All of my readers know, or should know, that I think vibrators are awesome. Spectacular. A boon to sexual health. Not everybody will agree with me, though. So today when I ran across a post that sounded very anti-vibrator, I’ll admit…my hackles were raised in right quick order.
N of My Dissolute Life allows readers to ask questions for him to advise on. Today’s question was “I can’t orgasm without a vibrator. What should I do?”. My answer is obvious: Embrace it. Bring it in to your partnered sex life. Be happy that you can achieve orgasm whatever way that works for you. As I commented on N’s post, I spent 10 years not having orgasms because I didn’t know any better. It’s not that sex didn’t feel good….no, it felt great. But I couldn’t push over that edge and I was ashamed of it. I didn’t tell my partners. I hid it. That was a disservice to myself AND my partners. But I didn’t really know about sex toys and I had no idea that a vibrator could help me. Today, a vibrator is present in damn near every sexual encounter I have, unless to do so would simply be cumbersome. My husband has no problems with it. He’s very much a part of and responsible for my orgasms during sex. My husband, and any partner I choose to have sex with, is evolved, sensitive, realistic, secure and respectful about my sexuality and my sexual needs.
But N’s “non-kinky” answer was : “The generic one is this: you just need to break your addiction. Plain and simple. STOP masturbating with a vibrator. Sure, you’ll have some period of time when you’re dying to cum, dying to take out your trusty old friend. But you need to use that desperation in service of your elusive manual orgasm. I promise: if you go a month without an orgasm by the vibrator, you’ll be able to have one by hand.” (read his whole post here)
I got so upset at this that I immediately put on my commenting hat and my hands were actually shaking. Yes, I did jump on the “mansplaining” cart perhaps a little too quickly but maybe not. I’m not about to tell any man that the method he uses for orgasm is bad and he should stop it, if he should come to me feeling insecure about it. I will suggest to him ways to incorporate it into partnered sex. But since I lack a penis and prostate, I don’t have any actual experienced knowledge on how the male orgasm works.
I cannot say this enough: Vibrators are not a problem. They are not bad, they are not habit-forming, they are not dangerous, you are not weak and broken if you need one. Personally, I’ve found that my use of vibrators has increased my sensitivity. When I first started, I needed things that were super strong. As I’ve tried more toys I’ve discovered that it’s about more than just the strength, it’s the depth of the vibrations. I need more than just the external head my clit stimulated. It’s that simple. Since I’ve been using vibrators I have indeed been able to orgasm with just fingers or tongues and yes, I was delighted about this. I’m happy to try again because it leads to a different-feeling orgasms than the vibrators and it’s a novelty to me. It’s the same thing for me as if I tried to bake a loaf of bread and it turned out well. Yay! But I suck at baking so 90% of the time I’m going to purchase pre-made bread and that’s ok. There’s nothing wrong with having someone or something else make my bread.
This isn’t the first time a man will proclaim vibrators to be bad for us, and I’m quite sure it won’t be the last. In fact I’m sure that there are women who are anti-vibrator. (I don’t understand why, though. Why the fuck are so many people so fucking judgmental when it comes to how someone else does something? What do you care if I need a vibrator? It’s not hurting you. Don’t shame me into thinking I’m broken. Live your life and be happy, let me do the same. You don’t personally like or need vibrators? Great! More power (or not) to you! I’m starting to think the hippie compounds of the 1960s had it right. )
Embrace your sexuality. Embrace your kinks, explore whatever avenues you want. But rest assured you are not alone in whatever it is you need and like for your orgasms or arousal.
BE SEX POSITIVE.
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There are two sex toy materials that seem to scare the uninitiated: Glass and wood1. It is ironic considering that the material you should be the most scared of is the one 50% of customers purchase willingly and gleefully. But glass is strong, non-porous, is not made with chemicals and is compatible with every type of lube.
The World of Glass Sex Toys
The glass we use is Borosilicate glass (often known as the trade name “Pyrex”). A 1-inch rod of Pyrex glass requires more than 3000 pounds of pressure to snap in half and has a crush strength of over 8 tons. Our glass pieces, after being formed initially, are put back into the kiln and “annealed” (heated) almost back to melting point. This gives each piece its final smoothness and brings the glass back to its full strength because all the parts have been completely fused together into a single solid work of art. This adds hours of extra time to the process and is one of the first places that will be scrimped on with the much less expensive glass products. Knowing where the glass comes from is really important to help you understand that every piece you receive is a unique handmade piece of art crafted lovingly just for you!
Shellie, owner of Crystal Delights glass dildos and plugs
Not all glass sex toys are created equal, however. I’ve certainly been disappointed in quality issues with glass dildos I’ve received (the most obvious being the ugly one) – mainly because despite the “hand-blown” buzz word, the toys were mass-produced and failed to look like the photos provided. When you buy a glass sex toy you absolutely must be prepared to receive something that is not a perfect replica down to the millimeter of the photos and specs on the retail site you’re purchasing from. But yet too much of an anomaly leads to surprises of the bad kind, disappointments, and sometimes leaves you with a sex toy you have no desire to use. I’ve owned glass dildos from Pipedreams, Joyful Pleasures, Dream Toys and SSA Glass. Joyful Pleasures was probably the best out of those but it still was a let down due to the size difference from their stats to what I actually received. The SSA Glass dildos were all huge disappointments in all aspects: quality, design and consistency. But then again the saying “you get what you pay for” is true; SSA Glass is cheap and it shows. The cheaper glass sex toys still won’t break during sexual use but they might chip more easily. They certainly won’t have the artistic beauty and careful construction like truly hand-made glass toys will.
One thing that all of the above sex toy manufacturers have in common is that their glass dildos are produced in a large plant in China. This isn’t necessarily a death sentence but it depends on how involved the manufacturer is in their quality control – I’ve dealt with companies who manufacture in China and they turn out quality products that are consistent. But what if you knew that your sex toy was made locally by a skilled artisan and that it passed through only a few hands before arriving on your doorstep?
Crystal Delights – Small Manufacturer of High-Quality Glass Sex Toys
I have talked with Shellie, the owner, a few times about sex toy businesses and her glass sex toys. Talking to her always reinforces why we should make the effort to choose small sex toy companies over the Founding 5. Shellie designs the toys, inspects them and packages them up for shipment herself. You’ll never receive a plug or dildo or paddle that she hasn’t personally looked over to make sure it meets her standards. She uses just one local glass blower who is very adept at creating consistently high quality items. While you still see minor differences in size because there is no mold to fill, you can also do something with Shellie that you can’t do with larger companies: Talk to her. I know, it’s a novel idea! But let’s say that you’re eying up her small glass butt plug and you’re still really new to anal plugs. You might feel a little nervous about the size and wish that it was a little smaller. All you have to do is email Shellie and tell her that you’d like a plug that runs a little under the normal specs. If you’d like to go even further you can contact her to make a custom piece!
I have my own glass plug2 courtesy of Shellie and I’ve seen all of her stuff in person a few times. The vintage plugs, the Swarovski crystal plugs and dildos, the , the tail plugs – it is all, without a doubt, the most stunning and sparkly glass sex toy collection I’ve ever seen. Not one piece looked weird or wonky. In fact, I don’t think I’ve even read a bad review on her stuff.
I asked Shellie a few questions because I’m a Sex Toy Geek!
How do you come up with your designs?
The basic design is the easy part! You can get inspiration from almost anything, it can be the color, the shape, the attachment (crystal, medallion, tail) or even a customer request, can I have this but bend it this way or add a bump here, shorter, longer, you get the point. But that really is the beauty of glass, it is very adaptable!
Do you do a lot of testing and revamping the designs before you list them?
That is a difficult question, sometimes things just come together and its fast and perfect right off the bat, but other times it takes months to get it just right, there is testing here before it goes out to my “product testers” and then feedback from them before it is ready to launch. What I think is a brilliant idea sometimes isn’t!
What sort of “quality control” things do you do that a large manufacturer overseas wouldn’t do?
This is one of the things that I love about glass manufacturing, I touch and look at every piece of glass that goes out the door to a customer. And I am the second line that has done that, because the glass blower has already looked at it as well. We want to be able to take those extra steps to make sure we are giving you the best possible product for your money. We know that you have many choices and we want you to be glad you picked us for your business. I try to be available as much as possible via social media, email, even phone to help with anything that might come up, we want you to know we take customer service, and our products seriously.
Can you work with people to create a custom design or size?
We can and do! I have several custom pieces out there already and I often contact people when I get a special tail, or medallion in that I think they would love. Again that is part of what is special about handmade glass from a small company; I like to know my customers and what they want and ,if there is any way possible, get it to them. That isn’t a possibility from the big box manufacturers importing from China.
Glass Sex Toy Pros, Cons and Myths
- Pro: Glass is non-porous and free of any chemicals that might be harmful
- Pro: Glass is compatible with any type of lube
- Pro: Glass is easy to clean (depending on the design, of course as some more elaborate designs can require more than just a rinse to get in the crevices) and can be sterilized in boiling water or the top rack of your dishwasher. Check with the manufacturer, though, before subjecting it to high heat.
- Myth: Glass sex toys will break during use – I don’t know what people think when they think of glass sex toys but the truth is that they’re made out of a very sturdy and solid glass (borosilicate) that is resistant to cracks and damage. This isn’t like your grandmother’s antique glassware or anything. 98% of glass sex toys are solid, not hollow3.
- Myth: Glass sex toys will cut/injure you – Unless you managed to chip it, that’s simply impossible. Before you use your glass sex toys you should always inspect them for damage. While they are difficult to damage with normal use, it’s still possible to accidentally drop it on the wrong surface at the wrong angle and incur damage.
- Pro: Glass is a natural and reusable material. Have a glass toy that chipped? Safely smash it up to bits and use it in a mosaic somewhere; otherwise try to locate a recycler who takes this type of glass (Just ask if they recycle Pyrex-type glass).
- Con: Glass is very sensitive to temperature – great for temperature play if you do it correctly (warm or cool water only) but you must be careful! You know what happens when you stick out your tongue and lick a frozen lamp pole, right? Yeah. Don’t ever freeze your sex toys for sadistic play. Don’t dunk them in boiling water for cleaning without donning silicone oven mitts or having another safe method of retrieval.
- Con: One chip and you’re done for. Yes, it can chip. It’s not something that happens easily and I’m not saying that you should only use glass sex toys in a padded room but do be careful. When you’re boiling it for cleaning, have a tea towel in the pot to protect surfaces and only do one sex toy at a time. Dishwashers are fine. I’d caution clumsy people against using a glass dildo if you’re in a room full of concrete or ceramic surfaces (in case you drop it).
- Pro: You won’t need as much lube for a clear glass (i.e. non-frosted) sex toy
- Pro: Can double as art! I’ve seen some stunning pieces that could easily sit in a china cabinet. Of course you should only do this if you’re prepared for the “Ohhh that’s pretty…..what is it?” question.
Just like with any other sex toy, you should be mindful of which glass sex toy manufacturers you entrust. Not all glass toys are made from damage-resistant heat-resistant borosilicate and not all borosilicate glass toys are annealed for extra strength! This is why I personally recommend Crystal Delights and other small manufacturers like Simply Blown and Steele Malone who all use glass-blowers and keep things simple and local4. I’ve also seen some very unique glass sex toys on Etsy which are made by glass artisans and can range from the mundane been-there-done-that to beautiful, original works of art.
Do you have any more questions on glass sex toys? Ask and I will get the answers!
Already familiar with the joys and beauty of glass? Tell me in comments what your most favorite pieces are!
- If I had a dollar for every time I saw a comment about Nobessence or Hans wooden dildos saying something along the lines of “I’d be scared of splinters!!” I’d be a somewhat rich woman. Still annoyed as hell, but at least rich and annoyed ↩
- It’s fucking gorgeous, I love so many of her vintage ones but this one spoke to me, you can see it here ↩
- Actually I’ve only seen one hollow glass dildo and it was made by Don Wands. It was hollow because they painted the design on the inside. This left a small hole in the dildo where the miniscule brush went in and during use small amounts of body fluid and lube would get in. During cleaning, water would get in. It also resulted in a dildo that left a lot of people feeling nervous about its strength ↩
- I’ve never seen or tried out a Simply Blown or Steele Malone dildo, though, they’re not common at online stores and they’re too pricey for me to buy! ↩
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Everybody goes on and on about how “green” and environmentally superior rechargeable sex toys are, but I’d bet that you didn’t know this fact:
Alkaline batteries can be safely disposed of with normal household waste. Never dispose of batteries in fire because they could explode.
Due to concerns about mercury in the municipal solid waste stream, we have voluntarily eliminated all of the added mercury from our alkaline batteries since 1993, while maintaining the performance you demand. Our alkaline batteries are composed primarily of common metals—steel, zinc, and manganese—and do not pose a health or environmental risk during normal use or disposal.
It is important not to dispose of large amounts of alkaline batteries in a group. Used batteries are often not completely “dead.” Grouping used batteries together can bring these “live” batteries into contact with one another, creating safety risks.
Proven cost-effective and environmentally safe recycling processes are not yet universally available for alkaline batteries. Some communities offer recycling or collection of alkaline batteries—contact your local government for disposal practices in your area.1
So the typical AA and AAA batteries you go through fast enough to warrant purchasing them in bulk from Costco are actually not that damn bad for the environment! I did not know this. However, rechargeable batteries – both the AA kind and the ones permanently lodged in your luxury sex toy – should be recycled. I’m betting a lot of don’t do this.
Due to the chemicals in them, you should recycle rechargeable, lithium, lithium ion, and zinc air batteries.
In addition to “traditional” rechargeable batteries like AAs or AAAs, rechargeable batteries like the ones found in everyday household items such as cameras, cell phones, laptops, and power tools should also be recycled. Look for the battery recycling seals on rechargeable batteries.
As part of our commitment to the preservation of the environment, we help fund the nonprofit Rechargeable Battery Recycling Corporation (RBRC) and its Call2Recycle® program. To find a rechargeable battery recycling location near you, visit www.call2recycle.org.2
Sex toy recycling sites have started disappearing. I read about one guy based in Tampa, Florida who had a site and the article (from 2009) stated that he was currently operating at a loss. It shouldn’t be much of a surprise then that the website named in that article is now gone. Another sex toy recycling site that seemed to be active, also around 2008-2009 appears to be defunct. LoveHoney does still run their “Rabbit Amnesty” program where they’ll give you points towards future purchases for sending them in sex toys (for some reason turning in a rabbit vibe gets you more points) to recycle. Unfortunately this is a UK site and I’m having trouble finding anything like it in the US. Of course, there’s always going to be idiotic media bloggers who are all “Ewww recycled sex toys?? That’s so gross!!” because they’re fucking idiots who don’t even know what an anal toy is, but I digress.
So here’s the section of my post wherein I don’t have an answer and I look to geeks who are geekier than me to tell us: Let’s say we can’t find an actual sex toy recycling program. But can we remove the rechargeable battery from our high-end sex toys if we decide that they’re taking up space and we hate them and no longer use them and just want to be rid of them? I have to be honest I wouldn’t even know how to go about breaking open something like a Lelo vibrator. As much as we are given the argument that all these rechargeable sex toys are greener and better for the environment, I have to wonder about that given that 98% of the sex toy owning population doesn’t recycle their expensive toys. Let’s face it: You’re going to buy a rechargeable sex toy that you hate at some point if you haven’t already. Fuck, most of my rechargeable sex toys I’ve ended up hating or just not liking enough to use. But then again, I keep half of them for comparison purposes for future reviews and the other half of them go to new homes via the ToySwap network. But if I didn’t have those two reasons, I would most likely just toss it. And that is not green.
As I quoted from Duracell up there, the alkaline batteries actually aren’t that bad for the environment but some of those rechargeable ones really can be. Lithium-Ion/Polymer batteries are not toxic but *should* be recycled3. Upstanding companies like Lelo4, Fun Factory and Swan/Leaf etc use Li-Po batteries. NiCad rechargeable batteries though are bad for the environment and really must be recycled and disposed of properly. But with shady companies making sex toys out of “silicone” when it’s really a porous silicone blend, can I trust them that they’re not using a cheaper rechargeable battery on their $125 sex toy? I actually looked at the CalEx site and there are no specs there that tell me what kind of rechargeable battery is in their toys. I couldn’t find out anything on my Topco brand Climax Twist rechargeable toy. I don’t know what Vibratex is using either.
I could go on and on about more aspects of “green” and sex toys, but that’s a topic for another day. Really though I just wanted to point out that your Energizer or Duracell standard batteries are not going to turn our earth to a manky, gooey pile of decay and if you think you’re being green just by trying to choose rechargeable sex toys…..think a little harder about green aspect beyond just the battery. While no electronic item is truly green, there are varying levels of “green” and it all comes down to how the sex toys are produced. Technically if you want the greenest vibrator, you could choose a Tantus sex toy. The pure silicone is chemically inert; the vibrator portion is small and can be removed easily and replaced when the motor dies (instead of replacing the whole sex toy); the Tantus toys that use an N1 style bullet, the bigger ones that resemble the RO-80mm style, take an alkaline battery.
Want to recycle your batteries, no matter what? Go here.
- Courtesy of Duracell ↩
- Also courtesy of Duracell ↩
- Unless of course you feel like purchasing a Li-Po battery drainer thingie and soaking the battery in salt water THEN you can throw it out ↩
- I might not think much of their products anymore from a cost vs quality aspect but I do respect that they are using the better type of rechargeable battery and that they appear to be running a more conscientious China factory ↩
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Silicone sex toys are heralded as the most superior sex toy material to many people. Silicone dildos can vary through a range of densities and silicone vibrators can feel plush without the potential for harm (like jelly or rubber). I picked the brain of Metis Black1, the fabulous woman behind Tantus Inc, makers of some very awesome silicone sex toys. She is one of very few sex toy manufacturers that I fully trust to tell me the truth. Get your sex geek on and find out some myths and facts about silicone sex toys!
Myth or Fact: Silicone sex toys will “melt” or degrade if they touch each other while in storage
I own a lot of silicone. Scratch that; I own a lot of quality, true silicone. And I’m not diligent about storage. So if there’s anybody who can say that this is a myth, it’s me. And Metis. I asked her about this and she said:
I think this came from so many toys that were TPR or TPE that were (and continue to be) mislabeled silicone. Thermoplastic materials melt because they are unstable (they have free electrons that try to bond to other materials). As these electrons leave the toy, the toy disintegrates. No silicone is going to melt. At 600 degrees F it turns ashy. A silicone toy like the O2, with extra soft silicone, may burn off some of the dimethicone – flaming a little and becoming sooty- but still not melting.
So in other words if your silicone sex toy has any issues in your toybox, then it’s either not truly silicone or some rogue silicone lube from another toy got on it.
Myth or Fact: Silicone lube should never, ever be used with a silicone sex toy!
99% of the time you will be told that you shouldn’t use silicone lube with a silicone sex toy. I’ve parroted that info as well because it’s all I know. However a couple of manufacturers, Fun Factory for one, used to2 advertise that you could use silicone lubes with their silicone sex toys.
The Metis quick-n-dirty science geek answer:
The only thing that links silicone molecules is silicone so that’s why you may need to avoid lubes. The quality of the silicones in the lubricant and in the toy make a lot of difference.
Let’s say you really like your silicone sex toys and you really like using them in the bath or shower. Water-based lubes will fail you here. Are you out of luck? Not quite. A higher quality silicone lubricant won’t mess up a silicone sex toy - usually (Metis recommends Sliquid and Pjur brands)
Even with these brands we recommend you do a patch test (just like you’re supposed to with hair dye): on the base of the toy put a dab of lube and see if the lube gets gummy (it doesn’t ever melt). If it does get gummy it will happen pretty quickly and with only a small patch, you can clean it off with your finger nail.
So if it’s possible that yes, the two CAN meet, why the drumbeat of “Use only water based lubes!”? Litigation.
It became a liability issue when someone claimed it “melted” the toy as they were playing with it and so the customer went to the hospital. The companies who made the lubricant and the dildo paid that hospital bill and made a settlement; they also started publicizing that their materials were not compatible.
If you purchase both high-quality lubes and sex toys3 then you should be safe to mix, but test it first. I can tell you that the Fun Factory Body Fluid was smeared all over a Fun Factory and 2 Tantus silicone items with absolutely zero reaction that damaged the toy. There was a little bit of a “machine shop” odor though (see really-long-footnote #2 if you haven’t already).
Silicone is perfect, it is non-porous and the ultimate in safety! Right?
A few weeks ago I pulled out some travel bottles called Go Toobs that are a soft, silicone body and plastic flip cap. They boast as being really great for travel. What they don’t tell you is that they’re using a lesser grade of silicone. It’s food-safe grade, which is still pretty good quality, but everything in my travel tubes dried up. I thought, how is this possible? And the woman from the company tells me that silicone is porous. Wait, what? This went against everything I’ve been told and have told others about silicone sex toys. They’re non-porous! Body safe! Yes, they are. For the most part.
Technically silicone has very tiny pores and is virtually non-porous. The pores are smaller than virus’ and bacterias- but some smells can be absorbed4. With time those smells will go away- you can try putting lemon juice on it (though I haven’t tried it) and see if that helps.
Ok so they can still be sanitized. They’re not going to hold onto larger-spored things like mildew, viruses or bacteria. This is the important stuff. An odor can be gotten rid of. Just keep an eye on your anal toys consider 10% bleach washes more often on those.
ETA:Super-soft silicones, like the outer layer on the Tantus O2 dildos, can absorb small amounts of dye depending on the situation. A few years ago it was reported that ForYourNymphomation sex toy cases had a lining with a dye that could transfer to certain toys. The more solid silicones will not take on any dyes but really soft types can. They’re still medically non-porous, however.
Myth or fact: If you see a clear (or stretchy, i.e. a cock ring) “jelly-like” sex toy that claims to be silicone, it really isn’t
This is fact.
Contact Lenses can be made from silicone so yes it can be ultra clear- however silicone that clear is really hard, brittle and about 10 times as expensive for raw materials. It’s beautiful but I’ve never been able to figure out an application in toys where I could justify charging that much. If it’s clear and super stretchy- there is no way it’s silicone. Tantus is shortly introducing the first super soft c-rings- they are nicely stretchy. Every buyer who’s seen them has been really excited- they are coming out later this month, in about a week. As you’ll see however, these rings aren’t clear.
Which leads me to the next question…..
How can the consumer tell if their sex toy is truly pure silicone, and not a blend?
Really it’s still a buyer beware situation. After we burned “silicone” in Australia a few years back, another vendor friend said his stuff was silicone- I told him it wasn’t. I saw this friend’s website recently telling me and you that all their crystal clear super stretchy cock rings were silicone. They aren’t. China told them they were though, and they seem to be sticking to China’s authority. Remember most “manufacturers” don’t manufacture anything but package design and sales strategies. Sometimes they do some engineering but often they don’t even do that. This allows companies to rapidly enter the market- all they need is a warehouse for storing boxes.
Now, Metis isn’t recommending that we all turn into pyromaniacs, but the infamous “lighter test” will work to melt TPR, Sil-a-gel, silicone blends and other silicone-look-a-like materials. I’ve recently added a post all about the flame test for silicone sex toys which includes video so that you can see exactly what happens with true silicone products vs silicone blend products (which are marketed as merely “silicone”) when you light them on fire (or try to).
What do all these words mean, isn’t silicone silicone? What makes Japanese silicone better than medical grade and what is platinum? Why do they have to confuse us??
Because they’re salesmen? Platinum isn’t just a word used for high-selling albums and expensive wedding bands. Metis said first to me, in part replying about the lube compatibility issue that “It’s about different chemistry, some lesser grades of materials bonding. Originally it was a Tin not a Platinum silicone (this refers to chemicals that are in the silicone which make the two liquids into a solid– vulcanize it).” But of course you’ll never see Tin used to describe a sex toy.
The refining process of making silicone was originally created by GE back in the 50′s and they sold the patent to Dow. Then GE apparently figured out the value of it, and created a totally separate method of processing it. There are several other raw processors who make the base materials from sand, ‘silica’. One is a German company Wacker, another a Japanese company Shin Etsu. The only reason to reassure people that it’s Japanese or German is because there is inherent quality believed by consumers to belong to products coming from those two countries.
So apparently the general public has been heavily swayed by cars. Awesome. Also? “Wacker”. *snickers* Yes, I’m 12.
But on the other side of the naming coin is the trickery used by lesser quality manufacturers to make us think that something is silicone. You may see things called TPR-Silicone, Silicone-Elastomer Blend, SEBS, Cyber-Silicone. These are all terms meant to confuse you, and are likely not real. What would be the point in adding in some (much more expensive) silicone to a cheap and porous material? It won’t suddenly make it non-porous. It won’t actually provide any benefit. Sex toy companies started to learn that many people want silicone, so they started to come up with clever ways to make it seem like they’re giving you something special, when they’re not. This material categorization is like cafeteria mystery meat, and hopefully Dildology.org will soon figure out the true nature. It should also be noted that sex toy retailers copy from each other, and that they don’t quickly update their information – so if a manufacturer was once using the false “blend” term, and then stopped, the retailer likely won’t change. I have seen a lot of sex toys on EdenFantasys labeled as “TPR Silicone” and when you look at the manufacturer’s site, they usually refer to it as “TPR”..
Is there a difference between the shiny silicone, the matte silicone, the stuff they stretch over vibrators, etc?
Yes and no. I started off comparing things like the shiny and hard Feeldoe to the matte texture of the soft-exterior Cush O2. Metis said:
Matte silicone just has a different finish on the master or the mold. Molds on the Feeldoe, for example, are highly polished. The difference with the Cush is that the super soft silicone has a different chemistry- it has more of the silicones that are in lube, making it a little less stable (with silicone lubes).
Ok but what about the silicone that gets stretched over mechanical vibrators?
The silicone on a Lelo, or a WeVibe, etc, is an injection material that needs heat in order to cure. You can make dildos with this material too but it’s a process that is much more effective with thin small amounts than with larger amounts. You can tell a silicone toy that is injected like this because the molds have parting lines with small tolerances. Most of Fun Factories designs are made this way. Vixen and Tantus’ products mostly aren’t. The silicone again for both processes is very safe and stable.
I’ve also recently (after writing this post) read about Lelo’s silicone process. They coat their items with something called SST (Silicone Soft Touch) which aids in lending that powdery-silky feel. I know that a lot of other luxury silicone toy companies use this product (it’s basically a liquid silicone that is also body-safe) and so when you flame-test these toys you’ll get a different result than when you flame test the shiny/sticky silicone products. You can see in my video of flame testing that items coated with SST will show a scorch mark that rubs off whereas other non-coated silicone products develop a pale ash, from the dimethicone burning.
Myth: Silicone doesn’t feel as “realistic” though as Cyberskin/Jelly! Silicone isn’t as fun/sparkly! Silicone is expensive!
I hear too many people trying to defend lesser quality materials with arguments like these. Silicone doesn’t mimic a realistic feel or look? Sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn’t. Mentioned before, the Tantus O2 line is a dual-density that has a really firm core with a layer of plushy silicone over top. Vixen Creations also makes some very realistic dildos. Two things though that these manufacturers won’t have in the “realism” department that a gross rubber/cyberskin dildo will have: multiple colors for a realistic skin look (i.e. painted-on veins and a pink cock head) and/or fake pubic hair. I mean, if you really have a burning need for that dildo to fool you into thinking it is a magical, dismembered human penis then I can’t stop you. But that fake pubic hair will trap all kinds of gross shit and the painted-on realistic features? That will wear off after awhile. Where is it going???? Think about that one. Silicone might not be clear and gem-like, but they can certainly add glitter to it. I’ve seen both Tantus and the almost-defunct Jollies LLC do it.
People will also complain that silicone toys are too expensive. I know, they can be. Some manufacturers exploit the whole “luxury sex toy” angle. But there is a valid reason why silicone sex toys cost 2-4 times the prices of jelly, rubber or TPR. And frankly if after reading this whole post you don’t understand why……then I give up! But if you are on a super-strict budget, just watch for sales or keep an eye on the closeout bin at Tantus.
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So have you learned a lot or are you more confused? For me this reinforced my thoughts that when you’re buying silicone sex toys (which you always should, in lieu of jelly, rubber, cyberskin or PVC/vinyl) you should be purchasing them from a reputable company who isn’t just going to trust what China is telling them. Is China bad? Sometimes. Not all the time. It’s more on the manufacturer to do their quality checks. And, by the way, Tantus isn’t made in China. They’re made in the US, in their own shop and Metis knows everything that goes on. They are never in the hands of an unknown mass production company. Thankfully Tantus is not the only sex toy manufacturer that is knee-deep is quality checks, but sadly they’re still in the minority.
- I picked it so much that she might need a few days to re-generate; I really came close to being annoying. I might make a good reporter! ↩
- While the site has changed and they no longer recommend that, they don’t forbid it, either. Manuals on the site will say that using a silicone lube might cause an unpleasant smell when the two collide. However, I found the packet of Body Fluid, FF’s silicone lube, and it came with my Ellove vibrator. The packet lists only two ingredients: dimethicone and dimenthiconol. Currently EF lists the ingredients of Body Fluid as dimethicone and Dimethiconol Cyclomethicone. Is there a difference? I opened my packet of Body Fluid and put it on the Ellove Vibrator, a Tantus dildo that is 5 years old and a Tantus dildo that is 2 years old. Nothing happened. Other brands of silicone lube include other types of silicone in with the dimethicone, so that could be why they will react with a silicone toy since like is touching like. End longest footnote ever. ↩
- a high-quality silicone sex toy will be labeled as “platinum” and/or “medical grade” ↩
- Kitty Stryker had mentioned to me on Twitter that she had an anal plug that has started to retain an odor ↩
A Guide to Sex Toy Reviewers: Stop Using Achievement Levels When Recommending a Sex Toy as Good or Bad
It seems all too common in the reviewing community to label a crappy/weak vibrator as being “great for beginners”. I’m sure I even did it at some point when I first started reviewing, but that doesn’t excuse it.
STOP DOING THIS.
Just because someone is new to sex toys doesn’t automatically mean that they need or want a weak, surface-buzzy vibrator. Stop using this as a means to sugar-coat a crappy toy. You can surely say that someone who is very sensitive to vibrations and prefers subtle, gentle sensations would like that vibration that feels like a fairy blowing in the vicinity of your clit from a distance. That’s valid. But a beginner to sex toys is not always (frequently not) a beginner to sex or masturbation. In fact I might be so bold as to say that many women who are buying their first vibrator are looking for something to help them get off because they’ve not had great luck on their own. That was definitely the case with me. I purchased a few shitty, weak vibes back then and I’m so glad that they weren’t they first vibrators or else I might have given up totally, thinking that what I needed wasn’t out there. Because, of course, those shitty, weak vibes were heaped praises on the sites I bought them from for their strength and “perfect for everyone!” weasel words.
As a reviewer you also should not assume that every slim/slender vibrator is great for beginners. Again, they’re new to sex toys. Not necessarily penetration. And of course even the most well-honed sex-loving person doesn’t necessarily love/want/need girth. Many simply don’t. Conversely, many do. Base your recommendations not on someone’s “skill” level or familiarity with sex toys – instead, base it off reality: word it as “If you are sensitive to vibrations, this would be good for you” or “If you prefer slender insertable toys, this is good for you”. You can and should talk about the size of the toy in relation to how easy it would be to hide it or simply warn them that it’s a beast – are some people intimidated by big honkin toys? Sure. But let’s not lump everyone together like that.
I mean, is there some secret RPG-esque ranking that I’m not aware of? Is there a level 1 Beginner, a level 4 Beginner, after which you’re a level 1 Intermediate user and finally after the purchase and/or use of X number of sex toys you hit the much-lauded rank of Advanced User?
What should a “sex toy for beginners” recommendation look like?
- It should have multiple speeds/intensity levels so that they can figure out what they like and need
- You should always do your best to differentiate between surface-buzzy and deep-rumbly vibrations and know what the difference is – once someone knows that the vibrator they hated was considered surface-buzzy they know to then look for a deep-rumbly one next
- We should be steering them towards affordable yet body-safe materials – Jelly is not ok for beginners, it is not ok for anybody
- We should not be advising them to plonk down over $150 on a singular toy if they own 2 or less toys. They don’t know yet what they need and what works best for them in terms of size, shape and vibration type/intensity
- Ignore the size: Never say that a small or medium size toy is “good for beginners” just because of the size.
And for the love of holy sex toys, just stop sugar-coating reviews: call a spade a spade. It doesn’t help you as an affiliate because once you recommend a shitty toy to someone they won’t trust you in the future. And wouldn’t you want someone to steer you away from a vibrator that should not even be on the market, just like you’d want your friend to be honest and say “Honey, that pair of pants isn’t really flattering to you, let’s find something else”? I would. In fact that’s why and how I found sex toy reviews in the first place. I was so jaded and skeptical and wary of buying a toy that looked ok but I couldn’t tell what the vibrations were like and so I just started asking around in random places and it all led me to finding the blogger reviews (which were so much less saturated back then). And while a seasoned buyer eventually learns to take every review with a grain of salt and realize that what one person thinks is heaven inside silicone will be a piece of shit to someone else, that knowledge takes time, patience and a willingness to keep buying sex toys until they find The One. Or, The Five, whatever your heart desires.
All of this is why I have become unafraid to call out Lelo on their half-assed ventures their last two lines. They were the darling of the sex toy world in the beginning and everyone wanted one or seven of them. That reputation still exists. I think it still exists, in part, because we’re still inundated with too many shitty manufacturers and toys and we want, no need, to call a company Good. Worth It. We don’t have enough Good Eggs in the basket so when one starts to stink a little we perfume it up and try to believe – for ourselves and the sex toy world at large – that it’s still ok. It’s just one bad egg, right? When a company starts riding the coattails of their initial success then we need to pay attention and call that out.
What would I recommend as a good sex toy for beginners? First of all, a good bullet. And by “good” I don’t mean expensive. I mean something that has a variance in intensity levels, is deep and rumbly and isn’t so expensive that replacing it in a year is a hardship or hating it isn’t a waste of money. And then probably some sort of curved, insertable vibrator of silicone or plastic that is moderately priced, can be pull double duty and doesn’t require strange batteries.Read More