day, it seems, I have to gently (or, not so gently) correct a myth mid-spread. This list of links will mean very little to you, though, without seeing the session that inspired it.  You can see the video that was recorded live during the session below, with transcription/captioning done by Erika Lynae who also transcribed last year’s session that inspired this one. I suggest you take the time to read the transcript of the 2017 session to get a feel for why we felt so strongly about our own session, but it is not necessary. The video was filmed by Suz – thank you Suz!!! A bunch of great people live-tweeted during the session  so please check out the hashtag for it on Twitter, #sfsmyths. I encourage you to turn the captioning on because the sound isn’t all that great. I had no idea before the session how we’d be recording for live-streaming so I didn’t bring an extra microphone to better capture our voices.

Please note the best part of the captioning:

KENTON: [GLORIOUS DILDO REMOVAL POP]

AUDIENCE: [GASPS]

[APPLAUSE]

LILLY: The sex toy version of pulling a rabbit out of a hat!

Sex Toy Myths – The Material Basics

We touched on talking about the differences and similarities on material; basically TPR/TPE is a blanket term consisting of many recipes that vary from brand to brand, and these recipes nearly never have harsh plasticizers – but for some reason PVC jelly rubber does. PVC jelly rubber is a TPR, but we know a good bit of the recipe and we know the main ingredient, so we call it by it’s name. It’s like saying “Italian food” and then “Eggplant Parmesan” – everybody’s Eggplant Parm will vary a little, but we know it has Eggplant and cheese, and that it’s “Italian food”. In this strange analogy PVC is the Eggplant Parm and TPR is Italian Food. Here are a few Wikipedia links:

You can see from all of the lab tests that have been done that anything classified generically as TPR/TPE has never had phthalates.

Silicone is cured by various methods – addition-curing adds platinum or tin and this can be combined with room-temperature condensation cure (RTV). This means that “platinum” is not a grade, it’s the means of curing the silicone into a rubber-like elastomer. The only “grades” that can exist are the various medical grades and food grades. Companies can indeed use FDA-approved grades of silicone and pigments but this does not make the finished product FDA-approved.

Toxic Toys

We talked about how and why we continue to use the word “toxic” when we are talking about PVC and TPR toys, despite the fact that newer lab tests show a drastic decline in irritating, unsafe phthalates. I noted that while Doc Johnson’s PVC toys may not contain phthalates they do contain an additive they’ve dubbed “sil-a-gel” whose chemical composition is unknown but is an extreme irritant for many people.

I did touch briefly on the issues with porosity that include an increased risk for vaginal yeast infections, and you can read more about that here.

We discussed the long-standing unproven myth that covering problematic sex toys with condoms suddenly makes them body-safe; in short, no science has told us this protects us against the irritants or micro-organisms that may be present and that’s in part due to the fact that most porous toys will leach oil and oil destroys latex (the most commonly used condom type). While my recommendation to use polyurethane condoms still comes with a heavy caveat and uncertainty, I feel it’s got a slightly better chance at doing what we think it might do. However, maybe not. Until there are studies on this I don’t feel comfortable recommending it as a safety measure.

I also talked about the various definitions of body-safe, and I’ve written about it a little more extensively here.  For many more articles related to sex toy materials, visit the Toxic Toy landing page.

Silicone Lube and Silicone Sex Toys

At one point Kenton and I talked about how lubes affect materials; I reiterated the fact that oil doesn’t harm silicone as I’ve proven as much as is possible in an at-home experiment. I talked about how I’ve changed my stance on silicone sex toys paired with silicone lubes – definitely Not For Your Butt.

Kenton submerged some cured platinum silicone pieces in silicone lube and found that while that particular pairing didn’t “damage” the silicone toy, it certainly changed it. The toy absorbed lube and grew 20% in size and became 20% softer. This doesn’t change the porosity or how the pores react to water (they’re hydrophobic, which means no water which means no food for micro-organisms in the pores). It may create tears in the material because it’s now a little weaker than before, but you’ll see any tears quickly – they won’t stay small. Because the lube is absorbed, there won’t be lube left for your butt which is an absolute necessity for anal play. It’ll make it difficult and painful to remove the toy.

You could still use silicone lube for shorter external and vaginal use. I’ve personally never experienced lube-absorption with the Sliquid Silk hybrid lube but your mileage may vary. Check out a few of Kenton’s tweets in addition to his info in the session for more about silicone lube and silicone sex toys.

The Flame Test

We did talk a good bit about the flame test; why it’s used, how to read it, why the results were unexpected a few years ago. In short, silicone can burn and if it does catch a smoldering flame it’ll give you gray ash which is silica dust. It won’t get shiny or melt, it won’t burn like an oil lamp – all of that describes the reaction PVC and TPR will have to a flame. You’ll also usually get results sufficient enough to make a material determination in 5 seconds or less.

The flame test isn’t perfect and the inaccuracies from the early days continue to plague us with incorrect result readings but I feel confident enough with it to know what my materials really are when I do the test. I have performed the flame test enough times on known materials and received the expected results every time thus far. The flame test is really the only affordable, at-home “test” consumers can do if they doubt that a material is silicone as advertised.

We Don’t Need No Regulations

I talked about how sex toy companies can make any material claims they want, because no governing body regulates this. People are disturbed when they hear this and ask why the FDA doesn’t get involved and why I don’t want the FDA involved. The FDA wants money – a small fortune per SKU – and animal testing. The cost factors would prevent most sex toy companies from ever creating anything and would result in drastically fewer choices with vibrators always years behind on tech because FDA approvals can sometimes take years. I pointed out that the FDA has approved KY (gross) and Nonoxynol-9, a spermicide that was shown to increase STI transmission. The FDA is only concerned that the ingredients are “Generall Regarded As Safe” (GRAS list), not if they’re a known irritant. I’ve also noted in the Lube Guide that FDA-approved lubes don’t have to publish their ingredients list – so this would mean that probably the materials in the sex toy would remain a mystery, as well, and if so what is the damn point? Most companies utilize specific import/export codes to avoid being classed as a medical device and rely on the “Novelty Use Only” tags to help with this because if it is classed as a medical device, then FDA approval is required. The Novelty tag doesn’t necessarily mean that the manufacturer is setting out to deceive and harm you.

Sex Toy Myths About Silicone vs TPR

In the 2017 panel there were numerous arguments given for why they feel educators and reviewers are wrong for insisting on silicone for soft toys; the person heading up the panel was the publicist for Screaming O, a company that makes silicone and TPR sex toys. One point brought up was that nothing beats the realistic feel and the softness and the stretchiness of TPR or PVC. Nearly all mainstream penetrables/strokers are made of TPR or PVC, but Kenton pointed out a few of his products that showcase just how soft, pliable and stretchy silicone can be. The shore durometer he uses for his flogger can be stretched to 800 times it’s unstretched length. He even made a silicone penetrable stroker out of this same type of silicone. The better quality sleeves from brands like Fleshlight and Tenga are not what I would call affordable, so a large company buying silicone in bulk could in theory make comparably priced silicone masturbators. You can’t really see me pulling on the flogger in the video above but this is the de-molding video Kenton mentioned in the session for those who like hearing the satisfying sounds of silicone popping out of its mold. The stretchiness of it is fairly evident there.

They also argued price – that most of the silicone products we insist are better are not affordable to many people. Body-safe (non-porous) sex toys are becoming increasingly more affordable. I mentioned that SheVibe stocks nearly 500 body-safe sex toys, and they certainly don’t stock every body-safe sex toy on the market. I also only counted up the major categories such as clitoral, g-spot, classic, and mini vibrators; silicone and glass dildos; regular and vibrating butt plugs, prostate massagers, and anal beads. I’d counted up the number of individual models, not colors offered.

While I’ve got a comparatively small list of sex toys under $35 you can see from the count above that there are hundreds.

Other Bits and Bobs

We talked about cleaning methods a little; most of those are detailed on the Care and Cleaning guide page. You do not *need* high-priced UV sanitizing boxes to keep your silicone products safe. There are links to all the various posts about the Jar of Horrors (the TPR and PVC jar) on the Toxic Toys page, and this is the link to the post about the silicone jar.

I think I’ve covered everything here? If not, let me know! Have questions that didn’t get asked? Ask em here, we’ll do our best.

Jul 272018
 

As of the moment I publish this, winners have been selected. Check your email and respond! If I don’t hear from these first picks on any prizes within 3 days, I’ll move on to the 2nd-chance winners. Please check your spam folder before emailing me to ask if you won.

At some point in the first week of the contest people on Twitter started a ball rolling by talking about “Teenies”. I knew I wanted to report back after the contest with stats and such on the answers people gave to questions I asked but then it occured to me that I could use those to have a giveway-within-a-giveaway. I have 10 sets of mini teenies to give out and I’m giving them out based on singular answers that delighted me the most or to those who did really well overall answering the questions.

Count the Cats!

Let’s start with what ended up being the most difficult: Count the cat posts on Instagram. I ended up having to specify *actual cats* – not cats on products or me in cat-ear Snapchat filters. I did specify *posts* – and a single post can contain a picture, a video, a collage, or numerous pictures. So if the post had 10 cat pictures, like my tribute to our late cat in May, then it counted as 1 Post. There were also videos that weren’t as obvious by the thumbnail that they contained a cat, but that’s what made it a little less than easy. Between those things many more of you were wrong than right. The correct answer was 26 posts. If you’re super curious about the correct posts, click here to view a screenshot of my entire IG feed with the 26 posts highlighted.

Top 5 Disliked Companies

Over the years, I’ve been salty about a lot of companies both here and on social media. What do you think are my personal Top 5 Most Disliked Companies?

The top 5 that were picked most are Lelo, Pipedream, Jimmyjane, Shiri Zinn, and NS Novelties. I wondered why those, in particular NS Novelties because I’ve never written a specific post about them. Turns out it’s because they’re the first 5 companies listed on the Blacklist. I don’t have them listed in order of hatred, though!

It’s actually hard for me to quantify the Top 5. Sure, Lelo, Pipedream and JimmyJane are the Top 3. But those other two? As some of you pointed out, cases could be made for many to be tied.  Do I go with the smaller companies who’ve consistently been bad – bad products, shit ethics – like Shiri Zinn? Or companies who are widely known with a number of smaller infractions, creating a slow burn level of bullshit and lies but who aren’t 100% bad? I personally can’t choose between Shiri Zinn; Bad Dragon for their hideous ethics, mistreatment of others, and design theft; Screaming O, and Kiiroo. Or Fifi for those months of disgusting social media posts and their poor handling of it (and half-ass product).

The lube question was pretty easy and self-explanatory.

The Saltiest Review

Here’s another one that doesn’t have a clear winner for me: Which of my sex toy reviews is the saltiest? Let’s face it: when I’m mad about a product, I’m pretty fuckin salty. The landslide winner according to you is the Lelo Sona Cruise – is that because it’s the most recent, or because of the Effinbirds images? Many of you cited Effinbirds! Tracy’s Dog Flirt Rabbit was in 2nd place, but I personally consider that more of an investigative piece than a review since I didn’t actually use the product; I was just proving a point about their lies. A large number of you listed the post about my breakup with Lelo, or the post about the Lelo Hex – those are salty, for sure, but they’re not product reviews. Same with Can’t Buy My Love or my missives against Pipedream, Doc Johnson for their Sil-a-gel, or the post about Amazon.

Third place, nearly tied for second, is the Shiri Zinn Cupcake vibrator, fourth place is quickly followed by the “Supremely Offensive” Lovehoney Rockbox Finger. Fifth place is pretty much a dead-even tie between the Jimmyjane Form 3 and Form 4, the Dame Fin, the O Wand, the Hot Octopuss Queen Bee and the Fiera Arouser. There were overall 28 reviews that got votes, but one person stated that, after looking around, they felt my reviews were all so “nice” and not salty! I’m not sure they’re reading the same reviews as many of you were!

Some choices lines from various salty reviews:

  • Vibrators are my CEO, President and Head Bitch of the Orgasms Department. I am not willing to pay $145 for TEASING. I get that for free. (review)
  • If you’re going to proclaim “best”, “the most powerful” and other comparative statements in marketing, can you at least try to make it true in some way? (review)
  • It couldn’t even bring me within a mile of an orgasm. I have determined that it is nothing more than an overpriced gag gift. (review)
  • If you’re basing your entire opinion of the sex toy market from your experience shopping at Amazon? And mostly battery-powered vibrators, at that? You don’t know enough to make vibrators. (review)
  • The orgasm was a bit like a failed July 4th firework – You see the trail going up up up into the sky, you hold your breath and wait for the bang and burst but it never happens.(review)
  • If you hold the handle lightly enough while it’s inserted, then the handle is bobbing away ferociously outside your vag, with some weird rattling vibrations going on inside. It’s flat-out ridiculous.(review)
  • The people under the dome had a better chance of escaping than these poor, strangled vibrations. I’m not an engineer and even uneducated lil old me can see that this won’t work. Yet they did it anyway and you’re going to waste your money and they’re okay with that. (review)
  • I’m relieved that I can finally write this review and get it off my mind because I just don’t want to ever turn on, much less use, the Queen Bee again. I shouldn’t have to try this hard to get a sex toy to work for me. (review)
  • “Is tonight Ring-worthy?” will be a thing people will wonder. They will start to carve hashmarks in their nightstand to keep track of how many times their rings have been used and every 5th hash gets a new ring. It will spawn Lords of the Rings joke in the more geeky of couples. (review)

Which Myths Do I Talk About The Most

Next let’s talk about which sex toy myths I spend the most time fighting – and there are a few! I think the most common one is how people assume that silicone sex toys can’t be stored together and if they are they’ll “melt” – TPR and PVC will, but silicone will not. Ever since realizing more and more that the “cover it with a condom” thing is problematic and complicated at best, I spend a lot of time correcting people on it.  I do also have to correct flame test readings because people will think something is not silicone when it is. If I were on Reddit more (and I’ve basically vacated that toxic place) I would definitely say that the “there’s no ‘best’ sex toy” myth would be high up there – I have spent a lot of time and energy over the years bringing that one down and I have to touch on this more than I expected to with regards to manufacturer’s ridiculous claims.

Which Sex Toys Do I Hate Recommending

First up I hate recommending rabbit/dual-stimulation toys because of how many variables need to be met to ensure the sex toy is a good match for someone. I personally hate recommending vibrating cock rings because many are too weak or buzzy to be of much good to most people’s clitoris, or they won’t line up with the clitoris during sex for most people. They’re complicated and fraught with if/then statements that just make recommending them quite difficult. I also hate recommending “couples toys” that are specifically marketed as such because of many of the same reasons as I hate recommending rabbit vibes. And finally I hate recommending remote-controlled vibrators because quite frankly most of them fail to meet the qualifications that would make them “good”. All of the other options listed were simply things I don’t personally use much or review but CAN and will make educated recommendations.

Thank You!

Not everyone took the time to comment, or go a little above and beyond with their answers. For those who did, I especially thank you – it meant a lot! Thank you to the folks who so blatantly and hysterically tried to cheat – you made it easy to spot, and disqualify, you. Cheers! Thank you to the ones who shared posts and gave great insight on why that particular post mattered to them – it gives me a lot of insight into my readers! I’ve learned a lot from this giveaway, and I’m committed to slowly plodding on this blog for a little while longer. I may never return to the semi-regularity of posting that I once was able to do, thanks to working 45 hours a week at my day job, but I’m not closing things down just yet.

 Posted by at 11:20 am
Jul 022018
 

Womanizer Starlet in purple against a wood backgroundAs soon as I received the Womanizer Starlet from SheVibe I immediately wondered if somewhere in the marketing meetings there was a mix-up over at the company making Womanizer products and the ‘Starlet’ name was supposed to go to the large lipstick look-alike version. The classic red lipstick evokes Hollywood and glamour and feminine ways, all things that I think of when I hear the word ‘starlet’. The Womanizer 2GO is hailed as the travel version yet it’s comically large where the Starlet is comically small and can be compared, size-wise, to the Satisfyer Pro Traveler.

When I first read about the Womanizer Starlet I was intrigued and happy – finally, a Womanizer product under $100! But would the Starlet retain all of the features I’ve loved in the Womanizer brand? For a long time, despite the gendered name, I have been steadfast with preferring the Womanizer brand due to the build quality, the motor, and the features – features like the up/down/off buttons, long battery run, better head/nozzle, good range of intensity. I knew that the name, and the price, was such a big deterrent but I had good reasons. At this point, especially after hearing strong rumors that the (much better) Womanizer Pro40 is being phased out with the Starlet being kept as the “affordable option”, I’m losing my loyalty to this brand. Fair warning!

Showing size difference between Womanizer 2GO, Womanizer Starlet and Satisfyer Pro Travel

How the Womanizer Starlet is Different

Have you ever seen what is done to a drag race car to make it more lightweight therefore giving it more speed? They gut it. Seats? Bah. Who needs ’em. That’s kinda what they’ve done with the Starlet. They took away the thing I’ve loved about the Womanizer models – the buttons. The Starlet has just one button to do it all. I notoriously like being able to skip around up and down the settings as I need more intensity, then less, then way less, and suddenly more more whoa nelly stop and back to level 1. Can’t do that with one button. They also nerfed the battery life, giving you a mere 30 minutes run time.

Another aspect I’ve loved is that the Womanizer models – at least the Pro40, W100, Pro 500, and Plus – had lower-intensity levels. The sensation you get from Womanizer and Satisfyer pressure wave air products kinda almost requires an easing-in. Every model that just jumps straight to serious intensity has been too intense for me. The Womanizer Starlet, having only 4 settings, kicks things off in high gear and it’s too high for me.

To save space and money they also did away with the wider-opening head. Sure, you can buy it yourself but it’s not included.

And a feature that has never mattered to me personally, the waterproofness, has been nerfed to just “splashproof” – no underwater playtime with the Starlet.

Showing the difference in the nozzle and body of the Womanizer Starlet vs Satisfyer Pro Travel

What I Like

I like to masturbate at my desk, often, pants on and everything. All the other Womanizer models made this difficult due to the elongated handles. The Womanizer Starlet makes this possible. It also makes it possible to tuck into a pair of snug panties while laying down and let it do its thing, hands-free.  Could this also mean that the Starlet is easier to use during partnered sex? I can see that, yes. But I feel like the intensity of it combined with stimulation from my partner would put a serious expedite on my orgasm – which can be good or bad.

Laying down in bed my use is more limited. My reach and flexibility makes using this while laying down a little bit tricky. Luckily the single-button placement is at least in the best spot – the side opposite the nozzle, the side away from your body, so the button isn’t buried in my labia the way it is with the Satisfyer Pro Traveler

I also like the micro-USB charging cable. They started off with that style in the original model and the Pro 500 but lost it in the Plus and Pro40. If everything could be micro-USB cable compatible, multiple-vibrator owners would be SO happy.

Unlike the 2GO, the Womanizer Starlet feels much more travel-friendly. I don’t need a plastic cap to pretend something is travel-friendly. The tiny size of the Starlet means it’ll fit in an array of little satin pouches alongside the small USB cable.

 

What I Dislike

Everything I loved about the length of the Plus is lost in the Womanizer Starlet. Every feature I love in the Pro40 is gone from the Starlet. Honestly the Womanizer Starlet feels like a good idea that needs a little more time and work. It’s overpriced for what you get. Fewer settings, fewer controls, no extra head for different sensations/bodies, lack of waterproofness. It does also seem to be a little more noisy than its higher-priced siblings, which doesn’t surprise me. And the battery life? YIKES. I can get many sessions from the other Womanizer products but not the Starlet. Battery life on the Starlet is a meager 30 minutes – but charge time is also only 30 minutes.

As noted above they took away my favorite features like lower intensity levels and multiple control buttons – these are features that made me pick the Womanizer. I had had high hopes for a $79 Womanizer but instead, I think I’m going to recommend the newest Satisfyer Pro 2  – the Next Gen model finally brings in extra buttons to their flagship model! Satisfyer still lacks the dual head sizes, and I do still prefer the style of the Womanizer head but when given the chance during testing to use the Womanizer Starlet or the Satisfyer Pro 2 Next Gen? I picked the Pro 2. And it’s currently $15 less than the Womanizer Starlet (but lacks a warranty). If you can afford to spend a bit more money then my pick is the Womanizer Pro40 or Plus if you’re flush with cash however rumors as of this writing are that Womanizer is yet again toying with discontinuing the Pro40 to leave the Starlet function as their “lower cost” option and rake is as much as possible from the overpriced upper models. To be honest this decision might be the thing that brings down my Berlin wall of approval between Womanizer and Satisfyer.

The dictionary defines ‘starlet’ as “a young actress with aspirations to become a star” and I feel like that is pretty accurate – the Womanizer Starlet has aspirations but probably isn’t ever going to become the star of the lineup.

 

Thanks to SheVibe for sending me the Womanizer Starlet in exchange for my honest review!

Jun 292018
 

I heard you wanna win some sex toys? Well, celebrating 10 years of blogging is certainly an auspicious occasion deserving of a good giveaway! Often, my giveaways have a theme; if not a theme, then a core tenet: I give away the things I love from the companies I love. Since I needed to include some items this time that aren’t my own personal favorites, I made a point to only include products and companies here that I respect, that have impressed me over these last ten years.  What this means for you, dear readers, is that this giveaway is perhaps a little less splashy than you might have expected from someone celebrating a decade of blogging.

Let’s face it: I’ve never carefully planned anything in my life and I fell into blogging and reviewing on a whim, on a quest. And, quite frankly, for someone with ADD who never managed to finish a semester with her class notes in order, and intact, the fact that I’ve lasted as long as I have as a damn miracle!

I want to thank the following retailers for being impressive, generous to me and their community, for growing and changing, for educating: Shevibe, Early to Bed, Come As You Are, Vibrant, Betty’s Toy Box, Sugar, SelfServe, Toolshed Toys, and Stockroom. I also want to give a nod to equally amazing retailers who weren’t able to participate this year: Smitten Kitten, QToys, As You Like It, SheBop, Spectrum Boutique, The Pleasure Garden, and probably a few more my brain is blanking on.

The manufacturers I’ve included have also all made a big impression on me over the years – whether it’s their ethics, their amazingly orgasmic toys or a blissful combination of all that and a bag of superb social media presence: Funkit Toys, Crystal Delights, Standard Glass, Tenga and Tenga Iroha, Tantus, Blush Novelties, Tails n Portholes, Exotic Erotics, Hole Punch, Nobessence, DoDil, Sheets of San Francisco, Njoy, Je Joue, Agreeable Agony, New York Toy Collective, Split Peaches, We-Vibe, Womanizer, Aslan, Doxy, Vibratex, Eroscillator, Sola and Fun Factory. A nod to the lube makers who don’t burn our bits: Sliquid, Coconu, Good Clean Love, Uberlube, Sutil, Probe, Yes and The Butters. And while Kink Academy isn’t a manufacturer or retailer, they are a phenominal educational site that has been supportive of me and the community. And RGNToys is actually a distributor, but run by an amazing woman whose ethics made me reconsider Doxy as a company. Manufacturers I still love but couldn’t get on the list are L’amourose, Minna, Lumberjill, Vixen, BS Atelier, Crowned Jewels, Spareparts, Fucking Sculptures, and more.

 

A scatter collage of ten njoy pure wands

Ahhh the one and only njoy Pure Wand. I first reviewed it in 2008 and it truly ruined me for all future dildos. If not for the beautiful colors found in other products I could easily give up every other dildo I own, I think, probably, if I could just keep my Pure Wand. It’s the only sex toy that can occassionally make me squirt, and it provides the intense G-spot stimulation I need.  Thanks to the generosity of Sugar, Self Serve Toys for each providing a Pure Wand and njoy themselves providing FIVE (plus me taking advantage of a Walgreens whoopsie) I have TEN PURE WANDS to give away, one for every year of blogging.  Please note that 5 of these (provided by and shipped by njoy) are available Internationally (with exceptions1 while the rest are limited to the US. 

 

This next one is it’s own bundle of products – This is a 2-bundle-and-a-runner-up section! These two bundles are open to anyone in the US – if you’re outside the US I’d ask that you pay for the shipping via Paypal. Shipping weight is less than a pound.

Bundle 1, the Sex Toy Pins contains:

Bundle 2, the Queer Bundle has:

  • the Token Queer pin I got from Gold + Mean;
  • Queer Sex Ed For All pin from Isabella Rotman
  • 1 hanky and a fold-up tote bag from NYTC
  • plus their Gender I Don’t Know Her patch
  • and one each of their Hanky Code, Platypus and Gender pins
  • and the Butch Please keychain.

Runner-up will receive a hanky, a Gender patch, and one each of the hanky code pin and gender pin (plus some cool little stickers from Sugarbones).  

 

These prizes are limited to the United States OR International2 if you’re willing to pay for the shipping yourself via Paypal.  Prizes include:

 

These prizes are available to residents of US, Canada, and a couple other countries – it varies depending on the item so check it out in the footnotes.

This last set of prizes is available mostly-worldwide – except for the places sex toys can’t get past customs, etc. There are some restrictions that vary from company to company, so pay attention in the footnotes!

 

A few rules & restrictions: Make sure you use a valid email address – chosen winners will have Three Days to respond to me or I’ll choose someone else. Those who live outside the area and enter to win a product they need to pay shipping for need to then pay for that shipping cost (I’ll let you know the $) within 5 days. Any winners outside the US are responsible for paying any customs fees that may occur. I reserve the right to delete entries that are from the same household, entries where you’ve claimed to do the thing and then didn’t, or entries from social media accounts that exist only to enter contests.  <— It seems that that part was not clear enough: one person per household may enter. If you break this rule, all entries will be invalidated. If you do some entries now and some later, make sure you do it under the same Gleam login. If your social media accounts exist just for or 90% for entering giveaways, then your social media entries will be invalidated. I reserve the right to invalidate entries if they do not comply with the requested action and are therefore incorrect or appear to be cheating. If you appear to try to be cheating on multiple entries then all entries are invalid. In short, just do what you said you did in the giveaway widget. Be decent.

IMPORTANT: Read this before you enter! You must choose your prizes, and your choice must be listed the way it is listed below and you cannot make changes once your entry is submitted. Copy/paste the item name from the list if you need to, to get it right. Please consult the footnotes for International shipping restrictions by prize. Pick 1-4 prizes and list them in order of your preference, from most wanted to least wanted.

  • Njoy Pure Wand (US)
  • Njoy Pure Wand (INT)
  • Bundle 1 – Sex Toy Pins
  • Bundle 2 – Queer Pins and Accessories
  • Standard Glass Rainbow Dildo
  • Whispers of Fire Chaos Flogger
  • Restraint Kit (Wrist cuffs, Collar, Leash, Agreeable Agony Rope Kit)
  • Exotic Erotics Orca and Yacuruna Minis
  • Exotic Erotics Small Corn
  • Tails n Portholes Rainbow Male Nereid
  • Crystal Delights Princess Plug
  • Crystal Delights Twist Dildo
  • Funkit Toys Custom Pride Colors B1 Dildo
  • Tenga Flip Hole
  • Womanizer Plus
  • Eroscillator Top Deluxe
  • Sola Cue
  • Aslan Jaguar Harness + Fuze Velvet Bundle
  • Tenga Iroha Plus Vibrator Choice
  • Swan Wand
  • Sheets of San Fransisco Black Throw
  • Blush Pride Picks + Nude Impressions 01 Bundle
  • Womanizer Pro40
  • Hole Punch $125 Gift Card
  • We-Vibe Tango
  • We-Vibe Rave
  • We-Vibe Anniversary Kit
  • Split Peaches Unicorn Horn
  • Magic Wand Rechargeable
  • Je Joue Mimi Soft
  • Fun Factory Stronic G
  • DoDil
  • Doxy Die Cast
  • Nobessence Fling
  • Tantus Butt Plug Trio
  • Lube Bundle
  • Hot Octopuss Pulse III SOLO

10 Salty Years Giveaway

  1. Due to a US embargo and some countries not allowing sex toys through customs, these cannot be shipped to Thailand, Saudi Arabia, Maldives, UAE, Vietnam, Malaysia, India, Crimea, Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Sudan, Syria
  2.  Due to a US embargo and some countries not allowing sex toys through customs, these cannot be shipped to Thailand, Saudi Arabia, Maldives, UAE, Vietnam, Malaysia, India, Crimea, Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Sudan, Syria
  3. Shevibe can ship to US, AU, UK, CA, NZ, IE
  4. CAYA will ship to US and Canada
  5. Tenga Shipping limited to North America, Europe and Oceania
  6. Hole Punch can send to US and CA
  7. Sheets can send to US, CA, and EU
  8. Blush can send to US and CA
  9. Early to Bed can ship to US and CA
  10. We-Vibe–Due to a US embargo and some countries not allowing sex toys through customs, these cannot be shipped to Thailand, Saudi Arabia, Maldives, UAE, Vietnam, Malaysia, India, Crimea, Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Sudan, Syria
  11. Split Peaches – Due to a US embargo and some countries not allowing sex toys through customs, these cannot be shipped to Thailand, Saudi Arabia, Maldives, UAE, Vietnam, Malaysia, India, Crimea, Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Sudan, Syria
  12. RGNToys –Due to a US embargo and some countries not allowing sex toys through customs, these cannot be shipped to Thailand, Saudi Arabia, Maldives, UAE, Vietnam, Malaysia, India, Crimea, Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Sudan, Syria
  13. Betty’s – cannot ship to Alabama, Russia, Brazil, Mexico, India, Egypt/Saudi Arabia/Iraq/United Arab Emirates/Muslim customs, Singapore, Philippines
  14. No country restrictions from Vibrant
  15. Nobessence cannot ship to: CRIMEA – REGION OF UKRAINE, CUBA, IRAN, NORTH KOREA, SUDAN, or SYRIA.
  16. No country restrictions from DoDil
  17. View Hot Octopuss shipping locations here: https://www.hotoctopuss.com/worldwide-delivery-options/
  18. Tantus cannot ship to the following locations: “GoPost Addresses, to Alabama, Russia, Brazil, Mexico, India, Egypt/Saudi Arabia/Iraq/United Arab Emirates/Muslim customs, Singapore, Philippines, or to International PO Boxes”
 Posted by at 8:37 am
Apr 182018
 

It’s always been my personal opinion that, for most people and circumstances, simple sex toy cleaning methods are generally best. I’ve never liked “sex toy cleaner” solutions and have made my own simple cleaning wipes. But today I want to talk about the UV Light sex toy cleaning boxes that have been added to the lineup recently. Using UV-C light to kill wigglies isn’t new – I bought a similar item to keep my toothbrushes clean a few years ago. And sure, UV-C will kill stuff, but as Kenton so eloquently put it to me: “but, other things don’t not kill stuff”.  A year ago there was another brand selling a UV-C light box, Dorr. SheVibe doesn’t carry it anymore; I so far can only find it on shadier sites like AdamEve, Sextoy.com, and Amazon. It’s considerably cheaper than the UVEE, but also seems to be smaller and doesn’t double as a charging station.

In this post I’m focusing on the selling points that UVEE is making for their product (and against other cleaning methods) because I feel it’s important to look critically at their claims to help you decide if the expensive light box is worth it.

ETA: For further information on sanitizing standards and more, start with this article on sanitizing via your dishwasher. In the first paragraph there are links to articles about sanitizing, disinfecting, and more.

I keep getting approached to review the UVEE sex toy cleaning box by the company and every time I’ve been approached, I’ve fired back with a lot of questions. They have always answered me, but I’ve never been quite convinced that the UVEE is something I should recommend to my readers. Sometimes it’s a money issue I keep coming back to – most of my readers can’t afford to drop $120 and up for something that isn’t going to get them off. Mostly it’s a “but this isn’t really necessary” issue combined with a little “yeah, but, will this actually work?” skepticism.

One of my biggest complaints about the UVEE isn’t actually about the UVEE system itself, but the fact that they seem to be using scare tactics to tell you that whatever cleaning method you’re using, it isn’t enough. On their site: “Bottom line, you can clean your toys but without UV-C you can’t sanitize them.” This feels dangerous, to me, because then people may think “well I can’t afford the UVEE and nothing else is effective, so why bother?” But last year the Head of Operations said this: “Yes, there are ways to sanitize without UV-C, including bleach, alcohol, and soap & water. However, we don’t believe this is something the average person actually does.”

That last line contradicts their current website claims.

Wherein They Put Down Alcohol and Bleach

Recently their latest PR company contacted a number of bloggers with a list of bullet-points that counters every cleaning method I’d asked them about in the past when they’d reach out, and they claim that UV-C light is superior to all of these things1. When I got to the bullet point that says, and I quote: “Alcohol and bleach – can destroy surface materials and change body’s natural pH balance”, well, I think you know my reaction.

I specifically countered to them the last time that these two cleaning methods are well-accepted by many medical organizations as a way to disinfect. And most bloggers and educators will take the time to explain to people that you do not just pour on unadulerated bleach, let it air dry, and go forth and fuck. You use a solution of bleach and water (10% bleach, 90% water) and then you rinse it off well with water or mild soap and water.

This means there’s not anything left on the sex toy to harm your body, right? When I Google “will bleach on your sex toy harm your pH” I see the same, generic rhetoric without anybody linking to a study that details whether or not this effect happens if the person does not rinse/wash the evaporated alcohol/bleach off the sex toy. When I see a study that tells me otherwise, I will change my opinion on alcohol and bleach cleaning. Until then, I decided to run a little experiment and y’all know how I love doing that. More on that in a minute.

And alcohol? Rubbing alcohol can sometimes create swelling of silicone but that will return to normal as you let the item air dry. It doesn’t cause any lasting harm. Some sex toy manufacturers may caution against using it because of this temporary swelling, due to customer complaints and customers thinking their item is defective. It is also possible (but I have no idea on the liklihood) that rubbing alcohol could do harm to a polyurethane coating which sometimes exists on silicone products.

When I asked the person I go to the most these days for science-y stuff (Kenton, if you haven’t figured that out by now), his response told me all I needed to know about their claims against alcohol and bleach. I also work at a company that uses silicone products and cleans them with alcohol, to no detriment.

The pH Experiment

It’s pretty simple – Start with a water-based liquid solution. Test the pH. In a different container let a silicone sex toy hang out in something with a very different pH, rinse it, then put the sex toy in the control liquid container and swish it around and re-test the pH of the control liquid. I started with tap water (pH was around 6.5) and used vinegar because that’s what I easily had on hand at the moment. Vinegar had a pH of somewhere around 3. When I then put the vinegar-soaked-and-then-rinsed silicone back in the tap water and re-tested the pH of the water I found no change to the pH.

While this is a very rudimentary experiment, the experiment combined with the expert input from others tells me that it’s not going to change your body’s pH to clean sex toys in rubbing alcohol or bleach so long as you rinse (water or soap and water) and then air-dry if you used alcohol.

Boiling Water Isn’t Good Enough?

They also tried to tell us that “Boiling water will not kill bacteria and can damage the toys”. Again, context. Are you talking about a vibrator? They do mention electronics on the website but not in their PR pitch. Sure as hell that’ll destroy a vibrator. But most bloggers and educators take the time to spell out “don’t put anything with a motor in boiling water”. We also tell folks that it needs to be in the boiling water for about 10 minutes – dildo soup! They also state that a dishwasher can damage toys. Yes, it can, if people aren’t educated to avoid using detergent in the cycle and if they put a toy with a motor in there. From what I’ve read a dishwasher can only sanitize your sex toys if the dishwasher has a sanitize cycle – anything less and you’re just getting them a little more clean.

Sex Toy Cleansers

And then they talk about sex toy cleaning “foams and gels”, which as I’ve said, I dislike. They’re not necessary, especially in light of using affordable, readily available, rubbing alcohol and bleach (diluted). Unless you have an active infection or plan to use a sex toy between untested partners or plan to use a sex toy between ass and vagina, mild soap and warm water are enough. Mild soap, warm water, and a few minutes of rubbing are what every doctor will tell you to employ to keep yourself healthy during cold and flu season, yet somehow this is not good enough for sex toys?

However, my final skepticism comes from, well, good ole sex-toy-industry-skepticism. They can tell me they have run lab tests. They can show me the lab tests. But what do I have at home to prove that the UV light is killing whatever might have been on the sex toy in the first place?

Nothing. This may come off very conspiracy-theory because there’s also nothing telling me that I’ve gotten my sex toys disinfected at home with my own methods, right?

It Cleans What It Sees

Here’s the other aspect of UV-C light being used to sanitize: It can only clean what it sees, essentially. The light has to hit the spot. The UVEE box has lights on the bottom and top and seems to do a pretty good job of avoiding shadows but I don’t think  it’s foolproof for every sex toy. Because you can’t see what’s happening, you won’t know if you missed a spot with the light. When I’m cleaning by hand I can feel pretty confident that I’ve washed all the surfaces.

Porous Materials and UV-C Light

I also asked about the porous materials, at one point, because if UV light could sanitize a porous material then that could be very awesome. Most people who buy porous sex toys cannot afford the UVEE, but I’m thinking specifically about the people who spend money on masturbation sleeves like Tenga and Fleshlight – they’re not cheap! Because the UV light can only kill what it can “see” it’s surface-only for opaque materials – which is no better than any other cleaning method since we know that bacteria, yeast and other things can make a home down in the pores. If it’s completely clear, then it’s possible. There are clear Fleshlight sleeves, and you can remove them from their cases, so I will cautiously approve it for that. The Tenga Flip Hole material may also be clear enough for this to work, but again…without an indepedant lab test I am extremely reluctant to tell you it’ll work. I’d want to cut into the product to make sure it sanitized down into the pores.

Specifically, here is what I was told from the company:

The UV-C light can eliminate bacteria as deep as light can penetrate. Light can penetrate deeper (even all the way through) in lighter/ clear/more transparent toys than it can darker or more opaque toys. We have tested our systems on many of the materials that pleasure products are made out of including jelly (which is quite porous), our study found our system to be over 99.9% effective at eliminating bacteria, which is 3-5 times more effective than foam and spray cleaners. Bacteria is killed quickly under UV-C light but our systems run longer than the time necessary to kill the bacteria, this gives more time for the light to penetrate materials. Also, we did a specific study on “complex devices”, specifically the Magic Wand. This is called a crevice test, and we were able to prove that our system is 99.9% effective at eliminating bacteria on complex devices as well. As you know, these devices are not water proof and problematic to properly clean in the nooks and crannies. 

 

A reader recently asked me about combining the UVEE with a Womanizer, because they felt that the Womanizer was hard to thoroughly clean. Again I am concerned about the “shadows” in the nozzles and that that therefore makes it possibly less effective than the following method: Remove the silicone nozzle and wash it in soap and water or soak it in a 10% bleach solution for 10 minutes – followed by a thorough rinse and air dry. Use a Q-tip or paper towel corner to get some rubbing alcohol swabbed inside the hard plastic nozzle of the toy, or just soapy water. Rinse and dry thoroughly. Re-assemble.

The bottom line is that the UVEE system will appeal to a small percentage of folx, and that’s fine. I’m not here to shame your choice in the matter and I’m not here to say that the UVEE, or similar products, are 100% useless. I’m writing this because the claims made in favor of the UVEE system, claims which put down perfectly good (and accessible) cleaning methods feels wrong and dangerous. I want people to understand that they do not *need* UV light to clean their sex toys properly and thoroughly.

If you absolutely hate taking the time to properly clean your sex toys then by all means get that UVEE system. If you’re in situations where sex toys will be shared – or used anally and then vaginally – and you’re not able to get easy access to alcohol or bleach, etc, then a UV light box could be right for you. If you don’t have the spoons or physical ability to clean things properly every time, that’s valid, too. Get that UVEE. But I want to offset the marketing buzz with some logic, education, and a healthy dose of skepticism.  Unlike the creators of UVEE I feel that the general population of sex toy owners doesn’t need such an expensive tool for cleaning, it’s a niche product.

  1. these claims are also on the website
 Posted by at 10:39 am