Oct 212015


The We-Vibe Tango is my all-time favorite vibrator because it delivers on rumbles and power like no other pinpoint clitoral vibrator can. It’s versatile, too. But the biggest complaint is that there is no travel-lock setting on it, which makes air travel with the We-Vibe Tango next to impossible. People fear that it will just turn on in their luggage, prompting chaos as it is mistaken for a bomb. When you have only a single, exposed push button that doesn’t require you to press and hold for a few seconds, accidental turn-ons can happen. That said…I’ve traveled with the Tango in my luggage/purse a bunch of times1, and have never had anything accidentally press the button hard enough to turn it on.

But I still wanted to find a protective case in part because people ask me about traveling with it a lot (actually, they often ask: what else can I bring that has a travel lock that is as good as the Tango and the answer is always NOTHING). And I finally found something that is 99% perfect. I scoured Amazon2 for a case that fit what I needed: 3.5″ long inside, not round, hardshell, affordable (preferably Prime shipping, too). After a few returns, I found one that comes as close to perfect as we’ll get until Standard Innovations takes my idea and runs with it3.

The Brainwavz case may not be your favorite colors, I know, but it doesn’t seem to come in any color other than a black case with a red zipper and red pockets inside. The reasons why it’s nearly perfect: It’s rectangular on the 3.5″ side, which means the Tango isn’t going to move around any. It’s snug in there on the diagonal and this means that the button is protected. It’s a hard shell case, so it can’t get crunched in your bag and have the button inside pressed. The pouches inside perfectly keep the Tango and charger in place (it can fit the cable and charging piece just fine, or you can put the cable elsewhere and just have the charging connector in the case). The zippers are good quality and the overall pouch can flex slightly….which leads me to the reason I said it’s 99% perfect. It’s a fraction smaller than 3.5″ on the diagonal inside the case, which means the Tango is very snugly in there and slightly deforms the case a bit on the corners4. It’s not enough that it affects the ability for the case to be zipped, it doesn’t strain the zipper and in time it’ll probably conform to your Tango better without the case looking slightly wonky.

Brainwavz1 Brainwavz2 Brainwavz3

As you can see in the close-up picture, the button of the Tango essentially has a protective dome over it because of the way it’s in the case. I’ve tried everything I could think of, nothing I did to the case turned the Tango on. Like hearing angels sing I knew I finally found a safe way to travel with the We-Vibe Tango, worry-free.

Since it’s apparently not an obscure brand of earphones, Brainwavz Audio, I found the exact same case at Amazon Canada and Amazon UK. It’s available on Prime everywhere, looks like. Right now it’s around $10USD, $13CAD and £9.

  1. not by plane, though but it was often just rolling around naked in my bag
  2. No sex toys, but for other stuff yes I’ll occasionally shop there
  3. Would I get royalties? That’d be awesome
  4. This deformity only applies to the NEW Tango, the one that comes in bright blue, hot pink or white (with the kit) – if you have an older model Tango or Salsa then it fits perfectly without pushing the edges of the case, while still being perfectly snug and safe
 Posted by at 10:30 am
Oct 142015

SilicaGelSilicone. It’s the “gold standard” material of sex toys for most, and it’s also the material we’re the most leery about. You see, for years we were tricked. For years we were sold silicone sex toys that were anything but, because there are no regulations and they can tell us it’s made of fucking unicorn poop and wouldn’t get into trouble. So we started taking a lighter to it and calling it out when we’d find something that didn’t deliver on its claims. The industry seems to have gotten a lot better with silicone usually being silicone, and us seeing more affordable silicone options.

But we still have a lot of confusion. I recently cleared up the whole Sil-a-gel debate (additive; not material) but I keep getting asked about Silicon and “Medical Grade Silica Gel”. Take a guess at where we’ve heard the latter. Come on, I’ll give you three guesses. Yep, AMAZON. Ebay. AliExpress. So I decided I had no choice but spend some money and see what is what.

Is Medical Grade Silica Gel Even a Thing??

The term “medical grade silica gel” is coming up so often on the sites I don’t recommend you shop at for a major reason: I suspect it’s a language barrier thing. When you see it you can assume that the listing is made by one of those companies that is selling knock-offs and cheap crappy toys straight from the China plant they were made in. Most of the items listed on Amazon as “medical grade silica gel” shipped from China; it was hard for me to find some that were on Prime (because I’m cheap AND impatient). The other thing I notice: On most listings that say “medical grade silica gel” they ALSO say “medical grade silicone” somewhere in there, or just silicone. The only thing I can find for silica gel is the desiccant stuff; it’s found in hard pellets. It’s related to silicon. It’s NOT a sex toy material and should never be trusted. I think that if you see something listed as this, run the other direction. You have a 2 out of 3 chance that it’s not silicone.

The first item I picked, I picked because it obviously wasn’t silicone – the material is crystal clear. This rabbit is weird and cheap and who would want soft spines?? Anyway, what’s interesting is now the listing mentions nothing of medical grade silica gel, or silicone. You can see in the screencaps below that it used to. It’s now listed properly as TPE.  It’s a good thing I got screencaps; I did that initially because I assumed that at some point they would stop selling the item. I didn’t realize some would actually change the material listing.

SilicaGel6 SilicaGel7

The second item I chose because it looked like it *could* be silicone, and it was cheap and didn’t come directly from China. On Amazon, it’s called  Utimi brand – the rabbit up above did come in branded packaging that said Utimi, but this blue thing came branded as Shaki. Hey, it’s not the first time they called it one brand on Amazon and I got another. This Utimi brand also wasn’t the only brand I tried to purchase – I tried to purchase two others of a different brand, from a different seller, but they both were canceled. The listing showed something like “12 in stock” but then shortly after ordering it was canceled. They wrote to tell me they’re sorry, it’s out of stock. And never coming back in. And here’s a refund. It felt kinda shady, if I’m honest. Oh have I mentioned that my user profile on Amazon links to my blog? Is that relevant? hmmm

SilicaGel3 SilicaGel4

And the third item is a little bunion-protector/toe separator. I’ve seen these and similar foot things on the site just as silicone, or as the silica gel. I actually purchased something similar a few months back, looking for a cushioning heel cup. I thought the material felt identical to the Tenga Eggs, but since I wanted to return the item I chose not to burn it. There are a ton of these on the market, most are listed incorrectly in terms of material, and the material looked a lot different than the rabbit. Since the “frost” sorta reminds me of the white O2 layer on some Tantus toys, I thought there actually was a chance it could be super-soft silicone.

SilicaGel2 SilicaGel1

The burn verdict: The crystal clear rabbit was obviously not silicone, but we knew that just by looking. The material lit up easily and burned like an oil lamp, the material merely melting/deforming. No ash. The blue thing behaved exactly like silicone – a scorch mark I wiped away, ash when it finally caught a bit of a burn, not much material destruction. The toe thing? Behaved just like the crystal clear rabbit – it burned bright, hot and easily with obvious deforming/melting and no ash.


The use of silicon vs silicone doesn’t really seem to be a cultural thing or a language-barrier thing; I’ve seen all variety of people misusing this term. It becomes even more confusing then, and makes us side-eye real hard, when a manufacturer rep uses that term on social media.

Silicon (Si) is not silicone. Not even close. It does eventually make up another awesome sex toy material though – glass. Guess where else it’s naturally found? Quartz. This isn’t something that eventually makes up your average soft dildo, folks. Whether it’s a typo or just a lack of understanding of science and the elemental chart, the use is too common and should be corrected whenever you see it. Does seeing it being used mean that they may be lying? I’m not sure. It’s too easy to mix up the two when you are not paying attention to basic material information.


Silicone can be a liquid or a solid. People sometimes say “silicone rubber” and they don’t mean they think it’s a blend, they’re saying it to convey that it is a rubber-like version of a silicone product. I’ve also seen some say “silicone elastomer” to convey the same meaning, but without the negative connotations of the word “rubber” (they don’t realize it’s redundant to us, and makes us wary). It can be super soft and squishy, or really firm. Silicone can hold onto strong odors1. It won’t melt when it touches other cured silicone products. It’s essentially non-porous and bacteria, mold, and other fungi won’t breed and make homes in the tiny pores. When you burn it, if it catches, you’ll see a light grey ash. It can be cheap or expensive.

But please, don’t ever call it ‘Silicon’ and run from places that say ‘Medical grade silica gel’.

  1. yes, you can get rid of the odors, yes I’ll write about that down the line
 Posted by at 3:00 pm
Aug 202015

I often wish there was a sex toy / sexuality version of snopes.com. There are so many myths, uncorroborated theories and flat-out wrong ideas. This will have to do! Comment with your own myths or ask if one you’ve heard is myth or fact. 

You can test a vibrator in-store by putting it on the tip of your nose.

photo of a brochure from CSPH saying: Fun Fact: Test vibrators out on the tip of your nose while in the store, it will give you a better indicator of how the vibrator will feel against your genitals (vs testing the toys out in your hand). If it makes you sneeze, it is probably too strong for you. This isn’t really myth or fact, it’s just subjective. The theory is that if it “makes you sneeze” it is probably too powerful for your clitoris. I actually saw this tidbit in a brochure for the Center for Sexual Pleasure and Health in my Woodhull Sexual Freedom Summit 15 swag bag and it saddened me1. I love this organization and have supported them, but this “fun fact” worries me that those who need something strong will feel shamed or will not get the vibrator they really need. My clitoris (and I know I’m not alone) is not very sensitive. I require strong, rumbly vibrations. If the vibrations are particularly rumbly, then it doesn’t have to be super-strong (hello, Tango, I love you even on level 1). Every vibrator that will work for me bothers my nose. Hell even vibrators that will never be enough for me can make me sneeze, particularly surface-buzzy ones. 

You won’t know if a vibration type or strength is good for you until you try it. You can start with cheap vibrators and one that I like recommending for external play is the Doc Johnson Black Magic Bullet. It’s not high quality and might not last you more than a couple months. But it’ll give you a really good idea of where you stand especially if the last vibrator you tried was too mild. Maybe the Black Magic isn’t enough, maybe it’s pretty good but not quite enough for some days, etc. Whatever the case may be, you now have a barometer. Put THAT to your nose (or drop your jaw and put it in the hollow of your cheek – see how far the vibrations spread) and or your hand and memorize how that feels. Did it make you sneeze? Ok, so what. It’s what you need, so it’s fine.

If there were such a thing as “too powerful” then the Magic Wand wouldn’t have gained a cult following as a genital vibrator for masturbation.

Toy Cleaner is all you need to keep that PVC dildo perfectly safe

Myth until the end of time. The whole thing is porous (but not absorbent) so you can only clean the surface. Since the material breaks down over time and things are living in the pores, the community in your dildo will come out to play. And you definitely don’t wanna hang with that crowd. This goes for rubber, TPR, jelly, “realistic materials” of unknown origin, etc. “Toy cleaner” for non-porous is just kinda pointless unless you’re traveling and plan to share with non-fluid-bonded partners because there are other easier and cheaper ways to clean/sanitize your sex toys. 

Covering a sketchy sex toy with a condom will solve all your worries

Unproven. This might (and boy do I stress might) help for a little while with TPE/TPR dildos if it’s a polyurethane condom. TPE/TPR seems to be the only porous material that doesn’t give a chemical burn (I could be wrong, FYI, and they could be lying) but it is porous and unstable (hence using polyurethane condom because the instability means its leaches oils and oils ruin other condoms). The condom might buy you some time with regards to keeping bacteria out of the pores, or to keep fungi in the pores from coming at you during use, BUT you need to cover 100% of the sex toy surface. I don’t mean the surface going in you or on you. I mean the whole. damn. thing. Handle too.

Silicone sex toys will “melt” or deform if you let them touch in storage.

I have covered this to death but I couldn’t leave it out of this round-up, simply because I hear it so often. Even when I make a post specifically showing that it’s not a thing.

Large girth sex toys will “ruin” a vagina or make your butt incontinent

For most people and in most circumstances, the body is really damn elastic. Vaginas can birth a 10 pound baby and not have the cavernous qualities of a small garbage bag afterwards.

Can the PC muscles lose their tone and affect things like tightness and bladder control? Yes, but they can be toned and exercised and brought back to full strength – without necessarily needing surgery. 

Wood sex toys will splinter, glass sex toys will shatter

I’ve already covered the wood thing in great detail. Glass sex toys, even if they’re not annealed or even made from tempered glass, are very unlikely to shatter in use into tiny pieces as is suggested here. It could crack, yes, if it’s a cheap glass item. But unless you’re shoving something like a lightbulb inside of you (btw….don’t do that) you’re using something that is solid, not flimsy and hollow. More details on glass sex toys and their quality/strength to come shortly, by the way – I plan to do testing and research that will educate you and yes concern you but I will  not use scare tactics based on dramatized situations.  Straight dope, y’all.

If you want something soft, you HAVE to buy jelly or “realistic” mystery materials

After Woodhull I can personally assure you this is wrong. I squeezed so many super-duper soft silicone items from Lunabelle’s treasure trove. I was shocked that someone could even use something so soft. These aren’t mainstream brands (yet) but it is out there. Damn Average, Frisky Beast, Bad Dragon, and so many more. Even the Vixen Vixskin and Tantus O2 is very soft and squishy – they have solid cores to make it easier to use, but it’s still soft. Yes, many silicone toys are very firm but not all. Don’t let that deter you. 

Vibrators will desensitize you and make it so that you cannot orgasm without them

I will not disagree that certain vibrators (for me, it’s the Magic Wand and similar) can give you a very temporary numb feeling. I am not a doctor (not that most doctors know a damn thing about sex toys and pleasure) but I feel pretty confident in saying that this is a myth. In fact, over my time with sex toys, I’ve been able to orgasm with less vibration strength than I used to need. I’ve had more instances of hands-only orgasms since I started using vibrators and those orgasms used to be about as rare as a brown spider monkey2 but are probably at African Penguin3 level now.

Sex toys are only for single people (who aren’t having partnered sex)

This is like saying that now that you’re in a relationship, you never masturbate anymore, in any way. Masturbation is healthy. It’s not something you necessarily do because you’re not attracted to your partner. Masturbation/orgasm can be very relaxing, can help you sleep, can help you focus, can ease anxiety, and so on. Sex toys are merely a tool. That’s it.

Sex toys can be used in partnered sex and to great results. Again, they’re a tool to enhance sex. It’s not like a sex toy says “You, the person I care about, are not attractive enough / good enough sexually for me”. Do you wear lingerie for your partner? Do you light candles? Yes? So how is a sex toy really any different? The notion that only your partner’s body should/can provide you with pleasure is very antiquated, and very damaging.

Does your partner like a hand job (penis)? Do you enjoy seeing them receive that kind of pleasure? So a masturbator sleeve is going to feel even nicer than your hand – this you can surely understand, yes? It’s softer. It might have nubs. So why wouldn’t you want to use this on your partner and watch them experience even MORE pleasure? Now think about this in relation to every other body part and every sex toy on the market. When my partner uses a sex toy on me, or watches me use it, it is just as (if not moreso) intimate than applying the body part to the body part. If you live giving your partner pleasure then why wouldn’t you want to give them even MORE pleasure? 

Sex toys made specifically for partnered sex are The Thing and need to be Hands-Free

Every couples” toy I’ve tried has not worked for me. The idea behind these specific things is that the vulva-owner wears them for PIV sex; they’re supposed to be unobtrusive, and require little effort once they are in place. But when you combine friction and slippery stuff, the chance something could really stay hands-free is fairly slim. Plus they usually rely on your body being built the exact way that the toy makers demo vulva/body is, and if not may not fit just right.  The We-Vibe can work for some and I hear good feedback. But I also hear just as many disappointed people who experienced all fails. In my opinion that’s a lot of money to spend for a maybe, when you could just re-work your foreplay and sex positions to include your toys. Would you rework those things if one of you became injured or disabled? There’s your answer.

Hands-free is very hard to achieve, so maybe let’s let that one go? Or consider the toys with suction cups, or the Liberator toy mount pieces.  And there’s no need to look for a specific “sex toy for couples”. If you’re using it together, during partnered sex….guess what? It’s now a “sex toy for couples”. You’re welcome.

I got a man! (What’s your man got to do with me?)

FYI someone needs to remake a video for this song and have a dildo be the dude in the song.

To the cis men saying their “girl” doesn’t need a “rubber penis” because: cis dude exists: Your penis is not a god. Let me ask you something, cis dude: You have consensual access to a vagina/butt/whatever now that you have a partner. Are you really trying to tell me you’re never gonna jerk off? Ever? That is some bullshit. Ever stick your dick into something other than another human, and had it feel good? Yes. Why should your partner be punished because you have a god complex? Try using that dildo you’re so afraid of on your partner, with your partner. It’s sexy to watch. You can get a view you normally wouldn’t during sex. And you’re still participating in giving them pleasure.

For those who think that because they “have a man” they don’t need a silicone dick, well, that’s your choice I guess. You’re the receiver, so you choose what you want. You can angle a dildo in a way that the attached penis probably can’t move. You can twirl and twist the dildo, and an attached penis cannot (should not) do that (unless the body attached to the penis is rigged to the ceiling like a Cirque du Soleil gymnast and there’s a whole lot of complicated…stuff…going on). That’s neither bad nor good, it’s just a thing and if it feels good then do it. Maybe you have tried dildos and do not like them. Maybe you tried dildos that weren’t right for you (been there, done that, so keep going and maybe try a Pure Wand) but hey maybe you just don’t like dildos. THAT’S COOL. I’m not saying you have to like a dildo. If you have zero trouble getting off clitorally with your hand or your partners fingers/tongue? Bravo. You’re lucky. Carry on and don’t experiment with pleasure if you don’t want to. BUT YOU CAN, ok? And if you cannot orgasm at all or with any frequency/reliability from your partner’s fingers/tongue/penis? You are not broken. There is no shame in using a sex toy to help. 

Cis men who enjoy anal/prostate play must be gay/queer

It’s not about the things you like having done to you during sex, it’s who is doing them.  The prostate is often called the “male” g-spot (starting to hate that term but, whatever, if it helps the cis men I talk to, then fine) and it feels fucking awesome for most people to have it stimulated. The ass also has a ton of nerve endings – these are there regardless of gender. We all have the same nerve endings. Every butt, regardless of gender or sexuality, has the ability to really fuckin love the sensation of beads, penis, dildo, plug, or vibrations in and around this sensitive zone. Don’t like it? Fine. But it has nothing to do with your gender or sexuality. 

Calling it: Myth now and forevermore.  Wanna read more? Start here

Anything can be a sex toy if you’re brave enough

That should be changed to actually read “dumb enough”. Just the other day I found someone selling anal beads on Etsy that consisted of sead beads and larger round beads strung onto jewelry-making beading wire with other wire involved. The beads? No. They are glass and those can break off. Plus cleaning between them??? OH NO. No. And then, the wire?? It could puncture you internally. It could be fatal. The seller doesn’t seem to agree with me and others, it seems. Primary email interaction isn’t getting my point conveyed and they seem to feel their stuff is safe. Kinda like the person who made those clay and wax dildos, but he got super angry with me. 

See also: carrots/vegetables/food, markers, salami, syrup bottles and cold cream jars – not a dildo

Sex toys are amazing tools and you should try one or 24 at some point in your life

Fact. Or I wouldn’t be here right now on this blog, doing all the things I love. Granted, not all sex toys are amazing but speaking in generalities? Magical stuff, people.

Thanks to Artemisia, Girly Juice and Reenie for reminding me on a few of these. 

  1. Actually, it’s what prompted this whole entire post. And I also want to reiterate that I love the Center and Megan and all who help run it, but I don’t like that tip/fact and wanted to speak about it, it just happened to lead to other myths
  2. Critically endangered
  3. Endangered
 Posted by at 7:22 pm
Mar 222015

Showing a jar of toxic sex toys on the left with a lot of clear liquid in the jar and a jar of silicone sex toys on the right with no liquid and no damageThe first official lab test of sex toys happened in 2006, with results confirming that toxic sex toys were a big problem. But the industry has come so far since then. While there are still many stores that stock a lot of gross, crappy sex toys, the overall percentage of porous materials in sex toys is on the decline. Beyond that, it seems like phthalates are on the decline, as well, in porous toys. But does this make them any more safe? Can the major companies be trusted? And really, what proof do we have that the cheap sex toys are safe?

In The Beginning…

Back in 2006, Badvibes.org, headed up by toxic-toy pioneer Jennifer Pritchett of The Smitten Kitten, had a whole bunch of sex toys tested at a lab. They did a material analysis, looking to find out if something called silicone was really silicone, and to see what level of phthalates were found. The results were staggering – high measures of phthalates. In the years since, savvy consumers simply tried to avoid the porous materials by sticking with silicone but until recently we had many shady companies using the word “silicone” when the product was actually made of a thermoplastic elastomer, rubber or PVC. So another pioneer, Metis Black, came up with the flame test. It took a long while to really understand the nuances of the flame test and how any given material would react. We thought that pure silicone could never burn up and disintegrate but found out that when the sample is thin and is a softer, stretchier silicone burning and material destruction can and will happen. I found that out when I decided to get the Jimmyjane Hello Touch tested at the same lab that Badvibes.org used.

Recently Lab-Tested Sex Toys

Then, Dildology tested a Doc Johnson dildo labeled as “phthalates-free PVC with added Sil-a-gel” to see what was up. True to PVC nature, the dildo had an awful odor. Lab results came back which indicated that phthalates were present. This test was run July 2013. In September of 2014, Badvibes.org again sent out a large batch of sex toys to the same lab for testing; including the infamous James Deen PVC dildo. The lab results on the James Deen dildo showed a compound that ends in -phthalate when Dildology had it tested, but the Badvibes test came back with a different percentage of compounds and a plasticizer called “sebacic acid dibutyl ether“. In addition, every single other item that Badvibes had tested September 2014 came back showing zero phthalates. Despite a chemical found that has phthalate in the name1 , what was found is a non-phthalate plastic softener. The only bit of “bad” found in the tests from September 2014 was a Pipedream product called “Silicone Lil’ Pearl Pleasure Sleeve” that wasn’t silicone at all, of course, but a compound that looks like it’s similar to what the Screaming O rings are made of and seems to be considered non-toxic.

Since we know that the industry is not regulated and that manufacturers can lie on their product packaging (or, in the case of Screaming O, have a years-long miscommunication from the material supplier result in years and millions of packages incorrectly labeling the product as a type of silicone, an error that was not of malicious intent), we’ve been very reluctant to trust. Just because the 2014 Badvibes test showed no phthalates doesn’t mean they’ve been eradicated. One item they didn’t test that I would love to get tested is anything from the Pipedream Basix collection, but alas I have no spare money to do more testing. Further, there’s something else I want to point out – this supposed Sil-a-gel additive that Doc Johnson uses in their porous PVC items which is supposed to basically be an antimicrobial? I see no evidence of anything other than PVC and plasticizer in both lab tests of the James Deen dildo. Maybe it’s something that wouldn’t show up in the FTIR test the lab ran? I don’t know. Many people who own a Doc Johnson product advertised as containing Sil-a-gel experienced burning, itching and redness of the genitals and report a very strong shower-curtain-perfumey smell.

Not Enough Studies

Here’s the thing – there are chemicals and materials in play that we don’t know much about. We don’t really know how they’ll affect us when used as a sex toy. Some people report that for the minimal time a sex toy is inside your body, there’s no way that phthalates, if present, are going to cause damage to your endocrine system. Hell some people believe that phthalates aren’t harmful to us at all! I don’t know of any studies done on people who used phthalates-ridden sex toys for years. If someone did get sick, get cancer, etc…..what are the chances that that illness could even be traced back to their sex toy use? Some people might say that because we do not know, we should not worry. I say that because we do not know we should err on the side of caution – stick to pure, safe, chemically-stable non-porous materials like silicone, glass, medical-grade metals, properly coated wood and properly glazed ceramic as well as hard ABS plastics.

Is PVC Toxic?

It’s commonly said in our industry that PVC without phthalates isn’t toxic. This isn’t what everyone believes2. A recent study of Dollar Store items showed a lot of toxic chemicals in their stuff, and I felt that the study hit home for our industry – just because a person cannot afford the current cost of most non-porous sex toys, doesn’t mean they should be saddled with the unhealthy chemicals. So when the people who buy, for example, a Doc Johnson PVC dildo with added Sil-a-gel experience itching and burning and redness….are they reacting to the toxins in PVC that are NOT phthalates? Or are they reacting to whatever this Sil-a-gel stuff is, if it exists?

It’s Still Porous

I also say that even if the material in question is non-toxic (like most TPR/TPE type elastomers) it is still porous, and that is still a major concern. Porous sex toys can never be sanitized much less sterilized; they should never be shared between non-fluid-bonded partners; and you should never use the same porous toy both vaginally and anally. The porous sex toys can hang on to bacteria, mildew and other fungi, cleaning chemicals that you thought you rinsed off, and so on. Since the materials are not chemically stable, as they break down they will feed these microorganisms back to your body. I have read many comments on places like Amazon where people bought what is claimed to be a TPR, non-toxic sex toy and experienced the burning and itching that is associated with phthalates. Could they be mislabeling the material? Sure. Could the porous material be hanging on to the chemicals used in the manufacturing process like mold release agents? Sure. It could be anything.  In this age of all the “phthalate-free” claims, I get plenty of feedback from people who’ve experienced long term chemical burn problems.

Will a Condom Protect You?

The party line has been “cover it with a condom” but how did the collective we arrive at that? Just because condoms can prevent pregnancy and STIs doesn’t mean they can be put on a chemically-laden bacteria-infected porous dildo and keep you safe. But let’s think about this logically for a minute – the jar of melted sex toys that I have, and the recent Smitten Kitten jar both displayed oils seeping out of the materials. From what I know of the materials in my own jar, only one item was PVC with probable phthalate content. The rest were a TPR material, as best as I can guess. And there’s a lot of oil in that jar! And guess what doesn’t play nice with oil? Latex condoms. There have been no tests run to see if the latex will break down enough for the irritating chemicals, bacteria or fungus to get through. If I could do this test myself, I would. I don’t know who to contact to run such a test. There is one possibility and that is using nitrile condoms (like the FC2 Female Condom) or polyurethane condoms (like Japanese import Okamoto or Trojan Supra) but have you seen the prices on these? Also, they’re not going to cover the entire toy (leaving nothing exposed is the best protection) PLUS they’re probably not big enough for the extra-large specialty toys that are cost-prohibitive when made in silicone.  If you’re going this route, or any route with a porous material, I recommend replacing it after 4-6 months (4 months for anal use, to be safe). This estimate is not scientific, but based on my own prior uses with toys and watching how long it took for them to change color, get oily, etc.

Will the Industry Change?

I understand budgets. I understand that by the time you save up for a $30 sex toy, something else will have happened to your $30 that is more important than a sex toy and you’re back to the original $15 you could spare which means buying a PVC or Jelly toy. I understand it; I wish I had a better fix for you. If a polyurethane condom is something you have access to and can purchase in small doses per use, and if it’ll cover your toy completely, then go that route. I cannot stress enough that this isn’t ideal. I don’t want to tell you that you’re not worthy of masturbation and enhancing partnered sex. This just means we need to see a change in the industry. The more silicone purchases that are made, the more companies will understand the need and make changes.

I think that the change has already started, just by looking at percentages of stock. Let’s look at Lovehoney UK, as an example. For dildos, they have 299. 100 of them are made from a safe, non-porous material – silicone, glass or metal. That’s 1/3. It’s okay, but I’d like to see it at 2/3 or more. For vibrators, they stock 391. Looks like roughly 215 of them are a safe, non-porous material – silicone or hard plastic. That’s a little over half which is good but again I’d like to see that number a lot higher. Here’s one more example – sextoy.com, a US-based site that I do not recommend to my readers, currently lists close to 2000 dildos on their site. A little over 1200 of them are made from a porous, potentially toxic material – this leaves only 800 non-porous options. I think that the companies that make many hundreds of sex toys could make their silicone sex toys even cheaper if they manufactured more. The bigger the bulk order is for material, the more their cost goes down, right? That’s my thought, anyways. There needs to be a large selection of truly safe AND very affordable sex toys.  It is beginning to happen – we’re seeing under-$30 pure silicone dildos (in small doses) from companies who previously only produced toxic, porous junk.

This post references research I’ve done and is my personal opinion. In the end, you make up your own mind but I’m going to give you the tools to be as well-informed as possible. I would ideally like to see my readers ditch the porous materials (except for penetrable toys, that’s largely unavoidable) but I also know that there are gaps in the industry. I do feel that a porous, “non-toxic” material has the potential to be harmful, depending on what is living in the pores. I know that lower-end mass production companies might have heavy metals in their pigments, something that is ignored but still a toxicity problem. I know that we have no idea about the effect of these phthalate-replacements on our bodies when used in a sex toy. I know that VOC’s are a problem, and it is present in the cheap materials that have a strong odor. We still have a long way to go. To see a change we need to continue to educate and be vocal and encourage readers and customers to “vote with their money” by buying the silicone options when ever possible. Shop at reputable retailers like the ones listed here, and choose wisely. If you’re ever uncertain, ask me!

  1. Dioctyl terephthalate
  2. Said in the article “One PVC shower curtain can release as many as 108 volatile organic chemicals into the air.”
 Posted by at 12:34 pm
Jan 162015

Since 2005, The Screaming O has been telling us that their products like Ringo, The Big O, The Screaming O Plus (the clear material products) were “SEBS Silicone”. After I delved into my material research, discussions with industry professionals, and flame testing, I felt pretty damn certain that there was never any silicone in these products. When an AVN article came out on January 14th talking about how The Screaming O decided to run lab tests AND quoted Anne Hodder of Hodder Media Inc, their Public Relations Spokesperson, as saying “I think we can finally put to rest the critics with our data that shows our products are what we say they are,” I got kinda angry at first 1 because well….no. The tests revealed that the SEBS products are just SEBS….not the SEBS Silicone they’ve been called all along. And because there was no talk in the article about The Screaming O recognizing the material disparity publicly and stating that changes will be made to reflect that, something felt off. It felt like “they still don’t get it”. But as soon as I was told that actually, yeah, they DO get it, I wanted to see if I could get more information. Yes, I think a few have doubted that even their silicone was truly silicone, and those tests DO prove that they are. But the biggest problem is that continuing to have these listed as silicone has caused confusion to people who are trying to seek out only non-porous materials, and it damages trust in the industry as a whole. 

I think this might be the first time that a sex toy company has both tested AND publicly admitted that their material hasn’t been what they advertised it to be. I was able to snag an interview with Anne Hodder and get some answers. I do now feel better about TSO overall as a company. I still don’t love the porous cock rings 2 but now that I know they weren’t purposely lying and now that I know the material is absolutely non-toxic, I think the rings are fine for a first-timer to try out the world of cock rings. I’d rather you choose from their pure silicone line, but hey, budgets n’ all that.

I’m printing Anne’s answers as she gave them to me. So this will be long, but you can skip around if you wish. 

1. When a company goes on for so many years saying that it’s a blend (and recently I was told by an expert that blends aren’t possible) we lose complete trust in them. What can be said to help us regain our trust in your brand about the “SEBS Silicone” issue? Is TSO also admitting that these products are porous (and that for true body-safe products that will last, go for the premium silicone versions)? Is TSO officially saying that yes, the SEBS products were all mislabeled in the past?

Labeling our products as SEBS Silicone was not an intentional manipulation or plan to deceive the public; it was an error that dates possibly back to the company’s 2005 inception and was carried throughout our marketing until we made the official decision to have our materials tested. And with the lab results in hand, we are now in the process of revising our marketing, packaging, websites and more to reflect the correct information: our stretchy products are made of pure non-toxic, body-safe SEBS.

SEBS, as is any material that is not platinum silicone, stainless steel, or coated wood or stone, is slightly porous – but “porous” does not mean “unsafe” or “toxic” when it comes to external-use toys. As with any sex toy, keeping Screaming O products in tip top shape simply requires cleaning after every use and safe storage: keep in a cool, dry place away from dust/dirt and any other outside contaminants.

We choose to manufacture much of our product line out of pure SEBS in order to provide quality alternatives for men, women and couples who cannot afford (or do not want) to drop $60+ on a rechargeable cock ring or $90+ clitoral vibe. And that demographic deserves body-safe materials and quality construction, which is why we are committed to confirming the composition of our materials with independent lab testing.

Also, it’s important to note that our SEBS is NOT to be confused with jelly, the material commonly found in floppy dildos that often smell like melted shower curtains – and not something you’d want anywhere near your body.

2. What can you tell us about the Twitter conversations back in November, most of which are referenced here? That exchange really soured a lot of bloggers on the company in general.

That exchange was unfortunate. To put it simply, we had an outside contractor handling basic social media duties (daily posting, mostly) who responded to the online argument without conferring with the marketing team first. Her responses were argumentative, uninformed and unprofessional and did not accurately represent the thoughts and feelings of The Screaming O.

We immediately went into damage control as soon as we were made aware of the situation. We reached out to all involved and offered “offline” discussion to try to set the record straight, and The Screaming O is no longer using this contractor’s services.

Customer service is our No. 1 priority – whether it’s with our retailers or our fans – and we work hard to establish and maintain candid communication with anyone who reaches out to us, regardless of whether it’s with a compliment or criticism.

3. The article that came out on Jan 14th talked about the test results without acknowledging that TSO recognizes the disparity between the results (SEBS vs SEBS silicone) and plans to take action on that. What can you tell us about this action?

We are now in the process of revising all copy on our websites, packaging and marketing materials to correctly represent our SEBS products, now that we have hard lab data to clear up the confusion. We also encourage retailers and customers to adjust their own marketing copy to ensure that their descriptions accurately represent our products to the shopping public, something that we’re communicating through internal newsletter and email communication.

What This Means

Something that I learned a few years ago from Metis Black of Tantus is that basically you have the material supplier and (for most companies) the manufacturing plant (usually in China) acquires the material. The creating company can SAY they want XYZ and the supplier can say “yeah sure…it’s XYZ *winkwink* and the creating company who is putting their name on the product is truly none the wiser (unless they went the extra mile and randomly had toys sent off to a third-party lab to be tested). So the company (in this case, The Screaming O) geniunely believes that their product is this “silicone elastomer blend” and sticks to that. I do believe that we’ve seen other, larger companies in the past who may have known that their “TPR Silicone” product had no silicone, but they labeled it that way for sales because they could. Companies like that simply quietly changed the wording on their site and product packaging, but never did so out of concern for their customers. 

Some might be skeptical about a company really not knowing that their material isn’t what they’re told it to be; but it rings true to the infamous (in industry circles) story of Metis challenging a vendor friend at a trade show some years back who insisted his product was silicone, and she used the flame test to show that it wasn’t. 

I’m hoping that TSO is able to reach most retailers and have them change the wording on their sites, and begin to lift this confusion of “blends” being a thing and myths that “silicone melts when it touches other silicone“. 

I’ve been told that the lab test results and information will be available online and I’ll update with a link here when they are. 

What are your thoughts? Does this change how you view The Screaming O and their products? 

  1. That may be a bit of an understatement
  2. While these are external-only items, the porous material can still come into contact with mucus membranes of the vulva and the chance for STI transmission can still occur; this is my opinion and perhaps not the opinion of TSO
 Posted by at 4:45 pm
Jan 152015

Update: This post has been edited with information I’ve been given that completely changes the narrative; information that hadn’t been made as public as their lab tests. It changes the story from one of me being angry, to me feeling like the industry is actually, slowly, getting better and getting somewhere. Update at the bottom. 


For a long while now I’ve been a big critic of The Screaming O brand for one big reason:

They lied about their materials.

This misrepresentation of material content has continued to perpetuate firstly the myth that there is such a thing as a TPR/Elastomer/Silicone “blend” and secondly it perpetuates the myth that silicone will melt and degrade or that silicone can look crystal clear.

I’ve put their basic rings to a flame test before and they created such immediate, hot flames that I had to pour water over them to die down – a simple wave in the air wasn’t enough. Consistently, Screaming O has claimed that the material of their cheapie rings is “SEBS silicone“. The SEBS part confuses retailers, so they’ll just omit that and call it silicone. I’d strongly suspected prior to a flame test that these cheap rings are not silicone because they are so soft, so stretchy and crystal clear. This has not been a hallmark of pure silicone. Flame test revealed no grey and material destruction that was like it liquified in the heat.


A few months ago there was a dust-up on Twitter between Screaming O and some bloggers and part of this stemmed from a few of us talking about sex toys that are labeled silicone when they clearly are not. Of course, Screaming O came up and made this bold bullshit call:

Tweet that says:  "@sex_ational @dangerouslilly @RaavynnDigitaL Our products that are silicone are labeled and the ones that are not, are not. #wedontfakeit"

Product packaging, and the website, has always listed these as “SEBS Silicone”, and the language I’ve taken issue with is “silicone”



TO BE CLEAR: My problem with Screaming O is that they’ve been misrepresenting their material for ages. I do recognize that some of their products are silicone, like  their Primo line. They look completely different. They look like they could actually be silicone, unlike their cheap jelly products.  So you can imagine how rankled I got with their tweet claiming they don’t lie. The products have been sent out for  independent lab tests:

“I think we can finally put to rest the critics with our data that shows our products are what we say they are,” Hodder said.

Polymer Solutions Incorporated, a material analysis laboratory in Virginia, conducted tests on the Screaming O Original Ring, made from clear SEBS (styrene-ethylene/butylene-styrene), and the PrimO Apex, which is purple silicone. Since there are no standardized tests in place for pleasure products, the lab conducted tests that fall under the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act, which covers baby products and other children’s items.

The tests proved that the PrimO Apex is made from silicone, that the Screaming O Original Ring is made from SEBS.

Let me clarify: “made from clear SEBS (styrene-ethylene/butylene-styrene)” FULL STOP. That’s  it. That’s all. No silicone.


UPDATE: I have been informed that Screaming O DOES plan to update their information to reflect the lack of silicone in the SEBS products. So, my apologies for my anger this morning, Screaming O. The information that they “get it” and are making changes wasn’t included in that press release, and I think that’s the most important information of all. Hopefully all retailer sites will be told to update their product listings, and stop calling them silicone and confusing people. I want to thank the warriors behind the scenes who prompted this re-evaluation on their wording, geting the test done, and making the changes. I’m under the impression that the site will be updated soon, and slowly product packaging will change.

I was so upset at what appeared to be a compete “they don’t get it” moment because I was going by the press release information, that I didn’t take the time to ask before I got angry and ranted. I need to do that more, and now I feel like an asshole!



 Posted by at 10:35 am