Apr 072017
 

For years I’ve had readers come to me with questions about their sex toys and recurring yeast infections. More than one told me that they went to their doctor for a reaction (after using a porous sex toy) and the doctor would diagnose a yeast infection, usually. But I would still wonder if it was really an infection or rather a chemical burn from toxic materials. While it could be either, I understand a lot more now about the links between porous sex toys, cheap lube, and vaginal health thanks in large part to the education of Sarah Mueller who has done years of research for Smitten Kitten / BadVibes.org.

Misinterpreting Medical Studies?

The lightbulb went off as I was trying to do research on why we’d seen more than one article from lube brands claiming silicone lubes, synthetic oils, and natural oils are bad for vaginas (hint: only one of those actually is a universal vaginal no-no). I found a medical study that talked about finding an increased rate of yeast infections and bacterial vaginosis with folks who were using an “oil lube” but it seemed that the only thing mentioned was baby oil – a synthetic oil. And yes, those folks did have vaginal health problems moreso than folks using other lubes. But that study doesn’t give us the bridge to sweeping false generalizations that anything with any oil in it is bad for all vaginas1.

It did, however, inspire what I think is a really good theory about porous sex toys.  It should be noted: I’m focusing here on porosity and the material composition, not the possibility of toxicity from mystery additives or lingering phthalates usage. Those can cause burning pain, but it’s off-topic for this post.

But first, I have to express a lot of disappointment in the doctors interviewed for articles about lube. One article I found was quoting Mary Jane Minkin, M.D., clinical associate professor of ob-gyn at Yale School of Medicine (big title, you’re inclined to believe her, right?):

Dr. Minkin strongly advises that you keep all oil-based lubes — including vaseline — out of the bedroom. They are difficult to wash out of the vagina, and they’re usually made of glycerin, which is essentially like glucose/sugar. That means it turns your vag into a breeding ground for bad bacteria, putting you at risk for a yeast infection. To make matters worse, oil and latex don’t get along, meaning it could wreck the efficiency of your condom, landing you with an unwanted pregnancy or an STI.

So that’s a really big, sweeping generalization which can scare folks out of actually decent oil-based lubes like Sliquid Oil or natural, plant-based oils, or The Butters. None of those are “made of glycerin”, and glycerin isn’t “essentially a sugar”, it’s a sugar alcohol. So far in the studies Sarah has researched, it hasn’t been specifically connected to yeast infections – however, it’s usually found alongside other crap ingredients and raises osmolality, leaving you more prone to infections.

Synthetic Oils In Sex Toys

Now, we know that the cheaper materials like thermoplastics (TPE, TPR), PVC, rubber, and the trademarked materials that are probably just a formulation of TPR, can re-infect you if you’ve used it whilst in the middle of an infection, as they cannot be sanitized. We know that bacteria can live and stick around in these materials; we know that fungus can grow and bring on molds in the material’s pores. These things have been talked about at length, but this theory of mine isn’t one I’ve heard yet:

If synthetic oils in the vagina can lead to increased infections because they trap and breed bacteria, and many porous sex toys are softened with synthetic oil2, and these sex toys are not chemically stable and can leach out that oil, the end result is quite possibly a synthetic oil in your vagina. People talk a lot about the porous materials breaking down, “sweating”, and feeling greasy. Before they know enough to know what this means, though, many folks still use sex toys like this. I wouldn’t want the liquid in my jar of horrors in my vagina, that’s for sure.

To make matters more sticky, chances are pretty good that if you’re using porous materials, you’re also using lubes that are hyper-osmotic, which can leave your cells dry and sloughing off which leaves you at greater risk for…you guessed it! Infections! 

A Brief Interlude on Osmolality

There is more detail on the types of osmolality at The Big Lube Guide, but the most common situation is when the osmolality is high, i.e. hyper-osmotic. It’s the vampire situation – the lube comes in all charming at first and things seem okay. The lube feels really slippery, which is great! But it’s slippery because it’s drinking the moisture from your cells. When they have no more to give, they are dead and dry. The outer layer of cells will slough off and leave your mucus lining very vulnerable, like standing in a snowstorm without winter gear. STI transmission can increase and at-risk people are at greater risk for infections – this is the same group of people who need to use more lube than the average person.

Not many lubes on the chart over at The Guide are in the ideal range, which is iso-osmotic. And, frankly, not many lubes are listed, period. So how can we take an educated guess on the osmolality? Look at the ingredients.  The top two ingredients to avoid are glycerin(e) and propylene glycol. Both of these greatly increase the osmolality of the lube and both can cause sensitivities (and for some, yeast infections).

Yes, even if the sex toy and its oils aren’t causing the yeast infection, even if the pH isn’t causing the yeast infection, you are still at risk because of these very common ingredients. Are you side-eyeing that lube bottle, yet?

pH and You

The vagina has a pH. Water-based lubes have a pH. When the two don’t match up, you can have three scenarios:

  1. Burning – this means the pH of the lube you’re using is too low
  2. Itching – this means the pH of the lube you’re using is too high
  3. Itching AND Infection – the high pH can cause simple irritation or bring on infection especially if it’s also a hyper-osmotic lube and you’ve got some unwanted guests lounging in there

So if you’re frequently having these issues, it’s time to switch your lube. You may even need to consider that you need a few different lubes, and get to know your cycle and how it affects your pH. Vaginal pH can range from 3.5 – 7 which is a large range – it makes sense that you could do best with a lower and a higher pH lube to best match your body. The easiest way to get this nailed down is by testing your pH with test strips like these. And, while you’re at it, test your water-based lube. If you’ve had the bottle for a while, test it again, as pH can change over time.

The other way to get around this factor is to use pH-neutral lubes like silicone or coconut oil, but this isn’t an option for everyone. Some dislike the feel of silicone and plant-based oils; some rely on latex condoms3. You could also consider a hybrid lube which, due to the normally-low silicone content, wouldn’t harm a silicone sex toy. The addition of silicone makes it potentially pH-neutral, we think. Studies done on hybrid lubes and osmolality or pH were vague or few so we don’t have as much knowledge, but it would be best to avoid the problem-child ingredients regardless.  So far there are only two hybrid lubes I don’t hate: Sliquid Silk (regular or organic) and Good Vibe’s Please Cream.

A really well-rounded starter lube arsenal might look like this:

  • Good Clean Love Almost Naked, a thick lube that comes in at a pH of 4 (buy from Shevibe, Smitten Kitten, or Amazon but check the expiration date)
  • Sliquid Satin, pH of 6 (buy here or here)
  • Sliquid Silk, the hybrid for when you don’t wanna bother with osmolality/pH but don’t want an oil-based lube
  • A pack of pH test strips

~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~ 

Finally, if you’re looking for more body-friendly lube recommendations, check out the Big Lube Guide. If you need affordable replacements for your porous sex toys check out my 35-under-$35 guide.

Please note: this is a lay-person theory based on research and logic and opinion. I am not a medical professional and I am not saying that this will happen for every person who uses porous sex toys and/or bad lubes. However, if you frequently get urinary tract infections, yeast infections, or bacterial vaginosis and use porous sex toys and/or bad lube consider making the switch to only non-porous sex toys and vag-friendly lubes to see if that clears up your problems. This is not to replace medical treatment or advice from your doctor.

  1. After seeing the similarities between the article from Coconu and Sutil, and then a few Google searches for funsies, I found the original article that Sutil copied / heavily borrowed from – a naturalist “doctor” who misread that study about oil-based lubes and extended it to try and claim that silicone oil is toxic. I’m as baffled as you are as to why a naturalist would declare coconut oil bad for all vaginas, given its antimicrobial properties and long-document usage for clearing up certain vaginal infections, but I digress and leave you with a sharp side-eye
  2. tests show mineral oil in many of these sex toys
  3. and, as we know, latex and oil are not compatible – I don’t know how long you’d have to wait in between using a plant-based oil lube and a latex condom to ensure the oil doesn’t render the condom useless against sperm and STIs
 Posted by at 3:42 pm
Mar 132017
 

When we talk about the many benefits of body-safe silicone for sex toys, we have to talk about how folks can tell the difference between silicone and well, not silicone. There are clues if it’s a translucent material or we can do the flame test, but what if it passes all of that and you still worry? Readers come to me all the time with concerns about a chemical odor despite the material being silicone so hopefully this will lay some fears to rest.

PVC is notorious for having a bad odor right out of the package, due to the plastic softening agents used – phthalates, or not, it seems. Therefore many folks use this odor, or lack of it, to help them determine if something is, or is not, silicone. They believe that a silicone sex toy shouldn’t have any chemical odors and many folks become immediately suspicious of perfectly good silicone sex toys when they open their packaging only to be hit with a chemical scent.

It should also be noted that one way to tell the difference between a really-bad porous material like PVC and a semi-bad porous material like TPR is also odor – generally speaking, TPR/TPE doesn’t have a bad odor. But it could, for many of the reasons listed below. In my personal past experience, the stench of toxic chemicals or cover-up perfumes won’t “air out” in a day or so.  The last time I received a toxic, stinky PVC realistic dildo accidentally for review the smell never abated, never went away. I lasted a week and a half before I took it to the dumpster.

Silicone Does Retain Odors

Because silicone isn’t completely non-porous, it can hang on to odors. We’ve learned this about anal toys (and those odors linger because they’re oil-soluble), but chemical odors that are water-soluble should dissipate a lot easier with a quick wash and some airing out.  The mild soap and water wash (or baby wipes swab, followed up by a “rinse” with a damp cloth for toys not water-resistant) will remove any lingering chemicals – something you should do no matter what with a brand new sex toy – but the most important step is simply letting it air out, free from packaging.

Trapped!

Any of the odor-causing methods below will make the silicone sex toy stink if it still stinks when they package it up. Then, the odors are trapped in the airtight packaging and not releasing until you open it. Items packaged only in cardboard, that are never then shrink-wrapped in plastic, will probably have no-to-low odor because of the cardboard. But if the item is put in a plastic bag and then packaged, or the entire packaging is shrink-wrapped, a chemical odor upon unboxing isn’t something to be immediately concerned about.

The odors can also be trapped, so to speak, from inside the toy, too. Yes, that’s right, the smell is coming from inside the house. Er, toy. How? Why? Well, lubrication of interior parts is one reason, and you can read about that in the next section. Another, manufacturer-specific, reason is the squishy under-layer in Tenga Iroha vibrators. The initial line had a very strong chemical odor that took a long time to dissipate – it reminded me of latex paint. The material under the thin silicone skin was a polyurethane-based squishy foam emitting VOCs. More recent Iroha squishy lines seem to have fixed this. And let’s not forget Lelo’s cringe-worthy scented-on-purpose vibrators – the scent is under the silicone skin, and comes out through the silicone’s pores.

Common Reasons for Silicone Sex Toys Having a Chemical Smell

There are so many factors that can cause a lingering chemical odor. This is actually a lot more common than you may realize. There’s a difference in the curing style and manufacturing process of silicone sex toys between say, the hand-poured RTV platinum-cured silicone that Tantus uses for their dildos and the silicone that goes over vibrators – like HTV (high-temperature vulcanization vs room-temperature).  I’ve read that there can be more curing odors associated with peroxide-cure than platinum-cure, but I don’t know which companies may be using peroxide-cure HTV silicone.

  1. Mold release agent – Basically, PAM for silicone. It’s a lubricant that helps get the sex toy out of the mold. This should get washed off, but cheaper companies may not do a good job of that
  2. Cleaning chemicals – Or, they did get rid of the mold release agent, but didn’t let the product air dry to release the VOCs from the cleaning chemicals
  3. The plastic packaging – if the item is in a plastic molded tray or clamshell, that plastic could be releasing VOCs as well
  4. Glue or dye in the packaging – sometimes instead of a plastic tray, your sex toy is in a foam tray. Maybe it’s dyed a color to match the packaging. Maybe there are multiple layers glued together. Again we have VOCs!
  5. Chemicals released during cure – When talking to numerous vibrator manufacturers they confirmed that during silicone cure a chemical reaction occurs and a strong odor comes with it. It’ll go away with 24-48 hours to air out, and good companies let their products air out before packaging. A cheap company will want to crank production up as much as possible and won’t give their products time to air out.
  6. Lubricants – Not the kind you’ll be using, but the kind used during production. I can’t accurately speculate what any given company would use to lubricate moving parts, but it could be anything from an alcohol-based spray to white lithium grease. If there’s no hard plastic barrier between the greased vibrator guts and the silicone skin of a vibrator, you might be smelling that odor for quite some time. One sex toy that comes to mind is this cheap bendable silicone vibrator – I had one complaint of it smelling so bad that I had to investigate and when I cut it open I noticed a little bit of a machine-shop odor and could tell it was from the lubricant used inside. Since it’s bendable, there was nothing in between the guts and the silicone.

What are VOCs?

Some of you may be wondering – VOC stands for Volatile Organic Compound. When you smell a chemical odor? That’s a VOC. Paint, new shower curtains, sex toys, cleaning products – we can’t escape them. They’re trying to regulate them, but it’s going to be a tough battle. If your new sex toy has a chemical odor, try to let it air out in a non-living-space room *if possible* since many VOCs can cause headaches, or more.

~   ~   ~   ~   ~   ~   ~   ~   ~

The bottom line? Fear not! A chemical odor doesn’t indicate anything bad on its own. Much appreciation to Vibratex, L’amourose, Doxy and Funkit for answering my questions in my research for this article.

 Posted by at 12:51 pm
Nov 292016
 

img_20161129_110321Recently I posted an article calling out Tracy’s Dog for being a shady, shady brand. This isn’t the first time I’ve purposely purchased a sex toy from Amazon suspecting bad results (see also: Glass safety post, Silica Gel post) but it’s the first time I took a leap of faith and committed to filing a report with Amazon. I was happy enough with the results of my chat, and saw a glimmer of hope for cleaning up Amazon. If more folks would file reports, and go beyond just leaving a 1-star customer review, we might be able to slowly whittle away at all of the counterfeit products and the incorrect material claims1. The most effective options are ones for those who have purchased the offending item from Amazon, but even non-customers can do a few things. Here are all the various ways we can start to clean up Amazon:

File an A-to-Z Protection Claim

There’s talk of this “A-to-Z” guarantee protection, and so I looked into it. I quickly hit a snag when I followed these directions:

To file an A-to-z Guarantee Claim on an eligible order:

  • Go to Your Orders.
  • Locate your order in the list and click Get help with order.
  • Select a reason code to describe your issue.
  • Select Request refund through A-to-z Guarantee.
  • Enter the required information and select Submit

Well, I didn’t see the “Get help with order” button on the order I needed to report. I saw it on a couple of other, more recent orders. My order definitely fit in the 90-days timeframe. You might see it if you try to contact the seller, though (but I never have on any order, so I’m not sure why a few showed the link and most don’t) – and you should, to see if you can get your money back. I found no way to contact the seller on my order – perhaps because it was outside of the Amazon 30-day returns? I don’t know. But the A-to-Z thing didn’t pan out. So…Now what?

Live Chat

I went to “Contact Us“. You start by choosing the order you want to report. Then in section 2 you select an issue. I selected “Problem with the order” and then “Wrong item or not as expected”. When Chat opened, I explained the situation at hand: The seller’s ad copy in their listing says silicone, the box says silicone, but it’s not silicone. They didn’t ask me to prove it; they didn’t ask me how I knew. I chose to tell them about my blog and a little about the flame test method. I could have also linked to the post where we talk about the flashlight test on clear TPR and silicone, but I didn’t need to.  They confirmed they were filing a report for me, and told me that if more customers give similar feedback, they’ll investigate the seller. 

I’ve always received good help from Amazon’s live chat, but sometimes it’s been clear that there’s been a bit of a language barrier. In the case of reporting the Tracy’s Dog vibrator, I could tell that the person I was speaking with understood the situation perfectly (and in fact asked me more about everything; she was a med student, too) and I didn’t need to further explain my links, my materials testing, etc. She appreciated the links I gave her though, and thanked me for doing research before contacting them. If others out there ever want to report this particular brand, feel free to link to my Tracy’s Dog vibrator post to give Amazon background information on the problems with the brand.

The bottom line here is this bit from my Live Chat conversation with Amazon – I was told by the Live Chat associate:

“I have submitted your claim. You may also leave feedback on the products review page for others to see. Hopefully we will get more claims and that will speed up the priority of the investigation.”

And when I asked about others reporting:

Those that have bought it from Amazon should definitely contact us as well because it brings the problem to our attention sooner than the reviews. The reviews are more for customers to have an idea as to what others think.”

Write a Customer Review

While the customer review won’t alert Amazon, it could help in deterring others from purchasing the item. Ultimately, this is what we want: we don’t want customers purchasing shady products from shady brands. You can write a customer review even if you haven’t purchased the sex toy from Amazon (but you should own the item, at least). Reviews from folks who’ve purchased though may hold more weight and will show as “Verified Review”.

Leave Seller Feedback

This is again only something that customers who purchased from Amazon can do. In your Orders history next to every item is a “Leave Seller Feedback” button.  I gave the seller 1 star, confirmed that it arrived on time, said that it wasn’t as advertised, and again discussed material discrepancy in the comments section. This will be seen by both Amazon and the seller. Too many bad seller feedback reports will also cause an investigation.

amazonreport4

Report Incorrect Information

There’s a link that you will only see if you’re logged in to your Amazon account, where you can report incorrect information. You don’t need to have purchased the product, but you should be certain that the information in the listing is incorrect. The link can be hard to spot; it floats around based on the size of the product picture.  If the picture is small, the link is right up under photo or bulleted list of product highlights. If the picture is large the link may float farther over to the right. Below are two examples.

amazonreport1

amasonreport2

When I clicked on the link, because the incorrect information was everywhere and not just the bulleted points, I chose “Other product details” first, and then after some thought I went back and reported again to point out the bulleted list. The next drop down wants to know what the issue is. I put “incorrect information”, but “product quality issue” may also be valid. On listings like the items I purchased for the Silica Gel post, I would choose “conflicting information” because those items said silicone in some parts of the listing, silica gel in others, and so on. Does it help to report over and over again on the product for every issue? I don’t know. Because we could say that the Tracy’s Dog rabbit vibrator also had “conflicting information” – while all of the ad copy from the seller, Tracy’s Dog, said silicone the Product Description (which I assume Amazon writes?) said TPR. But it only ever said TPR in that one little section, and that is easy to overlook when they say “silicone” 15 other places.

amazonreport3

It would take a massive effort worldwide, really, and I feel that this reporting needs to be done across the board – not just sex toys, but all items on Amazon that you receive which seem in poor shape. Counterfeit products are rampant on Amazon, products of all kinds, and these counterfeits are killing small businesses. Maybe a change can happen; maybe Amazon will just stop selling sex toys. Until this massive change happens, though, please think twice before you buy that sex toy from Amazon.  You’ll get much better customer care and support by shopping with amazing folks like Shevibe, Early to Bed, Come as You Are, Smitten Kitten and many other small, feminist shops both online and in-store  – for more information on where to shop, go to the last portion of this article.

 

 

  1. allow me this one moment of sheer optimism
 Posted by at 12:54 pm
Nov 272016
 

Remember when I thought that “Womanizer” was the worst name for a sex toy? “Tracy’s Dog” is worse, and it’s the brand name. It might be the worst brand name I’ve ever heard. Stick with me here; I know you may be wondering if it’s April 1st already but you’ll soon see this isn’t your average sex toy review.

Tracy’s Dog – A Brand I Do Not Trust

You won’t find “Tracy’s Dog” at the retailer I trust most, SheVibe, or other retailers I trust like Come as You Are, Early to Bed, Smitten Kitten, Babeland, and more. Where will you find it? The retailer I trust least – Amazon. Tracy’s Dog has been trying to get me to review their sex toys for ages now. They’ve sent a bunch of emails. I’ve always refused because I won’t review sex toys that come from Amazon and only Amazon because reasons. Some reviewers have tried out the brand, and not everyone hated it. There was a really eyebrow-raising issue with Cara Sutra’s Pleasure Panel reviewers and their “Liquid Silicone” dildos – two people received a “Liquid Silicone” dildo with a “Materials Test” result paper which supposedly came from a testing lab and claims the material is SILICA GEL – links and photos further down. Not silicone, for they are not the same thing. And as I’ve reported before, silica gel is a desiccant – not a sex toy material!

The Tracy’s Dog Flirt Rabbit sells for $13.98 at Amazon, is not made from silicone, and is a nightmare. I bought this stupid thing from Amazon for that piece I wrote illustrating water-clear TPR and cloudy-clear silicone. I also bought this because on the Amazon listing, in amidst all the SEO words, Tracy’s Dog claims it is silicone in the title. The “highlights” bullet list calls it silicone. The fucking packaging calls it silicone. Multiple places throughout the page call it silicone. Finally way down under “Product Description”, it’s called TPR. Most people will not see this, though, and think they’re buying affordable silicone. This. Is. Not. Silicone. This is why I avoid “white label” sex toy brands, and brands that you only see on sites like Amazon, Ebay, AliExpress and Groupon. The “branding” on this piece of junk is literally a fucking sticker. So yeah, be prepared to see this godawful thing from other “brands”, too.

51xasgt4mjl

“Tracy’s Dog® Flirt Rotating Bullet 36-frequency Thrusting Soft Silicone Powerful Rabbit Vibratoir G-spot Stimulation Vibe Clit Masturbation Dildo (Purple)”

*sigh*

  1. It’s not silicone.
  2. What is 36-frequency?
  3. Vibratoir?
  4. Not a Dildo
  5. SUITABLE FOR BAR FLIRTING

AND THEN. Oh because the listing gets better. We’re still up at the top here – just under the image where they bullet-list the highlights and say:

The rabbit vibrator is made of healthy senior silicone, crystal clear,vivid skin touch feeling

What, pray tell, is “healthy senior silicone”? Also, no, not “skin touch” feeling. It feels like goddamn softened plastic. I’ve felt TPR that does feel realistic-ish, but not this!

Realistic big glans,telescopic bead design, 36-frequency vibrating,adjustable power,can auto thrust to you body, direct sexual desire,like a fire burning all your passion

Oh, you’ll feel a fire, alright, after you’ve used it too many times and the itsy bitsies living in the pores give you a yeast infection.

“Rotating, Vibrating, Thrusting, knock the door of your heart.”

  • The design of this product bases on in-depth analysis of the Europe and the United States female’s sexual-mind. Its size and appearance according with human body engineering design can let a female fondle admiringly.
  • Thrusting soft silicone combined with strong power motor creates infinite fun. ..Powerful rotating bullets coupled with the unique flapping wings make you passionate.
  • Built-in the most advanced motor, provide a steady stream of power for the strong speed.

The two long cute antennas and wings vibrating with36 frequency tender massage your body, releasing all of your sexual desire and pleasure. The realistic soft big glans can thrust into your body slowly, conducting you into a wonderful happy world. Under the glans penis, the large raised silica gel points stimulate the right place, making you excited. The 101 pleasure floating-point around the stick, surrounding the passion of thread, give you a good friction.12 adjustable speed,36 frequency and 360 ° rotation can fully satisfy you.

1. For couples: This toy can satisfy curiosity and increase the newness.

2. For solo: No longer lonely with it in the night.

3. For the senior players: It helps you explore new things.

4. For beginner: It provides the instant resource for love.

tracysdogbox tracysdogbox2

Note: Text appearing in dark red is directly from the Amazon listing, and written by the brand. There’s just so much to unpack here, and this is only the fucking Amazon listing. So, it’s right there on the Amazon page, why did I copy it, you’re wondering? In case they change it – plus it’s funny (and sad).”No longer lonely in the night” – now, if we were talking about an actual dog, providing actual companionship, sure. But a vibrator? A vibrator will not ease your lonliness, nor is it meant to. Vibrators are also not there for love. The orgasms you get from a really great sex toy that makes you come harder than you thought possible, the kind of sex toy that makes you want to give them as gifts to everyone you meet – sure, those may produce endorphins that mimic love and if you try to steal my Pure Wand or Kate’s Double Trouble you will be hurt. But love? Ehhh, you’re pushing it.

Sure, we can absolutely chalk a lot of this up to “lost in translation”. After all, the vibrator is made for Asian women. Not kidding.  In amongst all of the typos and bad translation it says on the back of the packaging: “the product Dimensions boby [sic] feature based on Asian design, tailored specifically for Asian women”.  Also on the back of the package is where they say that it is “crystal clear silicone”. Um, no, no it’s not. You want proof beyond this post? It failed the flame test spectacularly.

tracysdogburn tracysdogburn2 tracysdogburn3

Anyway. Since this post is about this particular vibrator, I want to tell you a few things about it.

  1. Yes, it thrusts. Poorly.
  2. Yes, it rotates. However the rotating section of “beads” has sharp points on it and can be felt through the thin material.
  3. The only part that vibrates is the clitoral arm, which is, of course, buzzy and mediocre at best. Not powerful.
  4. It’s shit. Even if it were silicone, it’d be shit. Don’t fucking buy it!

I Won’t Trust a Brand Who Lies

Here’s the thing. Yes, there are products from this brand that are indeed silicone. There are positive reviews for these products from sex toy reviewers. But I will never endorse ANY Tracy’s Dog product, ever, despite it being affordable silicone because they lie. They’ve lied in 16 ways about this rabbit vibe; they’ve lied about those “Liquid Silicone” dildos – even though that 2016-dated product material test affidavit went out with multiple dildos they claim it was a TYPO and sent out another test report from a different lab DATED 2010. SIX FUCKING YEARS AGO.  Below you can see the two test papers that were sent to the reviewer and originally appeared at carasutra.com in this review, used with permission from Cara. At the left is the 2016 report, which doesn’t name any specific sex toy, listing the material as “silica gel”. At the right is the 2010 report, again not naming any specific sex toy. You can see what an actual materials test report looks like from a reliable lab by visiting BadVibes.org. I’ve also sent out an item for testing to a lab and received the same test report styling as BadVibes did. No decent lab would put forth such strange, vague test result papers.

Tracy's Dog material test paper from a lab reads: Sample Name - Sex toy. Sample Material: Silica Gel. Tracy's Dog Materials Test Report from a different lab, offered up as the "real" lab test. No sex toy name is defined, material is "liquid silicone rubber" and the report is dated 2010

Update: A review of the “Tracy’s Dog Double Silicone Thick Dildo” brought yet another atrocity to my attention. As the reviewer states, the company lists it as having a soft TPE exterior and a silicone interior. This just isn’t done. There’s no reason for it, and the silicone (if there is any) is hidden under a layer of porous material. Again, I don’t trust this at all. More lies!

I can’t recommend this company, at all, for any product, full stop. Even the items rated well by other bloggers can be found in similar form from more reputable companies. The brand Tracy’s Dog now live on my Blacklist. If you need an affordable sex toy, check out my list of sex toys under $35.

35under35small

 

ETA: At the suggestion of others I decided to contact Amazon. Their A-to-Z thing wasn’t activated (when looking at orders history, you should see a “help with this order” button or something, and I didn’t) so I ventured into Live Chat. I’m sharing the chat, but I want to point out: the way to get dodgy sellers/brands like Tracy’s Dog off Amazon is for CONSUMERS to file reports the way I’ve done. If enough people who’ve purchased the item report it as misleading ad copy, etc to an Amazon associate, then an investigation may be opened.  There is also a “report incorrect product information” link to click on the page, which can be done by anybody. It took me a little looking to find it, but it’s up at the top, after the item photos, on the right side. 

In my chat with an Amazon associate, once I explained what the situation is and showed them the link to Cara’s review with the shady lab test reports, etc, I was told that the person was filing a claim so that the item page can be taken down for review. I confirmed that I personally didn’t want a replacement, that I wanted to report the brand & seller. The helpful associate let me know she was asking her supervisor for any other steps that can be taken to report the problem. I was told: “I have submitted your claim. You may also leave feedback on the products review page for others to see. Hopefully we will get more claims and that will speed up the priority of the investigation.” and when I asked about others reporting: “Those that have bought it from Amazon should definitely contact us as well because it brings the problem to our attention sooner than the reviews. The reviews are more for customers to have an idea as to what others think.”

 

Nov 062016
 

Womanizer vs Satisfyer Comparison Guide

The Womanizer vs Satisfyer Comparison Guide

This thing has taken on a life of its own as I polled folks for the comparison info they most wanted to see. This meant that the once-tidy-and-small comparison chart has grown to monster proportions. Below you’ll find a small graphic of the chart; click to see it full-size. If you need to see the text Excel spreadsheet, visually-impaired readers can comment here or contact me and I’ll send it to you. If you’re curious on what some of the measurements mean you can just ask me or see the incredibly bad drawing at the bottom of the post.

The chart provides a large amount of quantifiable data and a few subjective opinions. The brief product overviews below provide more insight into my personal opinions on each item, while the full reviews hold back nothing (naturally). A lot of you want to know which product(s) I’d recommend the most and, as usual, my answer starts with “it depends…”.

If you…

  • Have certain mobility issues, flexibility issues, grip issues, or a larger body: Womanizer PRO40 has the best button placement & ergonomic design
  • Are curious about the tech and wonder if it’ll work for you: Satisfyer 1 is cheap enough to test, get you by for a few months & then upgrade if you want
  • Agree that intensity navigation is important but can’t afford the Womanizer PRO40: Satisfyer 2 is your only option
  • Don’t have grip issues, don’t have small hands, and want the best quality: Womanizer Deluxe (W500) is the top pick for many
  • Prefer rechargeables, but can’t afford the PRO40: Satisfyer Pro 2 is slightly better than Satisfyer Pro Penguin in a pro/con list
  • Care about supporting an ethical company: Womanizer PRO40 and Womanizer Deluxe (W500). For more info, read on
  • So far seem to have a definite preference for wands vs pinpoint stim: Buy a Doxy.
  • Like pinpoint stimulation but have a notoriously picky clitoris, and prefer rumbles: Womanizer PRO40. Satisfyers can feel too buzzy!

For quite some time I regarded the Womanizer with a healthy dose of side-eye; I was quite sure that it wouldn’t work for me. I remained skeptical of the many glowing reviews. When you’ve been reviewing sex toys for 8 years, you can often get a really good feel for the facts just by reading a handful of reviews. But the Womanizer shocked me – in fact, it left me speechless. It took me months to write my first Womanizer review because I felt like I couldn’t explain why I liked it or who else might like it (or hate it). I felt that the price of the Womanizer W100 was too much when I couldn’t confidently tell someone they would like it if they like X Y and Z. So for all of my issues with the build quality and company ethics of Satisyfer, I have to appreciate models like the Satisfyer 1 for their sheer affordability.

A Note on Suction: And this applies to every Satisfyer and Womanizer pressure-wave toy on the market: These seem to have very little actual suction. Suction can be great for bringing in extra blood flow to the genitals, and there are vulva/clitoral pumps for that purpose (or that awful pre-arousal thing, Fiera) – so I don’t want folks expecting any appreciable suction with these toys. I’ve been told by Womanizer there is no vacuum/suction, instead, the technology is “pressurized air pulses”. Yes, despite what parts of their site say and many other sites say, I asked and they responded. It may mimic the feeling of suction to a small degree, perhaps. I was able to see this better with these Satisfyer models, as shown in this video. There’s a lil nubbin in there moving rapidly in a small space, creating air pulses that match the nub’s speed. Then I did an informal experiment on a Womanizer toy to show that air is coming out, not being drawn in. It’s confusing, trust me. epi24 (Womanizer) said: “We prefer to call it Pleasure Air Technology”. Well, alrighty then. I’ll see what Satisfyer has to say, if they ever answer me.

A Note On Using These Underwater: While every other test seemed to tell me the same thing Womanizer did – that there’s no vacuum motor – putting these underwater did yield some suction. Mild, but more than regular use which is nearly nothing. I also noticed that if I held the nozzle tip a millimeter or so away from contact – just hovering – the “jackhammering” sensation kicked in and was the most amplified with the Satisfyer Pro 2. It reminded me a lot of the Wahl on high. I ran every model under water for a bit to make sure none were immediately affected adversely (I don’t have a tub, so I can’t use them this way). A few have reported that using the Satisfyer Pro Penguin under water resulted in getting water trapped somewhere in there, so I do worry about their quality (again).

Womanizer vs Satisfyer Comparison Chart

Womanizer vs Satisfyer Comparison Chart *

Womanizer vs Satisfyer Comparison Chart

If you need more details or views on the various silicone heads, please ask.

Image of Womanizer and Satisfyer silicone nozzle heads view 1 Image of Womanizer and Satisfyer silicone nozzle heads view 2

Womanizer Models

While I still feel that the overall cost of the Womanizer Deluxe (W500) is way too high, and I worry that the price point of the Womanizer PRO40 ($99) can’t compete with the Satisfyer range, I feel pretty confident about the build quality of the Womanizer line. Maybe their Deluxe W500 model wasn’t built for someone like me, but their PRO40 definitely was. It’s clear that thought and purpose when into the designs, and as Womanizer has noted – they pioneered this technology.

For those asking: I will review the Womanizer +Size when it comes out. I was originally told it’s not out until April, despite being featured on the site for the last few months.

A note on the 30-day guarantee with Womanizer: Recently on Instagram Womanizer said “orgasms guaranteed” and I had to comment; I asked if their 30-day money-back promise was still in effect and they said “Yes! For the Deluxe and Delight versions!” Uh…wtf is the Delight version? They informed me that the Deluxe is W500, and Delight is W100 (except, it’s been discontinued). They stated there is no guarantee on the PRO40, sadly. There is no mention on the website of this 30-day money-back guarantee. If they give you a hassle, you can show them this screencap from Instagram where they publicly said it’s still a thing.

Womanizer W100

Womanizer W100Definitely discontinued – One thing that the Womanizer W100 has that the others lack is a really nice storage case. Sure, it’s baby-pink and has “Womanizer” emblazoned on it, but it’s really nice to keep the extra head, and charging accessories, all together. The W100 is the quietest model because it lacks the more intense levels. I feel that when the Womanizer W100 is pressed against your vulva, it’s nearly silent. Even when you break contact, it’s not that loud – 62 decibels. The Womanizer W100 has only one button but the power button can be tapped during use to bring you back down to the first intensity level. As of February 2017 update to this guide, no website is carrying the W100 model and it has been discontinued.

Womanizer Deluxe Pro / W500

Womanizer W500One word: Awkward – For as much as I loved the Womanizer W100, I thought I’d love the Deluxe W500 even more. Sure, it introduced the necessary plus and minus buttons to easily navigate the increased levels, but the power button was harder to press. The buttons are now located on the back side of the body, facing away from you, and are located in a place that is very awkward for me during use. The short, fat stature also makes it harder for me to hold. The designs of the Womanizer W500 are a little more classy, but still very femme with the exception White Chrome design – but even that has a Swarovski crystal “element” as the power button. The W500 is priced way, way too high at $219. It’s absolutely ridiculous and I can’t recommend this model with the other choices available. The W500 comes in the aforementioned White Chrome; Black Leopard, Red Roses, and Magenta Lace. The Womanizer Deluxe also comes with an XL head; the measurements aren’t in the chart because it’s complicated. While most nozzles have some extra width where the silicone touches your body, the canal of the nozzles are pretty straight. The Womanizer’s XL head is decidedly more funnel-shaped, so when I measured the interior, I put the calipers about 2mm down inside the “funnel” since I think part of the interior is going to touch flesh. The exterior ridge is 22 x 24.5 mm, and the interior is 18.6 x 19.9 mm.

—> In-Depth Review
—> Purchase at Shevibe
—> View/Download User Manual

Womanizer PRO40

Womanizer PRO40Practically Perfect – Until this model, Womanizer remained an overpriced, luxury item. And while $99 for the new Womanizer PRO40 still is considered luxury, out-of-reach pricing to many, it’s a bit more attainable than the price of other Womanizer models. The Womanizer PRO40 came out in response to the much cheaper Satisfyer knock-offs – and unlike the W100 or W500, the more affordable Womanizer PRO40 is waterproof, with a plain design that is a welcome change. It may still be more expensive than any Satisfyer, but the PRO40 has the features that keep me coming back to the Womanizer brand – comfortable nozzle heads, intuitive designs, and better navigation buttons. The PRO40 combines the best of the W100 (body, button placement) with the best of the W500 (extra power for those who need it, and up/down level navigation buttons), adds in waterproofing and takes away cost. I’m happy to have a slightly louder motor in exchange. The Womanizer PRO40 also comes with an XL head; the measurements aren’t in the chart because it’s complicated. While most nozzles have some extra width where the silicone touches your body, the canal of the nozzles are pretty straight. The Womanizer’s XL head is decidedly more funnel-shaped, so when I measured the interior, I put the calipers about 2mm down inside the “funnel” since I think part of the interior is going to touch flesh. The exterior ridge is 22 x 24.5 mm, and the interior is 18.6 x 19.9 mm. 

—> In-Depth Review
—> Purchase at Shevibe
—> View/Download User Manual

Even though the Womanizer Pro 40 is a little louder vs W100 or W500, it’s now my top recommendation over every brand and model. As of Feb 2017 update, PRO40 has been out of stock at retailers without a known restock date. I’ll update when I hear more.

Satisfyer Models

The lower quality of build is definitely common across all Satisfyer models, and this is something that is honestly only apparent to me because I’ve tried all 3 available Womanizer models. I admit that I felt that many elements of the W100 seemed cheaply done when the price is taken into consideration, but it feels elegant in comparison to most Satisfyer models. I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again, that I realize I’m pickier than most. And I also want to point out my privilege in not finding the word “Womanizer” triggering, the way many non-binary, genderqueer, and trans folks might. I realize that, for them, my insistence on preferring the Womanizer PRO40 is very frustrating. I know that some sex toy shops won’t even carry the Womanizer because of the name. The part of me that refuses to work with sex toy shops that heavily gender their sex toy listings is incredibly frustrated that I can’t find a Satisfyer product that I like overall half as much as I like that damn Womanizer PRO40. 

On the higher intensity settings, the Satisfyer motors tend to all feel buzzy, like a vibrator. They lose that unique quality of “tapping” or rapid pressure taps that can mimic oral sex in a way. Instead, many become overkill, and feel very uncomfortable for me.

If you forced me to rank the Satisfyer models from best to worst I would be cranky and say: Satisfyer 1, Satisfyer 2, Satisfyer Pro 2, Satisfyer Pro Penguin, Satisfyer Pro Deluxe. Completely subjective, though.

A note on Satisfyer models and the User Manuals: Every user manual seems to be roughty the same when it comes to the warnings, and they all warn you not to get your credit cards too close, etc because of magnets. I don’t understand how there would be magnets in these, except for the few models that charge magnetically. Not all do, though. Strange.

A note on Satisfyer and warranties: Despite not advertising it at all, buried in legalese in their Terms and Conditions is mention of a warranty. I’ve been told that there is a 1 year warranty, and if you need to use that, email info@satisfyer.com. Thanks to Nikki at Fairvilla’s Sex Things for letting me know that they’ve tested that warranty and had a good experience! I don’t know what the parameters are, but you can download a copy of the T&C here, PDF.

Satisfyer Pro 2 – The Old and The New

Satisfyer Pro 2Affordable? Nah, Cheap – Rather than rename the Satisfyer Pro 2, the company made two changes and kept the name and design the same. This means that with most retailers you won’t know which model you’re buying, because they’re priced the same, too. You’d only know to see it in person – the new version has “Satisfyer” in raised lettering along the handle (shown here). Satisfyer boasted that the new Pro 2 was “90% more quiet” than before. Using my amateur decibel meter the difference is 9 points – the loudest rating on the lowest setting is 63dB on the new model vs 72dB on the old – it’s been explained to me by others that this does equal a 90% difference. It’s definitely a noticeable change, yet it is still one of the loudest models on the lower settings. And the high levels? Identical when not pressed against the vulva – when pressed against the vulva, the new Pro 2 is a bit more quiet. One strange quirk: The clicky clacky of the buttons on the Satisfyer Pro 2 is the loudest in the entire bunch. Louder than the motor itself. The Satisfyer Pro 2 comes in one color that is very gender-neutral, even if the packaging isn’t1. The button location isn’t the best for me and my preference but it may not bother you as much.

—> In-Depth Review
—> Purchase at Shevibe
—> View/Download User Manual

Satisfyer 1

Battery-powered and basic, Satisfyer 1 is a decent introduction to pressure-wave toys. If you think you’ll want the Womanizer models but are afraid to drop that much money, try out the Satisfyer 1 for awhile, knowing that upgrading to the Womanizer will only make your experience better. If the Satisfyer 1 doesn’t work at all for you, then I doubt any of these will work. It’s pretty cheaply made, so I actually don’t expect it to stand the test of time. Satisfyer 1 has the most comfortable head of the cheaper Satisfyer models; it is similar to the Pro 2. The single-button design is basic, but the intensity isn’t awful (and is better than the Penguin). It’s not the most powerful Satisfyer, but it’s definitely in the running.

—> In-Depth Review
—> Purchase at Shevibe
—> View/Download User Manual

Satisfyer 2

Battery-powered and confusing. Satisfyer 2 adds in something that no other Satisfyer model boasts: plus and minus up/down navigation buttons, a feature I’ve come to rely on. Unfortunately, the body design of the Satisfyer 2, combined with button placement, makes it unwieldy. It’s also the loudest model now being sold. Some may even say it’s also the ugliest version; the boxy 1970’s-style body reminds you of a straight-stemmed tobacco pipe, or maybe the Nike logo. The batteries rattle around, too. It has more silicone in the nozzle than the Pro Deluxe or Pro Penguin, but less than the Satisfyer 1 or Pro 2. If the noise factor and button location dooesn’t bother you, and you really feel that you, like me, need the extra plus and minus intensity navigation buttons, this is a begrudging green-light to buy this if you can’t yet afford the superior Womanizer PRO40. I will forever curse the button placement on the Satisfyer 2 because it coulda been a contender.

—> In-Depth Review
—> Purchase at Shevibe
—> View/Download User Manual

Satisfyer Pro Penguin

Satisfyer Pro PenguinSmall and cute, the Satisfyer Pro Penguin will appeal to those not as picky as me. I have a huge gripe about the teeny, tiny silicone nozzle head that pops off easily (even during use, for me), and it’s corresponding lack of comfort plus difficulties maintaining a “seal”. The angle of head-to-body is less than other models so this means that the body of the toy will be angled further away from you. Coupled with its short stature this may mean it’s hard to hold for some folks with larger bodies or shorter arms (or the annoying combination of the two, like me). Like many Satisfyer models it has a brightly glowing LED light under the translucent silicone button. This is the only Satisfyer model that has the button facing your body, which is more comfortable for me but thin folks may find this causes the LED to glare in their eyes if they use it in the dark. I would probably recommend the Satisfyer Pro 2 over this, unless you simply cannot ignore the cute factor. You can read my full review here for extreme detail.

—> In-Depth Review
—> Purchase at Shevibe (Canadians find it at CAYA)
—> View/Download User Manual

Satisfyer Pro Deluxe

Move Along. It’s awful, and I won’t recommend it to anyone. The design is way off the mark and it’s not comfortable to hold. Buy literally any other model. The Satisfyer Pro Deluxe has no redeemable qualities, unless you think that pranking someone by wrapping it up like a potato would be your idea of a good time. But even then, don’t buy it. A short, but rage-filled, review is coming soon if you don’t believe me on how awful it is.

* A few things to note about this comparison chart:

  1. As new similar products are available to retailers, and I try them, I’ll add them to the chart. By similar I mean no vibrations, just this air pulsing whoosiewhatsit.
  2. The decibels were tested with my phone and a sound meter. Due to the idling-engine type sound that the motors make on low, the sound meter jumped around a lot. The lower numbers then represent the loudest that the first settings will get. Also, I tested the sound levels without the nozzle being completely covered, like it would be in use. When the nozzle is completely covered the sound is dampened a lot.
  3. Charge and use time reports are varying from retailer info to manufacturer website / product manual info. One reports the Satisfyer has 120 minutes of use, while their web-version user manual reports only 30 minutes. When I can get an accurate number, I’ll add it.
  4. I feel that the fat & short design of the Womanizer W500 is awkward to hold and more awkward to press buttons. Womanizer boasts it being more comfortable to hold. We’ll agree to disagree, I guess.

The Knock-Off Issue with Satisfyer

Like anything popular, counterfeit and copycat products quickly flooded Amazon, AliExpress, eBay, etc. It never takes long after “white label”2 versions of popular brands are available for the emails about them to start hitting my inbox3. As you can see in this email screenshot there’s a knock-off of the Womanizer tech in a different body with a wholesale price of $20. At first glance, Satisfyer seemed to have fixed the primary complaints about Womanizer: design, name, price. But when you use any Satisfyer model side-by-side with any Womanizer it’s glaringly obvious that the price increase with the Womanizer will get you a product that is better made. I also just have a really hard time supporting a product that is such an obvious rip-off – maybe you don’t agree, and you need to have the most affordable option which I respect.

When I saw the Satisfyer brand, it was really clear that they’re going after the Womanizer market4 with this non-vibrating air-pulsation technology – they went the cheap route though with the motor and design, allowing the retail price to be so much lower than the Womanizer that they were guaranteed to steal a large chunk of the Womanizer’s potential customers5.

 

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  1. features a white femme person
  2. White label is when a manufacturing plant makes a product, but they are not necessarily a brand – they offer to make things for your brand. You, the brand company, don’t really design anything, you just slap your brand name on the packaging and maybe pick a slightly different color scheme. This is why you can often see a dozen nearly-identical sex toys on the sub-par retailer market
  3. Side note: why the hell do these companies think bloggers are retailers?
  4. **After this post went live** two folks commented via Facebook about their interactions with Satifyer reps at SHE NYC. One said: “True story, at this years SHE Expo in Brooklyn the Satisfyer representative said flat out to my wife and I that they took the “poorly designed Womanizer and made it better” then proceeded to essentially brag about how they got away with it adding how they considered a powerful patent lawyer part of the cost of bringing the Satisfyer to market. I mean, the guy was chuckling about it.” You know, this is not how a decent company behaves. At all. Jesus fuck.
  5. The company behind the Satisfyer has denied that they’ve outright copied the Womanizer tech; Womanizer responded by slapping them with patent infringement but it won’t hold water outside of Germany
Oct 232016
 

Silicone sex toys have come a long way, baby. I often am asked to give someone my opinion on whether or not a sex toy is actually the silicone it claims to be. When the material is opaque it’s hard to tell visually but the proliferation of clear jelly/TPR material in sex toys gives me a leg up in making a call. I’ve frequently warned on my blog that “clear silicone sex toys won’t be crystal-clear, they’ll be cloudy-clear”. Yet earlier this year I was reassuring multiple people that a new guy on the block, Funkit, was definitely creating clear silicone sex toys. Why the panic? Probably because my differentiation between “crystal clear” and “cloudy clear” is skimmed over and the focus is on “clear”. Today I’m hopefully going to give you better tools, and a better understanding, of the differences between clear silicone sex toys and clear TPR sex toys if you don’t want to, or can’t, do a flame test.  And while Funkit isn’t the only brand to use clear silicone it is the brand people have asked me about the most lately. Other brands that have used a clear silicone include Vixen and Vamp; you’ll notice Vixen using it in their Hitachi Wand caps. Vamp uses a clear silicone but heavily infuses it with glitter. A brand that has been around awhile, quit, moved to Etsy, quit again was Jollie/Chavez Dezignz – they made the polka-dot dildo many of you would remember.

Clear As….Water?

In many past posts I’d used the terms “crystal clear” to describe what PVC/TPR/Jelly toys look like and “Cloudy Clear” to describe what clear silicone toys look like. Kenton, the ingenious person behind Funkit, graciously allowed me to pick his brain to help better explain things to y’all. According to Kenton the term “water-clear” is a better descriptor to use, and he’s right (unless your water isn’t clear…). While both materials are certainly translucent (and thin samples of clear TPR might even be considered transparent), the silicone we would want our sex toys to be made of can never be water-clear. There is water-clear silicone, something Kenton reminded me of that Metis told me a long time ago; but it isn’t a sex toy material, because it gets brittle and doesn’t hold up well, plus is very hard.

Cloudy-Clear vs Water-Clear

When it comes to a relatively thick chunk of translucent silicone, like the head of the Funkit dildo shown below, you can see that it wouldn’t be called water-clear. This is the perfect example of “cloudy clear”. Even with the Funkit silicone paddles, as thin as they are, you can still tell that it’s kinda cloudy. But as you can see below the head of the TPR vibrator is as thick as the head of the Funkit dildo – And as thick as it is, it’s still a lot more translucent than the clear silicone.

Most clear silicone sex toys will never be any less cloudy than this, which is considerably less water-clear than translucent TPR

If you’re still unsure, and you can see it in person Kenton told me about the light trick, which is pretty neat:

Visually, cloudy clear, but highly transparent silicones often lend an amber hue to light that passes through them, especially thick parts. This is true of my toys, at least, and all the silicones I’ve worked with, including many Wacker samples and Reynolds Advanced Materials. That’s a pretty good test, but flame testing is still important.

When I just held my LED light up to it I didn’t really notice what he was talking about but the moment I shone the light through the material onto a white surface, the answer was clear. Below this paragraph in the photo on the left I’m shining my light through a Funkit Swing dildo; you can see the light that passes through is very amber-yellow. The photo on the right shows the same light shining through the head of the Tracy’s Dog not-silicone rabbit vibrator. There’s no color distortion to the light as it passes through.  I don’t know how this test would fare if the clear silicone were tinted, like many water-clear TPR toys, such as this. Kenton has said that it is possible to all-over tint the clear silicone like that, he just doesn’t do it.

Shining a bright light through clear silicone sex toys distorts the white light to a warm amber Shining a light through a clear TPR sex toy won't distory the light color

Price, Brand, Feel

Price, and brand reputability, will give you many clues. The brands you will see claiming their water-clear material is silicone are nearly never being sold through reputable retailers and are almost always under-$40. One brand that I’ve only seen on Amazon, the terribly-named Tracy’s Dog, is one example. While the company does produce silicone items that are indeed silicone, they also sell items like the rabbit vibrator in my pictures – priced at $13.98, you won’t find clear silicone sex toys for that price. But what if it’s a frosty translucent material, from an Amazon brand, and cheap? Is it silicone? I think I’ll have to purchase it and do a flame test. I do know from my trials with items listed on Amazon as “silica gel” that you can have a soft, nice-feeling frosty translucent item that is NOT silicone. The “guess by looking” isn’t fool proof, obviously, but we have to start somewhere. However, the more clear the silicone is, the better the quality of the silicone, the higher the price.

Another clue is confusing listings with poorly-translated ad copy. As you’ll see from these Amazon listings the material can be described as silicone, TPR, and medical silica gel all in the same listing. “Medical silica gel” is not a sex toy material so when in doubt always assume the lesser material if you can’t tell just by the level of transparency.

I mentioned price up there when I talked about the cheap items you might find on Groupon, Amazon, AliExpress or Ebay. But not all PVC/TPR rabbit vibrators are cheap. For reasons I’ll never understand companies like Doc Johnson and CalExotics, or Evolved Novelties sometimes charge a pretty penny for TPR rabbit vibes – but at least they’re honest now in the materials description, and call it TPR – so long as you’re shopping with a reputable retailer.

Often when you see bigger brand clear silicone sex toys, like this silicone rabbit vibe, the silicone is more cloudy (frosted?) than the stuff used by Funkit, Vixen, Vamp, etc. It could be down to a difference in shore, silicone type & quality (medical, food grade1, etc) or silicone price (the more clear, the more expensive). It could also be a difference between RTV silicone that is hand-poured and LIM or liquid injection molding.

Feel – this one is harder to put into words, for me. Often a TPR or PVC clear material can feel a bit oily, but not always. When I was trying to find a word to describe what I was feeling, what came to mind was “squeaky” but that’s a sound, not a word. I can rub my thumb over these materials and I actually kinda can hear a sound. When I’m done rubbing my hands over these materials, if they don’t feel obviously oily, my the skin on hands still is left feeling strange – like there’s a chemical residue. I don’t experience any of this with silicone. The only residue that’s been left on my hands after fondling some silicone is a silky feeling. I think that once you can feel both materials side by side, you’ll always know how to tell in the future.

Thanks Kenton!!

Kenton Johnston is the man behind Funkit, and he’s creating some pretty amazing stuff. Yes, the vivid swirls of pigment suspended in translucent silicone is different and gorgeous but he also is thinking way outside the box – from his unique suction-cup-and-butt-friendly base design to these really cool hand sex silicone texture rings he’s trying to get funded on Indiegogo – I’ve seen them in person and I definitely think they’ll work as advertised. He’s a big sex geek, like us, and fortunately was happy to let him pester him with all sorts of questions to help me easily show you how to tell if these clear silicone sex toys are really true to their advertising. For now you can buy Funkit products direct, but I hope that soon he’ll get his stuff into the hands of progressive retailers like Early to Bed, Smitten Kitten, and Shevibe.

 

Clear silicone sex toys, even when the material is thin like the base of this Funkit dildo, are still more cloudy than transparent TPR

Find Funkit on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

  1. Medical grade isn’t everything, and I feel confident now recommending other grades especially when it’s listed as food grade. Kenton told me that “Food grade silicone is tested to FDA standards for food safety, which involves submerging a sample on ethyl alcohol, water, oil, and acetone and seeing if anything leaches out in any of these. If harmful substances come out of the material, it is bad, and should feel bad. Medical grade silicone has to be able to be implanted for a certain amount of time, and is tested differently for different duration. There’s also medical silicone for prosthetics, and this has its own tests as well. Medical grade silicone is also made in cleanroom settings. The thing is, a sex toy is something that is most likely going to come in contact with mucous membranes. It is not going to be implanted into your body. Anything that is safe for food necessarily has to be safe for mucous membranes like your mouth and anus, so food grade is a perfect fit for sex toys. While medical grade sounds better, it’s really overkill for the cost it adds, considering the extra effort in testing doesn’t add anything for a simply sexual  purpose.”
 Posted by at 9:55 pm