Aug 202017
 

My Blacklist of companies I don’t support is long and growing – companies seem to only be added, not removed. Until now. So why now, why Blush Novelties? The answer is complicated, yet simple. The answer is Ducky Doolittle. She recently started working there and she is a long-time sex educator that I have immense respect and adoration for. She is basically Saint Ducky of the Doolittles, Sex Toy Company Whisperer. She has ethics that line up with my own1, but she has insight into the industry that most of us don’t have: behind the scenes. I did not make this decision lightly; I took 5 months to wait and watch and ask questions.

Blush Novelties divider image 1

January 2016 – Blush got on my Blacklist last year when it was discovered that they’d copied the Tantus Uncut – they’d copied other Tantus designs years prior, but this one was new and happening in the age of social media call-out. Yet they didn’t get put on my Blacklist because of the copycat designs – that was probably 40% of my reasoning. Shevibe doesn’t carry the Blush products that are copycat designs so I figured I would simply never recommend those designs. The seething rage came from what happened as a result of that Twitter call-out. Their social media manager at the time denied the accusation but the dildo designer confirmed how they’d come up with the design and how it was impossible that it was anything other than a direct copy. The social media manager in charge of accounts during this Twitter call-out proceeded to lose their shit on Metis Black and every single blogger supporting Tantus. They hurled accusations and sharp words. Their behavior on Twitter was so reprehensible that it caused many bloggers to boycott them. My anger was evident in last year’s post, to say the least. We didn’t know who in the company had said those things, if it was a “random employee” or someone higher up. Over a year went by, quietly, before Ducky arrived on the scene. Because no one knew what to do with the social media accounts until she came aboard I remained blocked on Twitter for quite some time!

March 2017 – Ducky reached out to me via email, knowing how I felt. I asked a lot of questions and I wasn’t shy about sharing my opinions. This one answer from her five months ago made me open to working with Blush in the future: “The work I do is very subversive. It’s not about one sex toy. It’s not about one sex toy manufacturer. I work first for the end consumer. Second, for the undervalued worker. Being a feminist and working for a feminist adult company is the easy street. I prefer moving mountains, one little nudge at a time. And that is why I said about Blush, “this is a company I can really help.” They are trusting me and I am going to do right by them.” 

August 2017 – Then at Woodhull I had the chance to talk to her more; I decided that an interview was the best format because her words are what changed my mind and I want to pass that on. Ducky doesn’t take jobs where she can’t educate and make a difference and speaking with her it was crystal clear that Blush is the right mix of everything she needs – a good foundation and willingness to be bettter. I trust Ducky to guide this company and keep them on the right path. I believe Ducky when she tells me of the changes that have been made and the different direction this company is taking. I have been impressed with their new, affordable silicone sex toys and now feel comfortable recommending those items without any reserve. 

Blush Novelties divider image 2

Can you tell me a little bit about why you chose to work for Blush? 

I have a unique insight into North American pleasure product companies in part because I had been working as a buyer for a large distributor. This meant I worked with all the major brands. I had meetings with their team and got to know the companies more intimately. When I was ready to leave my position with the distributor I gave a lot of thought to who I might want to work with. Blush was at the top of my list.

The simple answer why I choose Blush is because it is a young company, with lots of potential. Blush also has a very creative, diverse team. The owners like my frankness and value my experience, my integrity, and my creative input. I felt like “here is a company that needs me and that I could have a real, honest impact on”.

Some of the older companies are buried deep in their mindsets when it comes to the products they create. They are big and when it comes to change and innovation it’s like asking an ocean liner to turn; they are slow. Blush is open minded, nimble, and full of unstoppable energy.

An issue some bloggers have had with Blush is their copying of the designs of other brands. Can you tell us how this happened?

I was not with Blush when that happened, but I did have honest conversations with the teams inside the building over the impact that has had on our reputation. One of the issues I believe Blush has faced is that we are not a large company, but the company has ambitiously sought to be competitive with the larger companies.

With larger pleasure product brands, creating “like products” is very common. Often, they are importing from the same manufacturing facilities and just putting their brand on the packages. Other times big sex toys companies move more like the fashion world. By the time one designer has a style hit the end of the runway at a show, there are multiple companies drawing and cutting a pattern for something of that style. I am not saying it’s right, but it is the way big business often runs. It doesn’t matter if it’s potato chip flavors, make-up pigments and packaging, book publishing, fashion, or sex toys. Big business is brutal.

Today Blush is pulling away from that model. We are very tuned in to consumer reviews, we spend a lot of time with retail store staff members to get their feedback, we have grown our creative team, and we have more designers who work to engineer our own motors and casings with a lot of care. I can say that Blush hears loud and clear how making like products impacts both bloggers and loyal consumers. I hope sexuality writers feel proud and continue to give honest feedback. As for how Blush products are being designed today? Almost every product in production moves across my desk as we move it though the prototyping phases. I get to assess the worth for the buying public. I get to give feedback on design, and how to enhance designs to best fit pleasure anatomy. I get to write the product descriptions and features for upcoming Blush products.

*Lilly’s Note on this topic: It may be “how things are done” in the business, but I don’t like it. I do, however, have faith that Ducky’s conversations with the owner about this topic have happened, blogger & consumer input has been noted and I feel that it’s unlikely to happen again. A promise? No. But if they do it again my support may be pulled and Conversations Will Be Had.

A larger issue that caused a number of bloggers to dislike Blush and stop recommending them had little to do with their products and much to do with the way one social media manager treated us in 2016. You obviously weren’t there and don’t know the mindset of that person but does Blush understand overall that that can’t happen again?  Even when you’re someday not working for them? 

I know it was very hurtful for the bloggers who were engaged with Blush at the time. I am sorry that happened. It is my understanding there was an immediate shift that happened inside the company when the social media upset happened. I want the bloggers who were involved to know you had a positive impact on the Blush brand. We appreciate you for it.

The first thing Blush did was let that person go. The company then pulled back from social media for a while to assess how and why it happened, and how we could work to make sure it never happens again.

It’s kind of like when you have a bad experience at a restaurant. If it’s just one receptionist or server who does you wrong, it’s easier to forgive them and go back to that establishment again. But if the whole restaurant is full of rude and thoughtless personnel, then I would be forced to look at the top of the company, the managers and owners to see where the real problem lies.

Blush has made mistakes, but we own them and we work to be better and do better. I am happy to say I really trust and enjoy the owners at Blush. They are ambitious, but they also have open minds and hearts. The Blush staff is happy. My experience is that is hard to find in any industry. I can’t make any promises for what the future holds for any of us, but I have put my career and my family in their hands. As long as I am here, I will always seek to care for consumers, bloggers, retailers, and the Blush staff to the best of my abilities.

Blush Novelties divider image 3

Many folks have lumped Blush in with companies like Topco, Doc Johnson, NS Novelties due in part to the many more-porous materials used and the titillation packaging used on their older lines. Can you tell me how Blush is different, now? I understand they’ll never go fully silicone but are they making a shift to using better materials more often? 

We make products to meet the market demand. To be honest, most of the market is not buying the products that bloggers love to own and review. Your average per customer purchase in a brick and motor store is about $35. At Blush, we seek to please the average consumer by making higher quality products at affordable prices.

We love the highest quality materials. And the highest quality materials have been gaining more and more space in our catalog, for sure! The only porous material we use is our own proprietary blend of TPE. We use TPE because we can create the most realistic feeling strokers and dildos with soft TPE. Yes– it’s porous, intended for single person use, needs to be washed with care, and will not have a very long lifespan. As long as consumers enjoy TPE, we will seek to make the highest quality TPE on the market.

Most of our products however are made of non-porous silicone, ABS (hard) plastic, bioplastic (recyclable and corn starched based), or our proprietary blend of non-porous PVC2. Everything is tested by a Bay Area Compliance Laboratory Corp, an independent testing facility. These tests confirm all Blush products are made from body-safe materials3 and meets or exceeds international safety standards as set forth by CE, RoHS, REACH, and POP directives.

For the readers: Blush Novelties talks about their porous products being body-safe, but a Swedish Chemicals Agency tested random sex toys purchased at European retailers and found a supposed Blush product that failed one of their tests. After notifying Blush, who noted that they don’t sell products to that retailer, they found out that their products were being cloned (right down to the packaging) but made using unsafe materials. Since this does and will happen (with any brand), how can customers be sure that they’re getting a genuine Blush Novelties product? 

At this moment, it would be hard to know. Most of the knock off business happens on Amazon and Ebay but if you are buying from a quality retailer then you can feel safe. Soon you will see our packages coming out with anticounterfeit labels. Each product will have a unique code that you can submit on our website to ensure you have a legitimate Blush item.

And finally, what products are you the proudest of right now that you think bloggers should review and talk about more? 

Oh my… the list is long! I love our dual density, silicone Real Nude collection. I love every single piece! Our Hop dual action, rabbit style vibes are beautiful, with deep rumbly motors. Our Noje collection is giving every vibrator on the market a run for their money! Our Aria collection is full of powerful motors in silicone designs. And they are very affordable too!

Blush Novelties divider image 4

I’ve already tried, and loved, one of Blush’s newer silicone vibrators, the Nude Impressions 01. Because I’ve reviewed a lot of higher-priced sex toys this year (and have more still in my queue) I’m going to be trying out some affordable options from Blush. Their silicone dildos are already listed on my guide to silicone, suction-cup dildos and a few of their items are on my Sex Toys Under-$35 list – but I need to test these for myself. I’ll be reviewing the Real Nude Suko, Hop Trix, Aria Hue G, Luxe Purity 2, and the ultra-affordable Gaia Eco. Despite knowing that their porous sex toys are non-toxic, I just still can’t bring myself to recommend those materials 90% of the time on this blog so I’m trying to elevate the affordable, non-porous items.

Overall, this isn’t a 100% perfect resolution but I never expected perfection. In my conversations with Ducky (and a few others) I simply feel truly convinced that Blush has learned from their mistakes and are on the right path to being a better company. If you want to talk about it further with me, please let me know. If you have questions for Ducky, leave em in the comments.

Author’s note: This is not a sponsored post.Images courtesy Blush Novelties because I don’t own enough Blush products yet to take my own collage photo!

  1. she’s just not as publicly salty as moi
  2. Yes, this is something I’m going to expand on in the near future
  3. I personally prefer the term non-toxic when talking about anything that isn’t silicone, but I’m not editing Ducky’s words
 Posted by at 5:48 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.

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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.”

 

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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
Aug 142016
 

So I get a fair amount of people coming to me in fear, in panic and mostly in pain because they used a lower-quality sex toy made from a dubious material or a material that contains a supposedly “helpful” additive (hey, lookin at you Sil-a-gel) and they want to have their fears alleviated but also, you know, not be in pain. I’ve read the fear in emails from people terrified they have caused themselves some sort of permanent damage; or they went to their doctor who probably frowned and loosely diagnosed them (if they have a vagina) with BV or maybe a yeast infection. Maybe these people told their doctor about their sex toy. Maybe they themselves didn’t know that the sex toy could be the cause of their vaginal burning until they read my old post about jelly dildos or my newer post about Sil-a-gel. Regardless, they’re in pain and scared and want to be neither. Or, maybe, they used a lube with a nasty chemical in it that they have now reacted horribly to. I’ve read about mild chemical burns from shitty lubes, too.

I’m not a doctor. I’m not a medical professional of any kind. I did vet these solutions with a midwife, but you may want to check with your own doctor first. When you speak to your doctor, be honest about what is causing the problem, be it sex toy or lube. At the very least you’ll be educating your doctor because many of them don’t know that this is happening. Ask them for treatment advise for a chemical irritation/burn.

If You’re Pretty Sure The Burning Pain is From Your Sex Toy

And you are certain it is not made from silicone (and I mean CERTAIN), glass, or hard plastic – we then must assume there is some chemical in the softened plastic/vinyl (PVC is the usual culprit, possibly rubber, maybe some mystery material) that is causing this and that said material has probably begun to leach oils and break down. You may experience lingering pain and burning because the bad chemical is attached to an oil and you’re not getting the oil off your genitals. So first, let’s get those oils away from your sensitive mucous membranes.

Plain water douche OR milk douche (not skim milk) – The plain water may help, but the proteins and fats in the milk may be better. You know how when you eat something WAY too spicy from peppers and cold milk eases your pain? Same concept. This should be avoided if you’re allergic to cow’s milk. I do not know if non-dairy milks will help here – as Lorax explained their reasoning to this suggestion it was based on the proteins and fats in the milk.  You can expect to need to do this a few times over the first few days. You can also just buy a quart of organic cream and add it to water and do a sitz bath. Try both tepid water and cool water for this, see which gives you more relief. If your water is treated or hard water you may want to consider using filtered water or distilled water for this. You can get a sitz bath for your toilet at any pharmacy, they look like this.

While you (probably) don’t have a yeast infection, you might consider a vinegar douche as described here. It may help get rid of the oils, and it will also kinda reset your pH which will be helpful if part or all of the problem is that you used a lube with a pH much lower than your own.

Yogurt Everywhere – but first, the warning: You must use plain, unsweetened, unflavored organic yogurt. Anything else is bad. It would be best if it has live, active cultures. If you think that most of the burning is external then just generously frost your vulva with cold yogurt and lay there in awkward positions in the bathroom while it works some magic. If you think that some of the burning is also interior then get a plastic tampon applicator (unscented, please), toss the tampon, and fill up the applicator with yogurt. You could also use a needle-less syringe or a very clean turkey baster.

A note: While I most often hear about burning vaginas and vulvas, this could happen to the rectum/anus as well I believe. I don’t see why these things wouldn’t work for the butt – just get an enema kit from your pharmacy.

These methods will soothe & cool the inflamed tissue and remove the oils. Now what? Your flesh is still sore and inflamed so you need to keep babying it.

Methods to Soothe Inflamed Genitals

In between rinsing and sitz-ing to make sure you removed the chemical that is burning your vagina or vulva, you need to calm down the inflammation and help yourself heal. Since vaginal burning isn’t limited to sex toys, if you have vaginal burning and it’s not a sex toy or infection, look at your lube. If the pain lasts only while you’re using the lube and for a little while after, it could either be a pH imbalance or a bad ingredient. Read about that here, and get yourself some pH strips to test you AND the lube. Most likely if you’re reacting badly to a crappy lube, there’s no oil involved – unless it’s one of those warming/cooling lubes, then YMMV. If the following methods don’t give you relief, go up and try the yogurt or milk tricks.

Get an old fashioned menstrual pad (not the dry-top-layer kind, the cheap kind) or even just some clean fabric / fabric pads. Soak it in chamomile tea and then refrigerate the whole thing a bit. You want it cold. Let the chamomile tea + the chill of it all calm down the inflammation. Repeat as necessary.

For external use only, a midwife also suggested hydro-cortisone cream if things are really bad.

If you have access to it, a CBD or THC infused coconut oil salve will really help speed up healing. If you’re in Canada look for Cannalife products, especially the salve.

Ice – but please use a barrier like a thin washcloth so that you don’t burn your skin from the ice. I bet anything your local grocery store (where you’re already headed for yogurt, chamomile and pads or tampons) has an ice cube tray like this in their drinks aisle. The long, round slender shape can lay nicely between your labia. It can slip into a condom1 (giving you a little protection from the cold and tied off so that you don’t soak the bed) and then be inserted vaginally (hey, smear it with yogurt for a double-attack – yogurt as lube and soother). Smitten Kitten sells a thing meant just for the genitals but you probably don’t want to wait on the shipping.

You’re probably a bit drier than normal right now so consider moisturizing with organic, unrefined coconut oil (unless you’re allergic). Other natural oils can help, too, like grapeseed. It seems that most people that will react badly to oils around their vulva react to refined oils (like Vaseline). Keep in mind that oils destroy latex and polyisoprene, so if you insist on having sex, use polyurethane condoms.

Wear loose, soft underthings and avoid sex and masturbation until you’re fully healed.

Please let us know in the comments if anything else has worked for you!

This post is brought to you by a blogger roundtable on-the-fly had in the Tantus Blogger Lounge at Woodhull’s Sexual Freedom Summit 2016 (where SheVibe was my sponsor). Many suggestions from the incredibly smart Lorax of Sex, with ideas also from Taylor and Caitlin. I thank you smart folks, and my readers will thank you. As we all tossed around ideas I started frantically entering them into a notes-taking-app on my phone; my phone which kept auto-correcting “douche” to “douchecanoe” and I had to just let that go, knowing I would understand the notes no less in a week or two.

 

  1. you should probably go with the unlubed kind just to be safe
 Posted by at 8:22 pm