Lilly

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
Apr 032018
 

Black Lelo Sona Cruise on a gray knit backgroundYears ago I swore I’d never review another Lelo sex toy, but my commitment to trying most of the Womanizer and Satisfyer toys meant that I had to try the Lelo Sona Cruise, much to my dismay. For now, I can’t compare the Lelo Sona Cruise to the regular Sona but I feel like my assessment of the Sona Cruise is going to be enough and I really don’t want to go through the rigors of testing two of these horror shows. I’ve disliked my experience from first to last.

I was so extremely skeptical of Lelo’s claim to be doing the pressure air technology different – by incorporating sonic waves, aka sound waves – that I had to feel it for myself. Let me be clear, though: I still don’t support Lelo and I never will – I broke up with them years ago and my decision has been reinforced by their marketing choices and that terrible, troubling condom. I 100% feel that you can get an equal or better identical product by choosing Womanizer or Satisfyer over the Lelo Sona or Sona Cruise. Yet I’m still spending nearly 2,000 words talking about an inferior product that has made some people bleed because I’m thorough, damn it.

The Lelo Sona Cruise is…Sonic?

EffinBirds: "I read some shit on the internet, I'm an expert now" Lelo’s ad copy says: “SONA Cruise is a sonic clitoral massager. That means it doesn’t rely on vibrations like a conventional sex toy. Instead, it uses sonic waves and pulses to stimulate the entire clitoris – not just the external part you can see and touch.” 

I’m side-eyeing that real hard, folx. They’re right on one thing, it’s not relying on vibrations. Neither does the Womanizer brand or Satisfyer brand of pressure air pulsators. So basically Lelo is claiming to use SOUND. 

Yes, there is sound – there’s always sound. But I can see and feel the little fluttering gizmo that is producing the air pulse sensations, and it is just like the Womanizer and Satisfyer models. Do they feel the same? Mostly, yes. I think that the Lelo Sona Cruise is more intense right off the bat (not a great thing in my book) but I believe it’s because there’s less physical space between the fluttering motor and the point of clitoral contact. The nozzle is also thinner inside in width than most Womanizer and Satisfyer models; I noticed that that aspect also leads to a more intense sensation, like I saw in the Womanizer 2GO. For comparison, the inside width of the Lelo Sona Cruise nozzle is .454 inches or 11.53 mm, and it is circular – the smallest width of the oval Womanizer nozzle is 12.3mm.

Despite their “sonic” claims I cannot feel any discernible difference, other than initial intensity, from Womanizer and Satisfyer models. Yes, due to designs there is varying sensation between all of the Womanizer and Satisfyer models — some more intense, some less, some more thuddy, some more shallow/buzzy. A few people have reported to me that the Sona worked for them where a Womanizer or Satisfyer did not, but I don’t know why – maybe it’s an intensity thing? So yes, the short distance and narrow opening means the Lelo Sona Cruise is more intense right away compared to some other models, but I do not think it feels different enough to warrant the “sonic waves” claim.

What is this Cruise Control Bullshit?

EffinBirds: "Come back when you get your shit together"“Specially developed by LELO and exclusive to SONA, Cruise Control is a feature that reserves 20% of SONA’s full power during normal use, so that when SONA is pressed hard against the body and the motor begins to drop power, that extra 20% is unleashed so that there’s no reduction of intensity. It’s not a setting, it’s completely automatic, and it eliminates the single most common complaint against pleasure products.”

That…..It’s….That is not a Thing That Happens in these types of sex toys. I’ve never experienced a drop in motor power if I pressed a Womanizer or Satisfyer harder against my vulva. Not once. Yes, it feels different and maybe a little less intense but that’s not what they’re saying here. They’re saying specifically the motor drops power. Typical to Lelo’s infuriatin marketing tactics over the last 5 years they are inventing problems that don’t exist and then “solving” them. Yes, a traditional vibrator will see a power decrease as more pressure is applied but we’ve already established that this is not a vibrator. 

In practice the Cruise Control is simply infuriating and reminds me of the problematic Smart Wand’s “SenseTouch” which would supposedly increase the vibration the harder you pressed, except that many users found it would act erratically. I experienced that same erract behavior when using the Lelo Sona Cruise – sometimes it would seem to increase, and sometimes it would decrease. Sometimes the increase wouldn’t stop even when it was literally not touching my vulva, when I had it just hovering over my clitoris because the sensations were too intense.

Cruise Control is trash, for me. I don’t want to guess at the intensity level I’ll get – I want to have control over it. That’s why there are various intensity levels! Pick the one you want! I want it to stay at a lower intensity on the lower levels until I’m ready for something more. I’m actually laughing at the disparity in their name choice for this “feature”.  Cruise control in a car means you maintain the same speed so congratulations for naming it like you’re in Bizarro World.

I would hate the Lelo Sona about 20% less because it lacks the useless, horrible Cruise Control. So if you must, just get the regular Lelo Sona. But, I mean, still don’t get the Lelo Sona.

Patterns? What Fresh Hell is This?????

EffinBirds: "You are not capable of producing a useful result"Patterns. They’re controversial but most people don’t like them. They are the bane of my existence, they are the thing I almost always accidentally turn on and then frantically try to reverse. Patterns are what I only resort to if I’m trying to fool my clitoris into thinking the vibrations are more rumbly or more intense than they are, and it nearly never works out for me.

The Lelo Sona Cruise buttons are closely-aligned and difficult to distinguish by touch alone. Given how un-ergonomic I feel the entire design is, combined with the diminuitive size I hate, I’m usually pushing the wrong buttons. Entering into patterns on a pressure air sex toy, one that is already intense, is akin to that burst of pain you feel when you consume a hot or cold liquid and you have dental pain. That sharp, wrong-feeling, nerve-zapping makeitstoppppp feeling is what I felt any time I accidentally went into patterns.

To be honest, this feature alone would be enough to make me never pick up the Lelo Sona Cruise again, but wait…there’s more.

It’s Painful

The Lelo Sona Cruise caused me pain in two unexpected ways. The first was while holding it. It’s a combination of the size, the button placement, and the weird way the body of it bends away from you where the controls are. Every press of the button would rock the nozzle away from my vulva so I needed to keep an anchor on it by pressing my fingers around the back, and lower. It is awkward to hold in ways that straight-bodied models like the Pro40 or Satisfyer Pro 2 are not. I would actually rather use the potato with the pokey button, aka the Womanizer Pro 500 Deluxe Whatever They’re Calling It now.

The second way the Lelo Sona Cruise is painful to me took some time to figure out, and I may not have understood what was happening without Aurora asking me specifically if I’d ever heard of anybody bleeding after use. By the time she asked me I’d forgotton about this thread on Reddit where multiple people reported bleeding after use, and a few others on Twitter mentioned bleeding1. I can’t say that it made me bleed because I never paid attention (and didn’t know what was happening at the time) but I know that it cut my vulva a bit or irritated it to the point of localized pain. The last few times I used the Sona I had to pee shortly after and noticed that when I wiped, it hurt. Like an open cut. It wasn’t excruciating so I ignored it. I didn’t connect the two facts until I used it again after Aurora’s question and it hit me.

EffinBirds: "Our expectations for you were low, but holy fuck"The culprit is the short distance between the exterior opening of the nozzle and the “flappy bit” motor inside the nozzle that causes the air pulsation. No other pressure-wave sex toy has this short of a distance – not even the smallest Satisfyer or the smallest Womanizer. There is, without a doubt, a short enough distance between the edge of the nozzle of the Lelo Sona Cruise and the motor to allow a clitoris or labia to come into contact with semi-moving parts. I say “semi-moving” because there is a squishy skin-like membrane over the flappy bit. It’s not like there are sharp edges but it is enough to cause irritation to my vulva/clitoris.

How short of a distance? When the motor is on, the distance is halved; if I insert my pinky finger then it’s just equal to the distance between the tip of my finger and the base of my nail bed aka 7.8mm or .3 inches. That’s it.

This is ridiculous.

How the Lelo Sona Cruise Compares to Other Brands

Effinbirds: "Basically you're fucking incompetent"Given Lelo’s penchant for drastically overpricing everything they sell I’m absolutely shocked that the most expensive Sona is still considerably less expensive than the Womanizer brand. That said even though I strongly prefer and recommend the Womanizer brand over the Satisfyer brand I still would rather see you get a Satisfyer than a Lelo Sona.

Unlike the Womanizer and Satisfyer products, the Lelo Sona Cruise does not have a removable silicone nozzle for easier cleaning. Yes, this means that the Lelo Sona is covered in silicone (except for the large plastic plate on the backside) but it’s not a “good feature” to me. Unlike most Womanizer models the Lelo Sona Cruise has only one opening size and that opening is pretty small. This is not a sex toy for larger clits but given it’s penchant for cutting up smaller clits, it’s not for those either. It’s for NO clit.

When we talk about the pressure-wave air stimulators we have to talk about the noise level because despite not having a vibrating motor, these can still get kinda noisy. Lelo would, of course, have you believe that theirs is superior: “It’s quiet and restrained – perfect for users who need discretion.” Strangely, unlike most other models, the Lelo Sona Cruise gets much more noisy when the nozzle is covered. With most Womanizer and Satisfyer models they are a little noisy until they come in full contact with your vulva, then they are extremely quiet. Check out the Instagram video to hear the strange noises it makes. Also note the sounds you hear after I remove my thumb from the nozzle, you can hear the motor stepping back down in strength.

You’ll get much less use time out of the Lelo Sona Cruise, as well. Nearly all of the Satisfyer models give you 2 hours, and many Womanizer models boast use times of up to 4 hours on a single charge. Womanizer also gives a better warranty – 2 Years to Lelo’s 1 Year.  I’m not adding the Sona specs to the Womanizer vs Satisfyer guide spreadsheet but you can see how they compare.   

I can’t recommend the Lelo Sona Cruise, at all. I hate every single thing about it and feel that nearly any model of Womanizer or Satisfyer pressure air sex toys is equally as good or better. 

 

Much thanks to SheVibe for providing me with a Lelo Sona Cruise in exchange for my honest review!                                                                                                                                                              

 

  1. Check out Amber’s review too
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
Feb 132018
 

Gaia Eco on coral photographed against a wood backgroundYou are probably wondering why a reviewing veteran like me is talking to you about a $10 vibrator and the answer is: the material, the vibrations and the sheer novelty of liking a $10 vibrator. The Gaia Eco is *biodegradeable* and *recyclable* which is rare for sex toy materials. When this first came out and we read about the starch-based plastic a number of people imagined something much more delicate and single-use; something that might be made out of “starch” more than “plastic”. Rest assured it feels like plastic and acts like plastic; it won’t be disintegrating atfer a few washes. What’s more, the Biofeel bioplastic uses less energy and creates less greenhouse gas emissions to create. 

Just because I’m recommending this as a good “first vibrator” option doesn’t mean you should expect it to be weak – too often reviewers have attempted to sugar-coat mediocre or sub-par sex toys by proclaming their weak motors as “good for beginners”. I was once that beginner who kept trying buzzy, weak motors and thinking I was broken because, newbie to vibrations or not, I needed more. I knew because fingers could only get me off maybe 1 in 15 times and tongues nearly never. I knew I needed more but every review I read on retailer sites kept proclaiming the vibrators “powerful” when they really weren’t to me – power is subjective but you can’t ask Raina in Ohio any follow up questions.

Let’s get back to this cool bioplastic for a minute. I needed to know more so I went to Ducky. Here’s what Ducky told me:

The Gaia Eco line is made from a food grade bioplastic. Like ABS plastic, our bioplastic is nonporous and compatible with all lubricants. The toys will not break down. You can not just toss it in your recycling bin and expect it to be recycled, but a person can take this product to their local recycling center and they can recycle them there.

Biobased polymer need to be proceed in industrial composing units which have a measured dose of heat and microbes. In this environment the toys will degrade in 180 days. To toss it in a landfill or your home composting bin will not expose the vibe to the right elements. City recycling facilities should also separate the metals and electronics from the casing. Can we guarantee that every consumer will follow through? No. But the vibe does encourage conversations around how to recycle and the availability of sustainable plastics. 

So yes, it can be recycled but perhaps not as easily as tossing it in your blue bin. But at least we understand more about the material, now!

Gaia Eco Size - 7 inches long, 5.75 inches insertable, 1 inch wide, 3.5 inches circumference. The Gaia Eco is about as basic as a vibrator can get: Straight, rigid, battery-powered with a control dial on top for a range of steady vibrations. It’s slender and long enough for vaginal insertion (but not anal-safe!) and works really well as an external vibrator, too.  I personally don’t like this as an internal vibrator because I want a more girth and a lot more curve, but plenty of folks like this style for insertable use.

Here’s the kicker: the motor is actually pretty darn good. It’s powerful and fairly rumbly. A lot of cheap vibrators can be mild on the vibrations and surface-buzzy but the Gaia left me pleasantly surprised – so surprised that as it sat on my desk for months I kept turning it on briefly as if to remind myself that the vibrations weren’t something from a fever dream, they really were that good.  In fact, the power level is so good that if you have a sensitive clitoris and can orgasm fairly easily from just fingers it might be too powerful for you. The vibrations are concentrated in the tip and lower third. You do feel some residual vibrations in your hand as you hold it, but it’s not much. I didn’t find it irritating and the vibrations are definitely enough to get me off. I had a much easier time orgasming with this $10 vibrator than I did my first three Lelo vibrators.

You’d probably also expect a $10 vibrator to be loud and obvious but the Gaia Eco is quieter – and more powerful – than the Dame Fin, the JimmyJane Intro line, the Fun Factory Jazzie, or the Crave Bullet.

I’d recommend the Gaia Eco as a first vibrator because it will help you understand your body better: you’ll find out if your vagina/g-spot responds at all to vibration; you can see if you may prefer pinpoint or broad stimulation by using the very tip or the side against your clitoris and labia. You can use this to find out if any of your external parts like vibration – just don’t insert this up your butt. You’ll regret it. And hey, because it’s battery powered it makes a decent “whoops my other vibrators are in the shop1” back-up and even is good for travel – no accidental turn-ons and if you forget it you’re only out $10. It needs 2 AA batteries – I use Duracell copper-topped batteries. If you use rechargeable batteries you’ll get less oomph from the motor and, of course, as the batteries (any type) drain in power your vibrator will slow down, as well. 

 

Thanks to Blush Novelties for sending me the Gaia Eco in exchange for my honest review – you can find it for $9.99 at SheVibe in colors I can really get behind like aqua blue, spring green and coral pink. The coloring does have a lightly speckled look to it, like a robin’s egg!

  1. Because everybody forgets to charge their rechargeables at some point