Sep 102014
 

Suction Cup DildosLike 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! As of my most recent January 2016 update, I’ve counted literally 101 silicone suction dildos (and plugs and vibrating dildos). This also doesn’t begin to take into consideration the smaller, fantasy dildo makers like Bad Dragon etc. I haven’t included any of those because I don’t own any, don’t review them, haven’t really seen them much in person.

Suction Cup Dildos Under $50

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). I’ve also been told that the Maia silicone is very firm and has texture to it, making it a bit of a lube hog. Also at Early to Bed is this Rippler Love Rider dildo.

New-ish from CalExotics is their Packer Gear line. I don’t know anything about it other than the fact that it’s silicone. I don’t know if there’s another material at the core, but the prices are great. These are apparently, from the product line info, meant for packing. They’re flexible! They’re also all under $35. ETA: I have received one to check out and the silicone feels nice and smooth, without any grabby texture to it. The silicone is relatively firm but it still has bend. I don’t see how one would pack with this, but whatever. It’s still a very nice dildo.

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.

Blush, who makes a lot of crappy vibes and realistic cocks (and is in general not a company I fully support right now) has a dual-density pure silicone line out that is vaguely realistic. Every model (except for the ones now with balls as the base) in their Real Nude line at Shevibe has a suction cup. Prices range from $39 to $56 so they’re priced lower than Vixen Vixskin and Tantus. The Real Nudes seem to come in some non-realistic colors now but I’m waiting on retailers I work with to pick them up, otherwise there are limited realistic skin tone choices. The silicone on the older models 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. Early To Bed carries a red version of one of the designs! Also from Blush the new Luxe Mio is short and very fat, 1.8″ and reasonably priced. The new Nude Impressions line are under-$60 suction-cup vibrators in 4 non-realistic colors – half of them are priced at $49.

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.

 The Colours line, from NS Novelties, has a variety of sizes of suction cup dildos in a bunch of colors.  The overall styling is realistic, but the most of the colors aren’t (there are pale skin tones but also pink, blue, purple, etc).  Sizes range from 1.5″ wide to 2.1″ wide, and only the 8″x2.1″ is priced over $50. I’ve been told that this brand is very firm and combining that with the veiny texture has been uncomfortable for some people especially when used anally.

 Available only from Lovehoney: 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. There’s now two vibrating, realistic silicone suction cup vibrating dildos at Lovehoney, and one of them is under $50. At $69 this one has a remote!

You can find all of these at Lovehoney UK also.

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).

High-quality Dildos from Reputable Companies

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. New to the line-up is the Bouncer, also with a suction-cup base.

Smitten Kitten carries CJ Hooker, a somewhat realistically-styled dildo from Hole Punch that comes in vivid color blends.  It’s got an interesting taper to it, but is 1.75″ at the widest.

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.

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.

Filed under “but how would that even stay on the wall” is the ginormous Tom of Finland Kake Cock. Tom of Finland also makes a few sizes of a standard butt plug with a suction cup base.

 

 

 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: http://www.docjohnson.com/ask-the-doc

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.

Testing

Dildology had the James Deen realistic dildo sent to the same labs that BadVibes.org 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.

ScreamingO

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 – HeyEpiphora.com

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
Jun 102014
 

Often, people complain that water-based lubes don’t last long enough. They dry up fast or get sticky or just aren’t cutting it for anal lube. Silicone lube solves all of those problems, but not all silicone lube is perfectly compatible with all silicone sex toys.  Plus, silicone lube is not at all natural, whereas coconut oil is. While coconut oil is not the perfect solution for all people, I think it’s pretty great and needs to be considered.

Coconut Oil and Condoms

Coconut oil also doesn’t seem to be compatible with latex condoms. Oil lubes in general are a no-no to mix with latex condoms. I’ve read casual at-home studies from fellow sex geeks that showed that other oils degraded a latex condom very quickly, while the coconut oil took longer to do so but it still did weaken the latex. Coconut oil will also degrade polyisoprene condoms. If you want to use it, then you need to stick with polyurethane condoms – Trojan Supra is so far the only one I can find on US sites. The internal/”female” condom FC2 is made of nitrile which is compatible with coconut oil. This also means that nitrile gloves are compatible with coconut oil.

The Benefits of Coconut Oil as Lube

Coconut oil has unique properties that could be a benefit for use as a sexual lubricant: anti-fungal, anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory and excellent at moisturizing. It’s recommended for treating / preventing yeast infections — those who get yeast infections easily should absolutely consider switching to coconut oil. It’s often recommended for vaginal dryness, too. I’ve used it successfully for vaginal lubrication and have never experienced any issues with pores clogging, etc.

It works well as an anal lubricant, too. The delicate tissue of the anus can be susceptible to tiny micro-tears if you try to go too quickly to a large item, and/or there isn’t enough lube but if the skin is well-moisturized it is more elastic (which was how a nurse explained it to me).  And oil-based lubes can keep things lubricated for a lot longer than water-based lubes. They do absorb into the skin, so reapplication may be needed during anal sex – just keep tabs on the situation (but you should anyways, no matter what type of lube you use).

It’s not just for sex! Coconut oil makes an excellent massage oil. You can easily transition from massaging the body to massaging the genitals to sex all using the same product.  I really like using coconut oil as a massage oil in part because coconut oil is solid at room temperature – but will quickly liquefy on skin as it warms up. Too often in the past I’d end up with oil drips on bedsheets when someone was poring massage oil from the bottle to the body – this doesn’t happen when using coconut oil. Since it’s an oil it still can leave an oil stain on your sheets but it comes out fairly easily in the wash.

Coconut Oil and Sex Toys

Coconut oil is perfect with silicone sex toys, glass, metal, ceramic, etc. It is not compatible with the low grade sex toy materials – the ones I don’t think you should be using anyway: TPR, TPE, jelly, rubber, latex, vinyl, PVC, and so on. These are all porous and some are potentially toxic. Remember: if the material in question in crystal clear, then it is not silicone, no matter what the manufacturer/retailer says.

I’ve actually heard anecdotally that covering a silicone sex toy in coconut oil (make sure some of the oil goes in your butt, too, of course) can prevent the silicone from retaining odors as is common with anal play for most people. Silicone is considered non-porous but it still can retain odors (just try freezing coffee ice cubes in your silicone ice cube tray and you’ll see what I mean….*sigh*), yet a few people have told me that the oil seemed to act as a barrier. These people have been exclusively using coconut oil as their lube of choice with a few butt plugs and so far they aren’t retaining any discernible butt odors.

The Downsides

Many vagina owners might be confused about coconut oil as lube for sex because traditionally we’re told that “oil” and “pores” aren’t friendly. From what I’ve read, it can clog pores on people who are very susceptible to such things. One a scale of one to four with four being “highly comedogenic” coconut oil ranks about a two. Give it a shot as a skin moisturizer on yourself first, to see how you react.

There is also a faint odor…..of coconuts. Most people don’t find it offensive; many people enjoy it. If it does have an offensive odor, consider that it could be rancid.  Rancid coconut oil is yellow in color when it turns to liquid; the solid oil is no longer smooth, it’s lumpy; and it has a bitter taste/smell. The taste and smell of coconut oil should be unoffensive to all but the most sensitive people. In order to prevent contamination of the oil, you shouldn’t scoop it from the main jar with your finger. It would be best to spoon out a little into a smaller container to keep bedside. Otherwise, you’ve got people wondering what a 54-oz vat of coconut oil is doing on your bedside table. Or you’re running naked to the kitchen to scoop from the jar.

Which Coconut Oil to Buy

Coconut Oil jar from Costco! This ends up being something like 30 cents an ounce. Very affordable! You’ll want to look for food-grade oil that is listed as organic and extra-virgin/virgin (which is unrefined). Organic is important, as you don’t want to absorb any pesticides/toxins through your skin from treated coconuts. Unrefined is the best way to go. You will see some brands that offer both types – for cooking it seems that refined is best for frying. Refined coconut oil is also called “RBD” – refined, bleached, deodorized.  YUM RIGHT?

Don’t think that you need to spend a lot on coconut oil. You can get Carrington Farms brand 54oz giant bottle for something like 38 cents an ounce? That’s about half a gallon — more than enough to keep you lubed up for a year AND learn to incorporate it into your cooking and baking for the health benefits. Of course if you don’t want the Costco-sized vat o coconut, this brand ends up being 50 cents an ounce which isn’t bad, especially considering how little you actually need for lube.  The fact alone that there exists a valid “101 uses for coconut oil” article or 10 should assure you that this stuff won’t go to waste unless you’re extremely sensitive to the faint smell of coconut. Buy a small jar first to make sure you love the stuff.

 Posted by at 8:53 am
May 252014
 

sextoysOver at Reddit I’ve been getting a lot of questions along the lines of “I/we want to try out sex toys, but have no idea where to start”. It can be hard sometimes to recommend things for someone’s first sex toy, since not even they really know what they want. And of course, they often are young or just reluctant to spend much money on the whole endeavor, since they have no clue how it’ll work out. Too often, people recommend cheap and *unsafe* sex toys, or cheap and half-ass quality sex toys, for a sex toy newbie. I’ve been there, and that’s mostly what filled my meager toy bag my first two years. It led me to wasting a decent chunk of money, but it also ultimately led to me creating this blog. I try to avoid recommending shoddy toys to the first-timers. So difficult, so very very difficult. They’re cheap for a reason! I do have a complete guide to under-$35 sex toys right here, and there’s now a bonus section for sex toys under $50, but for this topic we’re going to up the budget to $80 because it’s where the better sex toys are. Not that you need to start off pricey but I don’t recommend always going super cheap, especially with vibrators.

Top Three Tips Before You Start

  1. Understand safe sex toy materials. You want to avoid anything porous. Stick with silicone from trusted brands, hard (ABS) plastic, glass, metal and wood.
  2. Discuss it together, first. Go get your partner and look at the items I’m recommending. What you think your partner would like and what they actually would like can be two very different things.
  3. If you’re buying a sex toy for someone with a clitoris who has never orgasmed from penetrative sex, then don’t get an internal vibe. Get an external vibe and a stronger one at that.

Where to shop

Please, don’t go to Amazon. The first place I recommend you shop at if you’re in the US is Shevibe. They have great prices and are a trustworthy company. You’ll get great customer service, too. They’ve been around for awhile and I adore them. For silicone dildos and butt toys, plus some harnesses and paddles, you can also go directly to the manufacturer I adore most – Tantus. They often have great sales. If you’re in Canada Come As You Are is good. Lovedreamer is decent. They have good prices on some things, sometimes have great sales. They stock a whole lot of unsafe stuff, though, so pouring through their stock might be a little daunting. For UK peeps, try Lovehoney. They also stock a good deal of unsafe stuff, but you can find deals and quality toys there too. *Apparently this paragraph is not sufficient for some people. If you want the details on why I recommend these shops, read my long-winded comment below. Also read this post.

Deciding on sex toy size

Base the size of the toy, if it’s meant for insertion, on what has already been inserted into said orifice. Nothing? A finger? Two fingers? A cock? Not all people seeking their first sex toy need something tiny and/or wimpy on vibrations. If you’ve never had anything inserted, ever, you’re going to have to purchase two sizes – the warm-up and then the step-up. I realize it sounds like a waste of money, but you can’t just jump head first into these things. Starting with a warm-up can be key to the whole experience going well.  I have a complete guide to choosing your first dildo that you should check out. For affordable silicone options, always check out the Tantus Grab Bag section. Also, consider the material. A very firm silicone, or other hard material, is going to feel bigger than the same size bio cock. There are a lot of under-$50 dildos listed here, too.

Introducing the clitoris to a vibrator

The first sex toy you use on a clitoris is very dependent on the sensitivity level of that clitoris. Again, not everyone will need a subtle vibrator, but not everyone needs a Hitachi Magic Wand, either. If the clitoris owner in question has difficulty reaching orgasm from fingers and tongues, then you’re looking for something powerful and rumbly. If you think that pinpoint but really strong stimulation is your best bet, you can’t go wrong with the We-Vibe Tango. It’s the most powerful bullet vibe on the market and very rumbly. Another strong option that isn’t quite the level of the Tango (but very very close) is the Jopen Lust L2.5; tiny but powerful it has deep, penetrating rumbling vibrations (it also comes in pink).

For those who can orgasm anywhere from somewhat easily to rarely, to unsure about owning a vibrator I have one that I recommend across the board: Doc Johnson’s Black Magic bullet. It’s affordable, it has vibrations that are more rumbly than buzzy, and with 4 levels it can work for a large variety of people. It’s versatile – can be used solo, together, and on any body part that might like some vibrations (external only, though please – I don’t feel that most corded bullets are meant for vaginal insertion and I wouldn’t trust them for anal insertion).  A cute and tiny option is the OVO T2. It doesn’t pack the punch of the Black Magic Bullet, but it’s small and unobtrusive while still having pretty decent vibrations. The same can be said for the OVO D2. It’s similar in size to the Lelo Mia 2, has pretty decent vibrations and is quiet. The Lelo Mia 2 is more powerful than the OVO D2 and less powerful than the Jopen Lust L2.5.

G-spot for beginners

A number of the dildos in the choosing your first dildo guide are great for g-spot play, but some people are understandably curious about vibration for their first sex toy. There’s a number of better (over $50) options like the L’amourose Prism V or the Je Joue Uma, but to see if you even like vibrations on your g-spot, start out with something more affordable like the Envie, or Picobong’s Zizo or Moka. A newer line called OVO has some very nice battery operated insertables that have a better price point than Picobong. The OVO F8, OVO F4 and OVO F3 are all great choices. The F4 is girthy, probably around 1.75″. The F3 and F8 are pretty slender. The F3 IS listed on the site as being 1.9″ inches wide, but that is only because OVO thinks that they should be measuring at the widest point of the whole vibrator, not just the usable part. So their measurements are sometimes that of the handle, and are really misleading. I’ve seen these in person though and can attest that the F3 and F8 are not girthy. The F3 is about 1.25″ at the widest insertable portion.  One more option is the Evolved Novelties Love Handle. It doesn’t have a ton of power and it’s very thin, but that can be a good thing for some people. It’s made of hard ABS plastic so this would be a good option if you think your g-spot might respond better to pressure – the handle design allows this a little easier than a straight-ish style. For something powerful but not rigid, consider the Roulette Lucky 7.

A Vibrator to use during sex?

Often I hear from couples who want a vibrator that can maybe be used during PIV sex to help achieve clitoral orgasm. I find myself recommending the Fun Factory Layaspot for it’s small size and curve. I’d prefer to recommend the We-Vibe Touch for it’s small size and nice silicone, but that wouldn’t fit in the $80 price limit unless you nab a seriously good sale however the Tango does, barely. Another sort-of decent toy is the Tula 2.0. It’s cheap, it runs on AAA batteries, and it’s got decent vibrations. They’re not rumbly but they’re not seriously surface-buzzy either. With a little effort, it’s even enough to get me off. It can be loud, though. But the “tilted egg on a stick” style is pretty versatile. It can be used for the g-spot, but also it’s great to use during PIV sex because the long handle keeps your hands out of the way of bumping pelvises (pelvi?). Many copies of this style exist, but most have poor vibrations that are surface-buzzy. The We-Vibe 4 was designed to be used during sex, but the fit can be finicky and the vibrations don’t blow your mind. Same can be said for the Lelo Tiani versions. I usually prefer to recommend that you find new ways to work your sex and foreplay around a nice vibrator, rather than expecting your vibrator to blend in seamless with your sex.

I don’t want something that looks like a sex toy

This is a common theme; often the people who can’t afford much are people who don’t live alone.  Wand massagers like the Mystic Wand are quiet and discreet looking; for the budget-minded you can try their Mini version battery-powered which is under $40 at Shevibe, or the rechargeable Mini which is just barely under $50.  You’ve seen these recommended before: For pinpoint stimulation the We-Vibe Tango and Lelo Mia 2 both fit the “tiny & quiet” bill. Often you can find a glass sex toy that looks more like art than a dildo, however please read up on glass before you go buy something super cheap. Newbies won’t want to drop the cash for Fucking Sculptures brand but it certainly passes for art.

Butts (and prostates!) need love, too

If you’re looking for plugs and dildos to prepare a butt for eventual butt sex, you should start out small and buy a few in graduating sizes, as I recommend in the beginner’s guide to anal sex toys. If you decide you like the sensation, consider the Tantus Neo, Lux LX1 or Fun Factory Booty for something under $50 or spend a little more to try the Njoy Pure Plug which is seriously highly rated. These are all plugs that are made to stay in one spot and provide the sensation of something being in there, or fullness if you get the bigger sizes.

If you’re looking for something to stimulate the prostate, start out with the Tantus Pro Touch from their Grab Bag for something affordable – it has the tip and curve that tends to target the prostate. Another option that has a little more oomph in the vibrations department is the Renegade Massager. You can also try out the non-vibrating Doc Johnson Mood Naughty 2 to see if you like the blobby-shaped prostate-targeting style of the Aneros line. If you decide you like the sensation but need more vibration, consider the Lust L12 for something a little over $50 or L’amourose Rosa Rouge for a big splurge. 

Sensations for butt toys vary – some like the feeling of thrusting. That’s when you would try out a dildo. The Tantus Ease is sold as a plug but it really is more dildo, to me – long and with a mostly straight shaft. The Tantus Warm Up is another great choice.

Going beyond a hand job

The world of sex toys for the penis is just so damn difficult to navigate for someone like me – I’m loathe to recommend very porous or toxic toys, yet 95% of the masturbator sleeves out there are porous. Very few are silicone – the ones that are, are very expensive or not awesome. I’m not against Fleshlight and Tenga brands, though, despite them being porous because I at least know that they’re not toxic. I’ve not heard reports about people getting skin irritations. You do have to be super vigilant with cleaning them. A Tenga product that I really love, and a material that more companies should embrace, is their line of 3D sleeves. It’s a porous TPR material infused with silver for its anti-microbial properties. They’re extremely soft with a texture; they’re open-ended too so it won’t create vacuum suction (which also often is very noisy). Since there is no hard plastic shell around it, you can use your hand to increase pressure; you can also use your other hand to grip the open end shut to create some suction.

I read that “50 Shades” book…..

So you read one of those damn 50 Shades books and want to “spice things up”. When people say this, they can mean anything from “let’s use a sex toy” to “I have a secret kink I’ve held back on for years”.  I’m not to be considered an expert on anything serious for BDSM/kink, but I can get you started.  Pretty much the whole entire “position aids” section at Shevibe will be enough to “spice-ify” the most vanilla of sex lives, or at least get you on your way to being able to communicate deeper kinks and desires. For a little restraint and blindfold experimenting, the Liberator Pro Cuff kit is nice, sturdy and has the best blindfold I’ve ever tried on. For less money, they also have a starter set, fewer restraints.  You can also consider things like sex slings and under the bed style restraint systems – this one fits any bed, while this more basic one will only work up to a Queen size bed.

But what about!

You’ll see I don’t mention vibrating cock rings or rabbit vibes here. That’s because I think these are the equivalent to when a real estate agent tries to call a house “cozy” when it’s really 700 square feet, or a “fixer upper” when it barely has a floor and a roof. I don’t think that most cock rings are worth it or work well for couples, and rabbit vibes are SO hit-or-miss. In my years of  reviewing I’ve found ONE that fits me perfectly and it’s really expensive.  I didn’t get into things like harnesses because I don’t think I’ve tried enough, plus my size limits my ability to really judge the less expensive ones (my favorite of all time is the Aslan Minx or Jaguar, not something most newbies want to drop the money on). This starter kit is going to be decent for most people though.  I don’t get into gender expression items because that’s totally outside my area of expertise. There are a few harnesses too on my budget-minded list.

 Final tips

Some quick tips to keep in mind include gems like: don’t forget the lube; don’t cross-contaminate anal and vaginal toys; make sure you clean all of your sex toys properly; and finally – go slow. Try different positions. Be patient. Sex toys aren’t meant to replace a person, and they can’t. Sex toys are about enhancing the pleasure. Vibrators aren’t dangerous or addictive, nor will a large dildo “stretch out” a vagina. Have fun and check your ego.

While this guide certainly won’t cover ever aspect, it should hopefully get you started from point A. If there’s anything I haven’t covered, please ask below!