Nov 082014

What happens when we cut up silicone sex toysand leave them in a jar, in a hot room over thesummer for a total of 5 months all up in each others business? LET’S FIND OUT!When I continue to see people warning others that their silicone sex toys need to be stored in separate containers, I get a little twitchy. I mean sure, it won’t hurt, but it’s not necessary. We need to reassure people that silicone is 100% safe, not scare them with false facts! Cured silicone is pretty damn stable! So to help me prove my point, months ago I cut up some pure silicone sex toys and put them in a mason jar, just like I’d done with a bunch of TPR/PVC toys. I let this closed jar of toy bits sit in the one room of my two-story house that is not air-conditioned. It got pretty hot up there this summer! Even without the benefit of heat, though, my first jar full of gross sex toys had a reaction. I never had to subject it to heat.  Those toys reacted to each other because the oil-based chemicals that help soften them also kill them – as one toy started to break down, the oils from it would be the catalyst to starting a nearby material to break down and it gathered like a snowball rolling down a bank. Yet I wanted to put the silicone sex toys to harsh conditions, to dissuade anyone from having a doubt.

To clear up confusion: as I mentioned above and will show below, yes, I had to cut up most of these into smaller pieces. I do not own a huge glass jar nor do I have room for one . Cutting the sex toy into pieces doesn’t affect the results (in either jar).

prejar1 prejar2

So how did we get here? Why do some still think that silicone can have the same reaction as TPR/PVC/Jelly? Because just a few short years ago many of the big-name manufacturers were trying to scam us, and would call something silicone that was absolutely not silicone. We still see this here and there, but not nearly to the degree of past years. Screaming O is a big offender, their cheapie disposable (crystal clear, burns like a damn oil lamp) vibrating cock rings are labeled as silicone or some weird creative “silicone elastomer” fake material name. And so, because these toys were falsely labeled as “silicone” and they were in fact a very unstable, gross material…..they had reactions. But pure silicone will not.

To ensure variety, I included three types of Tantus silicone  – a cross-section from an O2 dildo, a portion of firm silicone from the Flex and the Panty Play which is made overseas and is a silky-soft silicone. Oh and part of a Protouch, I’m not sure if that’s the same silicone as the Flex or not. There’s a portion of a very inexpensive CalExotics toy; I don’t remember the name of it, it seems to be discontinued. I did flame test it though, and it passed. Also included is a piece of a Doc Johnson silicone dildo that is very cheap; it too passed the flame test. 

It’s been 5 months….what will we find?


Want some updated photos of the Original Jar of Horrors? There’s been some activity! Gravity? Further decomposing?  Using the markings on the jar I can point out what’s happened. When you view the original photos you can see that the bright blue thing (a masturbation sleeve) once was mostly above the Ball logo.  And there’s a dark purple bit, that used to be partially behind the Ball logo on the lower half.  There also appears to be a lot of liquid but it’s a slow-moving heavy oily liquid. I can’t tell just how much material has settled at the bottom of the jar so I don’t know how much displacement there is with the liquid or if there’s more liquid….or just a changing landscape of melty TPR.

MeltedJarNov14  MeltedJarNov14pt2

 Posted by at 10:29 am
Nov 022014
Amazon Warehouse (image courtesy of

Amazon Warehouse (image courtesy of

Amazon and sex toys. Not quite as troublesome in my world as toxic toys, but nearly so. A lot of people are more comfortable buying their sex toy from than a sex toy retailer, because they feel certain that it will be more discreet – they know that anything “sold by Amazon” will come in an Amazon box and an Amazon mailing address. And most of the time, Amazon is cheaper…and to detriment of the reputable sex toy shops, too.  Many of the higher-end manufacturers put a limit on how low their items can be sold, and Amazon sellers often completely ignore this. Either they are just shady people or…..they’re counterfeit.  In the years I’ve been doing this, I’ve had more people report problems ordering from Amazon than any other sex toy problems combined. I’ve had readers tell me, even as far back as 4 years ago, that they bought a “luxury” vibrator and something went wrong after a month or two. They took their problem to the manufacturer because it has a warranty, and they found out it wasn’t the brand they thought they were buying and the company wouldn’t honor a warranty claim. Rightfully so; it’s not their product. The counterfeit sex toy market is bigger than you think and it’s found a nice home at Amazon (and Ebay).

So Which Brands Are Suspect?

While this is by NO means a complete list, and I’d be suspect of just about anything, the specific brands I’ve heard of are: Lelo, Fun Factory, We-VibeFleshlights, Tenga, Fairy Wands by Merci Toys, Magic Wand.  Njoy is probably the most copied brand I know of. Multiple times a month I am contacted by shady companies in Hong Kong, Pakistan and India, who specialize in metal sex toys. They often go so far as to use Njoy product photos. The prices are super low, and there’s no way it could be an Njoy product, much less made of medical grade stainless steel, for that low price (in the ballpark of 15% of the cost of an Njoy).  One shady seller on Amazon was including free Fun Factory Smartballs that were counterfeits….and not even made of silicone as was found out from a flame test. Other products that I would be wary of: low-priced metal toys that claim to be stainless steel. I’ve heard some really bad things about a crystal-ended metal plug that is selling for around $20.  I might even go so far as to be suspicious of glass toys sold on Amazon, too. A cheaper manufacturer could potentially use unsafe pigments containing heavy metals to color the glass but I need to do more research on this. Further issues abound with BDSM items (which are outside my realm of expertise) as well as specialty items like chastity cages:

 Another brand that can be suspect is Tantus. It was officially noted to affiliates “in regards to Amazon & Ebay, we don’t sell directly to anyone that has an Amazon/Ebay store. Tantus does NOT guarantee the origin, product quality, or authenticity of ‘Tantus’ items purchased off of these sites.”

Could They Re-Sell a Used Sex Toy?

This part is just a theory but there’s another issue with third-party sellers that isn’t brought up much in discussions about Amazon – the returned sex toys. I’ve always felt pretty confident that there’s little to worry about when the major retailers who allow returns of sex toys (despite a few dramatic claims at the height of other issues with EF). Lovehoney and EdenFantasys both allow it. While Lovehoney is certainly bigger and more global, EdenFantasys used to hold its own quite well as a go-to retailer in its day. Logistically speaking, why would they risk their reputation and company on re-selling a returned (used or defective) sex toy? All it would take would be for one person to report it to the authorities and the doors would be shut. But with an Amazon third-party seller who doesn’t use Fulfillment By Amazon, a person could send back a toy and an unscrupulous seller could re-sell it. I’ve seen third-party sellers who do accept returns if it is “unused and unopened” but unless it’s been shrink-wrapped it’s not that hard to carefully open a box and make it look like it was never opened. On Twitter after this post was first published, this was said and very relevant:

The Amazon Shuffle – The New Shell Game?

Are all sex toys sold via Amazon possibly a counterfeit? Of course not. But the risk for getting one is high enough that I don’t feel that people should take the gamble. Many people have no idea that they even got a counterfeit some of the time, especially until it breaks.  Many think it’s okay to buy the item if it is listed as being “Sold by Amazon LLC”.  Here’s how it works: In the Amazon Warehouses, to save space, every We-Vibe Tango (as an example) goes into the same warehouse bin. Every seller who is storing their goods at Amazon for Amazon to ship has to give their item a UPC or Item Code or something. Everything with the same item code all goes in the same bin. They don’t have room to store every seller’s We-Vibe Tango in a different space. So now, whenever you buy a We-Vibe Tango someone at Amazon is grabbing from the communal bin. Since Amazon has many warehouses across the country, they’ll also ship your item from the warehouse closest to you that stocks the item. This means it’s not necessarily going to be the stock of the retailer you chose to buy from and there’s no control over that, either. You could be ordering from a reputable retailer on Amazon and still get the stock from a shady retailer.  The ONLY way you’re not taking a risk is if the item is being sold by AND shipped by a reputable retailer or manufacturer – of which there are very few on Amazon. And then, because it’s coming from the retailer/manufacturer and not Amazon, there goes all your assumed discretion in shipping and the possibility of “Prime” shipping. So what’s the point?

Is it Just Amazon?

No. While other sites don’t work the same way, there’s still a huge huge risk of the game ending badly if you buy from Ebay. If you find discount sites that look too good to be true….they probably are. is one such site. 

Stay Safe, Ask a Sex Blogger

So what would you rather do? Save ten or twenty bucks and take a big gamble on Amazon or deal with a sex toy retailer that is vetted by your hardworking sex toy review bloggers, and is a company that actually cares about you? By buying from the companies we bloggers work with, you’re supporting the Good Guys in the industry. By using us bloggers as a sounding board before you spend your money, you could actually save money by listening to our advice in our reviews. I advise many people one-on-one on their purchase before they buy (email, Tumblr or Reddit). I’ve had too many people come to me AFTER their purchase, saying that they wished they’d seen my review before wasting their money and there went $100+ down the drain. Read all the reviews, email your favorite bloggers. Ask their opinion. And then, when you’ve decided, wait a little bit. Keep an eye on the sales. Tantus, for example, has a different sale every month. SheVibe has different sales every week. And don’t just take the word of one blogger. 

BOTTOM LINE: I’m such a huge advocate of safe, non-porous sex toys; I want every aspect of your sex toy buying and using experience to be as safe as possible. I can’t promise your safety if you buy from Amazon and Ebay.


Where to Shop

If you’ve been here before, you probably know my most highly-recommended store is SheVibe.  My reasons are many and varied, but here’s the highlights: their stock is neither too specialized or too excessive. They don’t stock known-toxic toys. They educate their customers on the porous toys. The company is run by people who love what they do and who treat everyone – customers to industry people – with kindness and respect. Their prices are great, and they have many sales. I don’t often recommend buying directly from a manufacturer, but there are two that I’ll break that rule for. Tantus is great, and every month has a really great sale (no sale you like? Coupon code LILLY gets you 15% off). Between their closeout section and grab bag section, you’re bound to find a safe, silicone dildo to fit your budget. And their customer service is great. Problem with your order? They’ll take care of it. Currently their shipping is a bit high though and can be a deterrent for small orders – although they do offer free shipping in the US if you spend $100.  Crystal Delights is another wonderful manufacturer. Other retailers I can recommend:

Early to Bed is a Chicago-based shop with an online presence. They have a great selection of items for trans and genderqueer people; however they have a habit re-naming the sex toys they carry. This makes it hard to locate a particular sex toy if you know it by brand and style name.

Goodvibes is a long-time shop with an online presence as well as a few brick stores in the US. They don’t carry anything toxic, but do carry some porous items. Their overall catalog tends to be slim and I have numerous favorites that they don’t carry. They also sometimes re-name toy, but more often I’ll find them stripping the manufacturer’s name from the lower-end stuff – since I try to avoid recommending certain brands, I’m not a fan of this practice. Their prices are not as good as SheVibe. They do have a decent on-demand porn store, though.

Come As You Are is a nice little Toronto-based cooperative shop with an online presence. They’re one of the few better stores that do carry a few toxic items – in fact the first few things that come up in their dildo section seem to have phthalates. However, they’re one of the few places that carry a silicone vaginal dilator set with the dilator sizes ranging from 1/2″ wide to 1 1/2″ wide and you can buy the sizes separately. Their prices seem to be good and they also have a great selection of items for trans and genderqueer people. They do have educational material on the site, but continue to (as most places do) insist that condoms will absolutely protect against phthalates (it’s not actually been proven true, nor has it been proven false).

I’ve never experienced them personally, but a number of Canadian friends spoke well of the shipping, prices and customer service at Lovedreamer. They seem to carry a fair amount of crap, but also have a good amount of sales going. Do your research before picking something out.

Lovehoney has bases in the US, UK, Australia. On the plus side, they have a 365-day return policy if you hate it. On the other hand, they carry a large amount of porous stuff without educating consumers about it and their prices are not as good as SheVibe. Stick to silicone (if in doubt, ask) and the other safe materials. Even if they call it “body safe”, if it’s not a non-porous, I’d avoid it.

Other places that are fine, I just don’t work with them: Babeland is best if you are at a brick store. Online their selection is kinda meh. The ToolShed, SheBop and Smitten Kitten are great places, instore and even online. UK shoppers can also check out ThatPosition or Vibrator Kingdom. Canadians, check out Pinkcherry. Australians, I’ve heard MissX and AdultSpice are good.

 Posted by at 12:32 pm
Sep 102014

VixskinRaquel2Like the rabbit vibrator, suction cup dildos are (for me) a great idea in theory but terrible in execution. I’m no spring chicken anymore and I have the knees of a person twice my age. I can’t deny though that plenty of people love these things. One reason why I have trouble with suction cup dildos is the lack of a compatible surface. The surface has to be completely flat and perfectly smooth, no imperfections that would break the suction seal. Bathroom tiles can sometimes work, but they need to be at least 1/2″ bigger than the base on each side to have a chance at working. Mirrors and windows work, of course. Painted walls though, normally do not. Before you get it in your head that the suction cup is for you, make sure you have a surface that’ll work with it. I see a lot of people buying the porous / possibly-toxic versions way, way too often so I’m providing a list of all known safe versions. There’s a surprisingly larger selection than I expected!

Early2Bed carries a few that I’m not yet seeing in many places. Max, Fairy, and Astral. Max is realistic-looking but small while Fairy and Astral (Maia brand) are completely non-realistic. It looks like SheVibe is now carrying a bit of the Maia brand, and using the manufacturer’s naming they carry the Maia Porpora D1 in hot pink and purple and the D3 (lightly ribbed) in Blue or Purple.  For a moderately sized (7″x 1.6″ for the D1, 1.75″ for the D3) silicone dildo, the price ($30) is quite decent. I want to note that the only products I recommend from Maia at this time are these dildos. They have a core that is another, non-silicone material (presumably to lower production costs) which you should never see and should not at all affect the safety of the silicone material on the outside (and it is silicone, and quite thick at that).

Blush, who makes a lot of crappy vibes and realistic cocks now has a dual-density pure silicone line out that is vaguely realistic. Every model in their Real Nude line at Shevibe has a suction cup. Prices range from $56 to $85 so they’re priced lower than Vixen Vixskin, but right on par with the prices at SheVibe on Tantus O2 dildos – the difference being of course that the Real Nude line has the suction-cup base and the Tantus O2 line does not. The Real Nudes don’t come in non-representational colors and there are only two representational color choices at that … “almond” and “toffee”. Meh. The silicone is very shiny and attracts lint like crazy; I’ve been told that the squishy portion (all of the head and a layer along the shaft) is softer like Vixskin, but the core is very firm, like Tantus. However, photos have shown the Sumo (supposedly 2″ diameter) easily able to bend in half. I know that my larger Tantus O2 dildo can’t do that.

 Of course with Tantus, there’s the silicone suction cup attachment, which works with their vibrating dildos.

Fun Factory, usually known for the vibrators, have a few dildos. Amor, maybe the Boss (unconfirmed), Bandito and Tiger all claim to have suction-cup bases. The Amor and Boss are subtly realistic while the Bandito and Tiger are not at all plus are heavily textured.

Happy Valley vibrating dildos (Perk, Hottie and Little Hottie) might work with the Tantus suction cup attachment. When I contacted them, they responded with:

All of our dildos are designed with ergonomics and harness compatibility in mind. As the bases are shaped to conform to the natural curves of the body, this does not readily lend itself to suction cup styles. Whilst the Tantus attachment would definitely fit into the vibe hole for both Fuze and Happy Valley toys, I doubt that it would either be comfortable or function to its full potential, due to the different design criteria of ourselves and Tantus.

Pipedream Fetish Fantasy Elite line has a number of silicone dildos & silicone vibrating dildos with suction cup bases but you know they’re not a company I trust. The price is pretty low for the dildos but I’m just in general unconvinced of their overall quality. I’ve not flame-tested anything from them; until I can get my hands on one to flame test and dissect, I’m reluctant to really recommend them but there they are. There’s such a big line that I can’t really ignore them, and they do offer the vibrating aspect which isn’t common for this list.  I’ve never received any reports that they are not silicone, but they are “hollow” with a foam core. The silicone covering the foam core is thick and I can’t see it really becoming a problem.  Silicone is strong and I can’t see it ripping or anything. But, it is false advertising on Pipedream’s part, reporting these as “100%” medical grade silicone. I don’t believe it to be medical grade; why would they cut costs by adding the foam core and then use a more expensive grade of silicone? It’s probably food-grade which is no less pure or safe. Regardless, that’s a bit of false advertising that is slimy, but not surprising to me given Pipedream’s basic reputation. Pipedream isn’t a company I can see supporting at all, but the choice is yours so I’ll list the option.

 The Colours line, from NS Novelties, has 2 sizes of suction cup dildos in 2 colors.  The overall styling is realistic, but the colors aren’t (charcoal black and hot pink).

Doc Johnson’s Vac-u-Lock line was always baffling to me – they require a special harness (none of which look all that awesome to me) and they were all always porous/toxic materials. But in recent years Doc Johnson came out with some silicone vac-u-lock options. These can be used by themselves as a dildo, but I noticed that Shevibe carries a Vac-u-lock suction cup accessory, directly copying Tantus. Since I’ve never owned a vac-u-lock toy I don’t know if the Tantus accessory could be used here instead, but the DJ version is only $10.  This means you can get a realistic, suction-cup silicone dildo for right around $50.

Vixen dildos sometimes have a naturally occurring suction cup base. I contacted Vixen to get the complete current line-up:

Vixskin: Tex, Raquel, Randy, Maverick (rumors have it that the Mustangs can be suction-cuppy, but Vixen didn’t list it)

Original Formula: All with the exception of vibe versions, or anything with testicles (Johnny). i.e. All of the Realistic Bents, Randy, Leo, Mistress, and Woody.

 Available only from Lovehoney (US): LH-branded has a 7″ purple smooth dildo and a 5″ slender black smooth dildo. There’s a realistic one from Adrien Lastic (?) and they carry only one Malesation dildo but the Malesation dildo they carry is a direct knock-off of Maia and the two companies are not related. If you value company ethics, I’d avoid Malesation. But if the Maia Wavy D1 looked fun but you hated the pink and purple, pick up the Malesation Wavy in black.

BUTT TOYS! Not to be left out, there are a few silicone butt plugs with a suction cup base: Cocolicious from CalEx (might have a foam or bead core, like Pipedream); Colt brand Jumbo (over 2″!) plug, and Marc Dorcel’s Ultimate Plug which also vibrates (but not much).



 Posted by at 11:49 am
Aug 272014

Silagel or Sil-a-gel, no matter how you spell it, should be pronounced as “avoid”. It’s a confusing matter in the sex toy industry, because we apparently cling really hard to our myths. At some point, some retailer assumed that the “sil” in sil-a-gel stood for “silicone”. Not surprisingly, most toys containing sil-a-gel do look “gel-like”. This grand misconception might even be where the “silicone blend” bullshit came from; or vice versa. But I don’t feel like playing the “which sex toy myth was spread around first” game today. I get asked about Sil-a-Gel often enough that I’m writing here about it. 

Sil-a-gel is strictly a Doc Johnson creation, so far as I can tell.  From their site:

Q: What is Sil-A-Gel?

A: Sil-A-Gel is an anti-bacterial compound that we add to all of our Made-in-USA products. It is not a coating or a separate material. It is added into our material in the raw mixing phase so that the anti-bacterial agents are actually engrained into the product and will not wash away with use. Sil-A-Gel helps stop the spread of unwanted and potentially bad bacteria forming on your favorite products. Although you should always wash your products with mild soap and water, Sil-A-Gel is our way of going the extra mile to make sure that your products are as safe and clean as they can be.


Dildology had the James Deen realistic dildo sent to the same labs that used to deformulate the dildo. It gets run through the same machines you hear about on crime scene type shows. Their results actually found that the dildo contained 61% phthalates – meaning 61% of the whole item’s make-up was phthalates ….. the thing they claim it’s free of. The rest was simply PVC. There was nothing else in there that the machine could detect. Now, this is only one lab test. I am reluctant to fully condemn Doc Johnson for lying until we see another lab test run, but I don’t see that happening anytime soon. These tests need to be funded, they cost something like $400 a pop, I think. 

Sil-a-gel is an Additive, NOT a Material

Despite what you may have heard or seen at other retailers who haven’t kept up with the toxic toy times, sil-a-gel is not a material. This bears repeating. However, any material that sil-a-gel is added to is still very porous and potentially toxic. Oh, I know, all these SilaGel added dildos claim to be phthalates-free. But you know they can lie as there are no regulations for sex toys, right? Right. And Doc Johnson only claims that it will act as an anti-bacterial agent. What about fungi like mold and mildew? All of these can live in the pores of these low-quality sex toys. Until I see unbiased lab tests that prove that Sil-a-gel is present AND WORKS, I won’t believe in it. You know what anti-microbial additive does work? Silver. Tenga is starting to use it. 

But are Sil-a-Gel Treated Items Non-Toxic?

While Doc Johnson will continue to say that they don’t use pthalates in their facility, phthalates aren’t the only toxic chemical we need to worry about. And many people still have a bad reaction to these “phthalates-free” sil-a-gel sex toys; the same reactions that are reported from known-toxic sex toys – rashes and skin burns, mainly. And that’s just what we can see/feel. Most people report that these sex toys stink, which means VOCs are present. 

A reminder, folks: True silicone is considered to be effectively non-porous, able to be sanitized, and is chemically inert – meaning it won’t break down. The materials that need to be softened with chemicals and/or mineral oil – jelly, rubber, PVC, vinyl, TPR/TPE, elastomer, cyberskin, etc etc – are all chemically unstable and will begin to break down over time. And the old line of “put a condom on it” shouldn’t be supported, either. There have been user reports of skin irritation continuing AFTER they put the condom on the dildo. And, by logical deduction, if a sex toy is softened with mineral oil and there’s any amount of oil seeping from the pores, it could break down your average latex condom, providing you with a barrier that’s as effective as Swiss cheese. 

TL;DR – Treat it like every other toxic sex toy. Throw it out and buy safe materials from reputable manufacturers and retailers. 


 The opinions expressed in this post are my own, gleaned from information I’ve gathered through my own research and speaking with other sex toy users. Until more tests are run, information on what, or how effective, sil-a-gel is or is not is merely supposition and not fact. However, when sex toy materials that are proven as completely safe exist, why risk it? 


 Posted by at 4:03 pm
Aug 122014

“TPR-Silicone”? Silicone blends? NOPE. Not possible.

For quite some time, we used to believe that there was some bizarre “10% rule” where a manufacturer only had to create a sex toy that contained 10% silicone in order to actually call it silicone for marketing. When I learned that there are no regulations, I learned that the “rule” was a myth and companies could be lying about the material. They could use any material, and claim it to be any material. There is nothing stopping them from out and out lying. And then the lies get spread further because the retailers usually have no option but to parrot the information given to them by the manufacturer.

When I first started reviewing in 2008, we (the consumers) thought that silicone blends and “TPR Silicone” was a thing. The manufacturers called it that, the retailers (of course) called it that. In fact, many retailers still do! A google search of that term shows that it’s still being used on many sites. I don’t know, can’t know, which retailer was the first to explain the various materials – Edenfantasys, for all its downfalls, did a service in providing their material safety rating scale which helped educate a number of people about jelly, cyberskin, etc. The material safety was ranked on a scale from 1 to 10. In order to give credit where credit is due, the material safety scale was created by Shanna Katz and someone who went by “Delilah Douglas” on EF.  Sadly though, they still list TPR Silicone as a material. Many new sites model after their material list, and the myth/misinformation perpetuates. Given the drastic decline of Edenfantasys, I highly doubt that there’s anyone there who would care enough to change their information.

How to Tell TPR from Silicone

Ever since I started burning sex toys, I’ve noticed certain traits. For one, jelly and TPR can be completely clear, crystal clear, but silicone can not be. Silicone can be clear, but it is a somewhat “cloudy” clear. TPR and jelly has also a certain feel that you’ll never get from silicone, and an elasticity you’ll not get from silicone. So if something is crystal clear and can stretch to fit around your ankle? That cock ring is not silicone.


Most often, when I find a sex toy still being advertised as “TPR Silicone” on a retail site, a look at the manufacturer’s site shows that they’re merely calling it TPR. It’s hard to say who is to blame for the inaccurate listings…..did the manufacturer wise up and the retail store hasn’t made changes to the listing? Or is the retail store trying to fool you? Information changes, so what we used to believe as fact is no longer, and when this old, incorrect information still persists, the myths persist.  Sites like this are not out to purposely misinform, but I hope that the information given will be changed as more is learned about these materials and the truth. Information changes, so what we used to believe as fact is no longer, and when this old, incorrect information still persists, the myths persist. 

The Confirmation – TPR Cannot be Blended

I have a few industry friends I can turn to for further investigation when I get one of my hunches, and this was no exception. I can’t name names nor say anything about my “informant” but they work with materials and and have worked for a few large sex toy manufacturing companies. They confirmed for me that it is not possible to blend TPR/TPE with silicone. They’re different materials, and simply cannot be “blended” to create one material type.  They said that one could, technically, layer the TPR and silicone, so that the silicone layer is what is seen by the consumer, but it’s a stretch and it’s very expensive to do so – therefore that negates the whole reason for it. This person reiterated what I’ve suspected, which is that “a lot came from [earlier in the industry] when silicone started to become popular and some were trying to pass it off by saying TPR/TPE silicone”.

Once Again I Lash Out at Screaming O for their “SEBS Silicone” Claims

I decided to dig deeper because of the material naming discrepancies that I still sometimes see; one culprit as mentioned above is Screaming O. I’ve burned their cock rings that they claim are made of a “material” called SEBS, which they claim stands for “silicone elastomer blend”. Not only can you not even blend silicone with a thermoplastic elastomer, but everywhere else in the chemistry world, SEBS stands for styrene-ethylene/butylene-styrene.  The Screaming O cock rings are extremely stretchy and soft. They’re probably over 80% plasticizers (likely mineral oil). When lit, they burn like Indiana Jones’ torch – hot, bright and resistant to extinguishing from a gust of air. The Screaming O rings were the only thing I’ve burned that I couldn’t extinguish by blowing out, I had to toss them under running water. Silicone doesn’t behave like that. And of course, after being burned, the Screaming O rings left no ash — the hallmark of silicone — just a look of melted plastic.  I can’t tell if the material Screaming O is using truly is this SEBS stuff or if they’re just using that acronym as a made-up term for their made-up material. I’d have to raise funds to get a ring sent to the lab like I did with the Hello Touch to find out for sure. I’m skeptical of their material, though, highly skeptical. Styrene is a chemical that many are side-eyeing pretty hard, and aren’t sure how toxic it could be.  If we’re gonna continue to get all technical and science-y, Screaming O (and other sex toy companies too, like Vibratex) use the term “Elastomer” as a material name, when it’s actually a material type. I’d be willing to bet that when most companies are describing their item as being made of Elastomer, it’s really TPE – thermoplastic elastomer. Wikipedia says it’s “also called” thermoplastic rubber (TPR) so I am not yet sure if there is a chemical difference between TPR and TPE, if they’re the same thing, etc. There are different types of TPEs, but I don’t know if all of those types could be used in the sex toy application. We’ve seen these mystery materials come in a variety of shore strengths, too. The softer they are, the more porous they are, and the more likely they are to break down. There’s a big different in how the TPR like these items behaves vs the TPR of say the Eroscillator. I’ve yet to hear that someone’s Eroscillator attachment melted or started to break down, or got “greasy”. Those attachments have much less softening content, though, too. I’ve tried to contact Eroscillator about the material, but they won’t respond.

The term TPR Silicone is very misleading and very incorrect; people hear “silicone” and think that it’s safe, and non-porous. I’d like to see retailers eradicate the language, and I can only hope that when they’re contacted, they will change the terminology.  If you see a site selling items listed as “TPR Silicone”, please consider contacting them to change the wording.


Disclaimer: I am explaining things in the best way I know how. I’m dealing here in many “facts” that I can’t promise are all 100% accurate – we lack the ability to be super scientific about this. I don’t have a chemist by my side, I don’t have a lab. I’m sharing with you what I think, what I’ve been told, what I am inferring from my own test results thus far, and what my reason and logic is filling in. The information here may change as we learn more–this post is evidence that as the years go by in the sex toy industry, things are changing and past truths are becoming myths.


Jul 112014

This got to be a little more complicated than just 5 simple things, but more knowledge is good…right?? Right. I’ve also asked some veterans to weigh in. Epiphora made this great post for sex toy reviewers but I wanted to see if we could narrow it down and make it less about being a newbie and more about “continuing education”. So Tip #4 comes to you from Piph! I want to be clear and say that a lot of these things don’t apply to your average blogger who is just blogging to have an outlet, a writing voice, etc. That type of blogging is no less valid; you’re in it for you and nobody else and that’s awesome. But if you want to be a reviewer and be given things to review from companies, then you need to treat it like a job in some ways. 

1. Know about sex toy material safety and proper care and cleaning. Familiarize yourself with truth vs myth. We’ve dispelled a lot of myths in recent years – like we know now that pure silicone sex toys can be all up in each other’s business with no ill effects. There shall be no melting, no deformities. We once thought this to be true because so many companies tried to pass TPR off as silicone. It’s not, nor is there such a thing as a TPR “blended” with silicone. I, at this very moment, have a drawer full of silicone dildos. I have an over-the-door shoe rack and I have multiple sex toys shoved in each pocket. Nothing bad has happened. Yet I still see people cautioning that you must store each sex toy in its own bag and don’t let them touch. I also still see a lot of people singing the praises of how good a certain dildo feels, despite the fact that it stinks, but hey it feels so good that I’m gonna overlook that little issue with the smell. That’s fine if you want to risk your health and welfare, but at least educate your readers about porosity, toxic toys, and safe sharing at a minimum.

2. Understand what your audience actually needs from a sex toy review. Spend fewer words describing how the toy functions in  extreme detail and fewer words describing the packaging in detail. This isn’t to say you can or should avoid this info all the time, but it’s less important. I’m a reviewer but I’m also a buyer. When I am reading your sex toy reviews, I am going to go straight for the “what does it feel like” section. I want to know if it’s rumbly or buzzy and how powerful it is and what you would compare it to – comparisons often help me decide. If you say it’s slightly less powerful than the Lelo Gigi, that’s a big tell for me. Of course, how you feel about specific toys overall helps me, too. If you feel that the Lelo Gigi is ultra-powerful and rumbly, then your reviews aren’t going to work for me. I’m not saying that your perception of vibration intensity is wrong….I’m saying it doesn’t match my perception. For some people, most vibrators are intensely powerful. For other people (like mahself) there’s a small list of vibrators that are powerful enough / the right kind of powerful. And please…..don’t be afraid to talk about your body. Someone with an exposed clitoris and minimal labia, who is also thin, will have vastly different opinions on some vibrators than I do. There are simply some designs that do not work on vulvas like mine – fleshy outer labia with a very recessed clit.

3.  Write reviews to benefit your readersnot your affiliate account, not the company you’re reviewing for. Your reviews should be for your readers, to help them determine if the sex toy will work for them, and that goes beyond vibrations or girth.  Being overly positive, refusing to write a negative review, trying to find silver linings on shitty toys, proclaiming a weak toy as being “great for beginners“, not discussing serious flaws in design or use…..these all do a great disservice to your audience. They need to trust you and your opinion and THEN they will buy from your links. Worried about not making money from a negative review? Recommend something else similar that you feel is better. IF the flaws aren’t great but the design just didn’t work for you, then try to think of who it WOULD work for.  And, equally as important, don’t censor your reviews just to appease a company. There are many retailers and even manufacturers out there who want good reviewers and a quality, honest company realizes that negative reviews are worthy and a fact of life. Companies that listen to negative reviews and use them to make their products better are few and far between, but they do exist. If I have a company tell me that I need to be more upbeat, more sunshine-y, then we’re not a good fit. If you want me to have a “classy review” devoid of discussing the vibrator’s ability (or not) to make me come? You’re in the wrong place. You’re also What’s Wrong With This Industry.

4. “There is no formula. Your life as a blogger will be a lot less stressful if you banish almost every notion about what a sex toy review blog should be (except, you know, the part about good content). Taking inspiration from other bloggers is fine, but if you spend all your time modelling yourself after them, you’ll never discover what makes you unique, happy, and ultimately, reputable. If I had to put every toy in each of my orifices and then write a 2,000-word screed about it, I would have burned out long ago. But some people are really good at that! I just let them be good at that while I do my own thing.” ~ Epiphora –

5. Be Professional. This covers everything from your blog to social media. On your blog, your writing is often all that people see. Your writing should be a reflection of you and it should dress to impress. This means clean up the typos, run spell-check and have a basic knowledge of grammar. Their/they’re/there and that sort of thing. If you don’t care enough to do just that amount, then why should I trust your reviews?

The other side of professionalism is knowing how to present yourself on social media. If you want to work with companies, if you want to have advertisers and if you care about making a side income then you need to care about what you say and how you act on social media. Tone down your ego and sense of entitlement – be grateful for every “yes” and humble and respectful of every “no”. You’re not the only game on the block. Therefore, don’t take every rejection so personally. It might be personal but it is more often a decision based on numbers and metrics and their own quotas. Respect that.  I’m sure you’ve heard this job interview tip: “Don’t bash your former boss”. Apply that to this situation as well. There are some grievances and opinions that absolutely need to public knowledge….but not everything. When a company sees you publicly bashing the fact that another company turned you down, they’ll be reluctant to work with you for fear you’ll turn on them publicly as well.


I’m merely a fellow reviewer, so I wondered what the advice would look like coming from a company. I asked my favorite “boss”, Sandra of SheVibe, to give me her top 5 tips for reviewers:

In my time with SheVibe I have watched so many sex bloggers blossom, it’s been awesome.  When we first launched the site, we didn’t have a review program. We kind of watched was going on from the sidelines, made sure we understood the nuances – the culture so to speak.  When we felt like we had something to offer we entered the arena, always treating it as a reciprocal relationship where both parties learn and grow.  My advice to newcomers and veterans alike is this:

  1. Know who you’re reaching out to.  You better believe I’m going to know who you are before I agree to you reviewing for us. I check to see what the overall attitude is.  I understand the need to share parts of one’s personal life – it’s important to inject pieces of yourself to connect with your readers, but there’s a fine balance to keep in check.  If you’re constantly airing your dirty laundry, that is a red flag for me.  I will also check old posts to see how or if you’ve grown.  I look at social media also – this is often where people show excessive combativeness or a tendency to “overshare”.  Again, I understand that this might be considered personal space, but if you are treating your blog as a business, then you may want to consider a separate persona for your personal needs.
  2. Presentation is everything, from the initial email you send me to how your website is designed.  If you don’t present well, it is going to be hard for you to build a readership and readers are $$ in the eyes of the retailer. In other words – spelling and grammar matter! Clean up your typos! Check your attitude from ego to temper.
  3. Have a well-rounded world view and don’t try to serve too many masters. By this I mean, have the presence of mind to know that just because something doesn’t work for your body type or is outside of your taste preference doesn’t mean that everyone will have the same experience.  This is a mistake I see a lot of newcomers make and kind of ties in to #4.  By serving too many masters means that if you are reviewing for several companies, it’s likely that none of them are getting your best work.  It also smacks of someone just trying to get as much “free stuff” as possible.  I find that the most successful bloggers tend to connect with a handful of companies they like and respect.  There are some bloggers I will do pretty much anything for – they have shown us loyalty and support and I will absolutely reciprocate.  You can’t develop that kind of relationship if you’re all over the place.
  4. If you are going to speak in absolutes, you should absolutely know what you are talking about. I have come across some instances where a reviewer will say something along the lines of, “trust me, you will hate this….”.  I still see a lot of mis-information about lubricants and materials.  Or I’ll see off base comments about how something is manufactured.  There’s a lot of misconception and lack of understanding.  Very few bloggers really take the time to understand this business soup to nuts.  I get it, it’s a lot to know.  But you can’t speak about things you know nothing about or don’t understand and I would much prefer you ask rather than take the opportunity to leave bad intel in your review just because you liked the way the sentence played out.
  5. If we aren’t able to accept you into our program now, it’s not personal.  Work harder, get better, build your audience, love what you do.  You are scrapping for readership in an ever changing, tough industry. If you are passionate, trust me, it will pay off.


 Posted by at 1:30 pm