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.

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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!

May 142014
 

Today I’m giving you some advice that I don’t tend to take for myself, at least not consistently. And I should. You see, I’m an anonymous blogger. I don’t show my face on the blog, I don’t go by real name. A bunch of other bloggers, and industry people, have met me and/or know my legal name but they still call me Lilly. It would be downright weird if any of them called me by my real name. *shrugs* I just AM Lilly.

However….the connection between my legal name (and address) and Lilly / Dangerous Lilly is something that I expect these people to keep to themselves. My privacy on this matter is tantamount to my being able to do this. I have reasons, valid reasons, for keeping the two things completely separate. So do many people, who aren’t bloggers. Sex workers, porn performers, etc. I guess I mostly expected the sex toy companies to get this, but a lot of them don’t. I guess I can’t really fault them, because this is something I should be proactive with.

Always inform new review partners of your anonymity and level of discretion needed for packages they send you. Don’t assume they know!

We all should, for those who need some level of anonymity.

I don’t really know what the UPS driver, the bank teller or the postal service person would DO with the knowledge, but whether I like it or not, they all have seen that connection I try to keep buried.

So before you work with a new company, be it a retailer OR a manufacturer, be up front with them. Talk to them about the level of anonymity you need AND the level of package discretion you need. If you need that package to be discreet because of your neighbors, or who you live with, you have the right to discuss this and ask for it. Today I received a review item from BMS Factory, that had BMS branded packing tape all over the outside, and was sent in a Pipedream box. Pipedream.com allll over this box. It also had “Lilly” on the outside of the box. It’s more tolerable than “Dangerous Lilly”, but that’s because of my situation. I can assure you that if I were younger and living with family and someone saw a box with something other than my legal name, I surely would get questioned. I totally do not hold BMS to blame for this. As their rep said, they’re more accustomed to sending out samples to a magazine, and not a person. The onus is truly on me to advocate for my privacy in this arena, and I need to do it more. The companies don’t mind following your request, I find.

PackageI’ve had numerous other instances of this happening, too, so I don’t want it to seem like I’m calling out BMS. It was just something that happened today and it’s happened a bunch of times recently, and it prompted me to write this post.

tl:dr – Before you accept a review product from a new manufacturer/retailer, inform them of your anonymity and discretion level that needs to be met, lest you find a package on your doorstep that clearly gives away what is inside and what your blog name is.
 Posted by at 4:00 pm
Apr 292014
 

While you’re waiting on me to finish up some reviews, and while I was procrastinating on everything I actually *should* be working on, I scrolled through some search terms that led people to my site. I’m not sure if these people found the answers they were looking for. In case they didn’t, though, let’s get started.

“can u have sex with luna beads”

Well a penis and two Luna beads are a bit crowded for the average vagina – even if you’re using the Mini Luna Beads. That’s the understatement of the year. Anal sex with Luna beads in the vag? Perhaps. Oral sex with Luna Beads in the vag? Ok, but I don’t see what that would do for ya.

“fixsation v.s. we vibe4”

No contest, We-Vibe 4. We-vibe 4 is more powerful than the Fixsation, and works a lot better too.

“dildo melted on other toy”

THROW THEM BOTH OUT. NOW.

“it is dangerous to use sex toys made in china?”

We need to stop focusing on the Where and focus on the Who. As I discussed before, if it’s a vibrator then chances are it will have to be made in China. That in and of itself doesn’t make the sex toy bad.

“is melted sex toy safe to use”

Jesus fuck, no. It wasn’t safe to use BEFORE it melted, but now you’ve got chemicals and oils leeching out and material breaking down and….no. It’s toxic to you at this point.

“do i get phthalates if i use condom on vibrator”

There haven’t been any studies to show if the condom can actually block the dangerous, toxic chemicals that leach from cheap sex toys. There have been reports from other users that they still experienced skin irritation and burning despite covering the sex toy with a condom, so our best guess is that the condom is ineffective. Even if the sex toy doesn’t use phthalates to soften, there is still the risk of using a porous toy because of the nasties that can hang out in the material and breed.

“how do you get mold off of silicone sex toys”

If there’s mold on your “silicone” sex toy, then it was never silicone to begin with. Throw it out and buy from trusted manufacturers. Maybe even do a flame test next time?

“itchy after using silicone dildo”

It wasn’t really silicone. If the material was crystal clear, then it wasn’t the silicone the manufacturer/retailer claimed it was, and you’re itchy from the chemicals leaching out of the material.

“sex toys made from wax”

Ok, I’mma judge you a little bit here. Especially since I’m seeing other variations of this search term. NO! They’re bad! See also: Regretsy for Sex Toys: Clay and Wax Dildos. And then run like hell in the other direction.

“jelly dildo black spots”

Those black spots? That’s mold, most likely. Unless you stored it on/in/near something dyed black, but that’s less likely to be spotty. Please, toss this dildo! It’s unsafe, even before the mold grew.

 

Search terms that I just couldn’t even answer include: “pure wand anal damage rectum”, “jelly none taste none smell dildos”, and “my vagina has a rubber smell after using dildos”. Also, a LOT of people are using the spelling “dildoes” in addition to the other crap spelling mistakes. also, a few people are sadly misinformed that a “wii vibe” is not what they thought when they heard the words spoken.

 Posted by at 5:13 pm
Apr 182014
 
A trio of wood sex toysWOOD SEX TOYS?!? But won’t I get SPLINTERS?!?

When I encounter a wood sex toy newbie, the “splinters” bit is bound to come up right away. Either in an attempt at a joke or said in seriousness, I will admit it makes me roll my eyes a bit. Do you get splinters from the wood furniture you sit on? From the wood salad bowl you use? From the wood bedpost you hump? I’ve yet to run across a wood sex toys crafter on Etsy that didn’t make use of excessive sanding and a finish, because they’re all woodworkers. It wouldn’t make very much sense to just hand over an unfinished wood carving. Right?

Why Wood?

Made from a sustainable material, well-made and cared-for wooden dildos can last a lifetime. Wood is beautiful, it makes every dildo unique, and often can be made solely from scrap wood. Hans Hardwoods, the first little company I heard about years ago, uses only salvaged scrap wood.  Depending on the type of wood used, your piece can be  featherweight, lightweight or have a bit of heft to it for its size, but it certainly won’t be as heavy as glass and definitely nothing like steel. Depending on the type of finish used, the wood dildo can glide as slickly as a glass or metal toy with only a small amount of lube.  When a high-quality finish is used, the grain of the wood stands out in a nearly-3D effect; it’s similar to how beautiful rocks and shells look when you pick them up on the beach, but they look dull and boring once they dry out at home.

Wood can also lend itself to some truly unique designs. I’ve never seen anything in the industry like the Nobessence Fling. Too often I’ve seen a small wooden dildo maker that has promise but only makes subtle designs that don’t excite me, or simply look too much like the leg of my kitchen table. With the creativity wood allows, why would you even bother with designs that look like an oversized tampon?  Looking through the massive listing of the wooden dildos that Hans Hardwoods has sold will really show you what can be done. Unlike Hans Hardwoods, whose designs are more organic and varied, Nobessence sticks to recreating tested design shapes that people love. I’ve not met many people who dislike the Seduction once they try it, and anal plug fans adore the Romp.  There is a benefit to the Nobessence way of life: the design has already been tested, refined, and so on. With the Hardwood Dildos, it’s more about what would seem to be a great shape, and no testing–some are going to work out great, some not so well. This also happens when you think you know best, and create your own.

How to Choose a Quality Wood Dildo

Most wood dildo makers keep it safe and simple; they never stain the wood. With all the various types of wood out there, combined with the beauty of what happens during the varnish coating process, who needs stains?? If you find one that is, I would stay clear of it. I would also keep away from dildos that boast a “natural finish” (see next section for the reason). Most wood sex toy makers put their design through many sessions of sanding, to smooth out any naturally-occurring rough spots and sharp edges.

The biggest sign of safety, though, is the coating used. Hardwoods uses something called “Salad bowl finish” which is food safe grade, but not an oil. Nobessence uses “Lubrosity”, which from the sounds of it, is the most superior wooden dildo coating being used currently. Both of the Hardwoods dildos I’ve own have been a more silky matte finish, and not quite as slick. The Nobessence coating clearly brings out the depth and beauty of the wood grain better. My older Seduction is a semi-matte satin finish, while my Fling is much more shiny and glossy. Both are smooth and beautiful.

Here’s what Alicia from Nobessence had to say about their process:

When wood, even ‘treated’ wood, comes into contact with moisture it will absorb some of it.  The results of that moisture can be a raised bumpy grain, warping and yes, splinters.  And add to that the harboring of bacteria, you can see why it was very important to us when we started selling our sculptures, that the coating be something more than ‘food safe wax or oil’.  Those products are great for salad bowls and chopping boards, but not for sex toys.  Even the non-toxic coatings used on children’s toys were rejected.  I don’t know of any children’s toys that are worn in the body, like a butt plug – well, at least that’s not the plan for them.  We have designed our Sculptures for use – they are in contact with moisture and delicate body tissue for extended periods of time.  So we worked for a long time to develop the process we call our ‘Lubrosity Coating’.  It involves a medical grade polymer – used on medical devices.  It’s formulated to be bacteria resistant, moisture resistant, hypoallergenic.  It meets our high standards.

We’ve been using our coating since 2007 and in that time we’ve been asked to re-coat only two of our own Sculptures.  Both of those had been damaged by the owners using abrasive body scrub type soaps on them.  In that same time, we’ve been asked to refinish and coat numerous other wooden dildos carved by other people.  We’re more than happy to do that.  There are some beautiful pieces out there and it’s a shame for people to spend a lot of money on a unique hand crafted item only to find it rough and bumpy after a couple of uses.

Something you’ll want to avoid is when the manufacturer boasts a “natural finish”. Thus far, I’ve only seen this on the smaller Etsy-based crafters. It seems that they’re mostly wood artists who make other household items, and simply finish them the same way. They think that a natural finish is safer than chemical-laden varnish, no doubt. But it won’t take long for that natural finish to wear off, leaving the wood susceptible to retaining moisture which will cause it to swell and splinter, and be porous. And, when it comes to using carnauba wax, olive oil, mineral oil, beeswax, etc., there is a greater chance for someone to have a skin reaction due to allergies and sensitivities. Between the use, the washing, and the lube I just can’t see these finishes standing the test of time.

What about if the finish is not natural, but isn’t medical grade like Nobessence’s Lubrosity? Well, we don’t know.  The non-toxic food-safe status is for the assumption that it’s being used to coat a children’s toy, a table, a utensil, etc. Most of those aren’t going to be tested for safety as a sex toy sealant. If you’re looking at a butt plug, I’d avoid it. An occasional-use dildo, I would be more tolerant, but make sure you completely inspect that dildo tip to tail before every use to make sure the finish is still perfect and intact.

As you can see from the photos below, the natural grain of wood isn’t perfect. You can see the little imperfections and pits in the wood, but when I run my hands over the dildo I don’t feel anything rough. This is because the wood has been sanded many times and there are many coats of finish on it. On the Nobessence Seduction, I don’t feel anything at all. On the Nobessence Fling I can barely detect those imperfections with my fingers; they are smoothed down and it’s not something I can feel during use. My Fling and Seduction are both the same type of wood; I imagine that on a different type of wood, you might have more or less of these little natural imperfections.

WoodDildoCloseup1 WoodDildoCloseup2

Wood Dildo Makers on Etsy

It seems that many wood carving crafters are sticking with Etsy at first to host and take care of payments. As with anything on Etsy, you can find some really great stuff or you can find items that should never be taken seriously. A few other reviewers have a wood dildo from Silvarus company, but I’m not seeing any reviews of any other Etsy-based wood sex toy makers. I continued to poke around the wood dildos on Etsy, and found some that concerned me. A number of them are using a “natural finish” and some don’t even say outright what that finish is, exactly.  I found this one company called LadyWood who is doing the pyrography that Silvarus also does, but hers are combined with color. At first, these look beautiful, but a closer glance makes me worry. I’m not sure what they are colored with, I assume wood stain; she doesn’t really say what the coating is exactly, but her description of it makes me unsure. Here’s one person who simply finishes it with “good old mineral oil”. Um, no. I don’t think that many of these crafters are really researching the coating to be absolutely certain of the safety, and longevity, of it.

If you find a design on Etsy that appeals to you, I strongly urge you to ask them about the finish they use. If they are using a natural finish, question the longevity and ability to make and keep the dildo non-porous and waterproof. I decided to ask Rickard of Silvarus what he uses, since as of this writing it wasn’t stated on the description, and he replied: “I use water based polyurethane made for applications such as kitchen areas and childrens toys. It’s diluted even further with water and applied in at least 10 coats to totally seal the surface and make it waterproof, virtually maintenance free and glass smooth.” “The surface is absolutely safe and I feel no hesitation using it, BUT there will always be someone oversensitive to ANY surface treatment used. I am 99.5% safe and secure in what I use, but because the 0.5% I have to be honest with my clients and say there is no 100% safe surface, and I doubt there ever will be.” I would argue with the last comment, because I truly believe that the coating Nobessence uses is the safest on the market and given the properties could boast a 100% safety rating.

When the Finish Goes Bad

On my original Hans Hardwood dildo,  I now have cracks and crazing in the finish. This isn’t normal, and if you ever see this after years of use, days or use or even when you first get it, you should contact the company immediately and not continue to use it. At this point the seal is compromised and the quite probably the dildo is no longer considered to be non-porous and waterproof. Another reviewer received a new dildo with a poor finish job, also shown below. After a couple uses, the finish developed some opaque spots that (to me) signifies moisture retention in the wood. The company agreed that it wasn’t normal, and sent her a new one with a much more acceptable finish on it, but it’s hard to say which version could be considered normal production quality for the company. The review on it is up, and it looks like the problems might be continuing.

ETA: K continued to use her replacement Dee Lee Do dildo, and saw damage to the finish again. She then did the water test described below, and well….the results? Very very bad. Only submerged for a minute, the dildo is now ruined and it’s a good thing, too–the finish would have continued to slowly deteriorate and flake off inside her. For now, I’d say that I don’t trust Dee Lee Do’s finish, and I’d also say that if you have any doubts about the finish on your wood sex toy, do the water test. The updated photo from K is the last one below.

WoodDildoCrackedFinish K circled the opaque spots in the finish K circled the opaque spots in the finish on her Dee Lee Do dildo Bl1Yp5RIEAAQO_L

Care and Cleaning

A wood sex toy shouldn’t be tossed around, unprotected in a drawer or overnight bag. I made that mistake years ago. I would absolutely recommend that you store your wood dildo in a pouch that is made from a slightly padded or thicker material (something made of satin, for example, wouldn’t provide enough protection in my opinion). Anything abrasive can ruin the finish. Scrubby cleansers or rough cloths shouldn’t be used. If you decide to take the risk and buy a naturally finished dildo, you should avoid using a lot of soap and you might consider re-doing the coating (especially if its oil) yourself every half a dozen uses to ensure that it remains waterproof and as non-porous as it can be. A Nobessence toy ONLY can be cleaned more thoroughly for use between partners by wiping down with anti-bacterial/microbial cleaner (alcohol, bleach, peroxide, etc.). I have seen other manufacturers/crafters caution against using anything that harsh, because the finish they are using cannot tolerate it–this means the wood sex toys from other crafters cannot be truly sanitized.

If you suspect that there’s a problem with the finish, Nobessence gives a great way to test that: “The integrity of your finish may be tested by immersing in water for a few seconds and removing to inspect. If the area in question darkens in response to water AND when wiped remains damp when the surrounding area is dry, then your toy should be retired or replaced.”

Can a wood sex toy break? Sort of. According to Nobessence: “Please protect your investment from impact with other solid surfaces (hard floors, sinks, etc.) as this may decrease the aesthetic qualities of the finish and ultimately damage the woods’ internal cell structure – weakening it and making it more prone to damage. In the event that your toy impacts another solid surface, gently but firmly test the integrity of your toy before the next use.”

If you have any other concerns, questions, whatever please ask below!

 Posted by at 12:39 pm