Aug 152018
 

At the Woodhull Sexual Freedom Summit this year I was a presenter, alongside Kenton (Funkit), to talk about sex toy myths specifically as they relate to sex toy materials. Pretty much everything we talked about is something I’ve already written about and I created a quick-and-dirty temporary page for Summit attendees to reference to, but decided to create a better post about it.

Sex toy myths are especially hard to dispell, even years later, because the misinformation still spreads. Every day, it seems, I have to gently (or, not so gently) correct a myth mid-spread. This list of links will mean very little to you, though, without seeing the session that inspired it.  You can see the video that was recorded live during the session below, with transcription/captioning done by Erika Lynae who also transcribed last year’s session that inspired this one. I suggest you take the time to read the transcript of the 2017 session to get a feel for why we felt so strongly about our own session, but it is not necessary. The video was filmed by Suz – thank you Suz!!! A bunch of great people live-tweeted during the session  so please check out the hashtag for it on Twitter, #sfsmyths. I encourage you to turn the captioning on because the sound isn’t all that great. I had no idea before the session how we’d be recording for live-streaming so I didn’t bring an extra microphone to better capture our voices.

Please note the best part of the captioning:

KENTON: [GLORIOUS DILDO REMOVAL POP]

AUDIENCE: [GASPS]

[APPLAUSE]

LILLY: The sex toy version of pulling a rabbit out of a hat!

Sex Toy Myths – The Material Basics

We touched on talking about the differences and similarities on material; basically TPR/TPE is a blanket term consisting of many recipes that vary from brand to brand, and these recipes nearly never have harsh plasticizers – but for some reason PVC jelly rubber does. PVC jelly rubber is a TPR, but we know a good bit of the recipe and we know the main ingredient, so we call it by it’s name. It’s like saying “Italian food” and then “Eggplant Parmesan” – everybody’s Eggplant Parm will vary a little, but we know it has Eggplant and cheese, and that it’s “Italian food”. In this strange analogy PVC is the Eggplant Parm and TPR is Italian Food. Here are a few Wikipedia links:

You can see from all of the lab tests that have been done that anything classified generically as TPR/TPE has never had phthalates.

Silicone is cured by various methods – addition-curing adds platinum or tin and this can be combined with room-temperature condensation cure (RTV). This means that “platinum” is not a grade, it’s the means of curing the silicone into a rubber-like elastomer. The only “grades” that can exist are the various medical grades and food grades. Companies can indeed use FDA-approved grades of silicone and pigments but this does not make the finished product FDA-approved.

Toxic Toys

We talked about how and why we continue to use the word “toxic” when we are talking about PVC and TPR toys, despite the fact that newer lab tests show a drastic decline in irritating, unsafe phthalates. I noted that while Doc Johnson’s PVC toys may not contain phthalates they do contain an additive they’ve dubbed “sil-a-gel” whose chemical composition is unknown but is an extreme irritant for many people.

I did touch briefly on the issues with porosity that include an increased risk for vaginal yeast infections, and you can read more about that here.

We discussed the long-standing unproven myth that covering problematic sex toys with condoms suddenly makes them body-safe; in short, no science has told us this protects us against the irritants or micro-organisms that may be present and that’s in part due to the fact that most porous toys will leach oil and oil destroys latex (the most commonly used condom type). While my recommendation to use polyurethane condoms still comes with a heavy caveat and uncertainty, I feel it’s got a slightly better chance at doing what we think it might do. However, maybe not. Until there are studies on this I don’t feel comfortable recommending it as a safety measure.

I also talked about the various definitions of body-safe, and I’ve written about it a little more extensively here.  For many more articles related to sex toy materials, visit the Toxic Toy landing page.

Silicone Lube and Silicone Sex Toys

At one point Kenton and I talked about how lubes affect materials; I reiterated the fact that oil doesn’t harm silicone as I’ve proven as much as is possible in an at-home experiment. I talked about how I’ve changed my stance on silicone sex toys paired with silicone lubes – definitely Not For Your Butt.

Kenton submerged some cured platinum silicone pieces in silicone lube and found that while that particular pairing didn’t “damage” the silicone toy, it certainly changed it. The toy absorbed lube and grew 20% in size and became 20% softer. This doesn’t change the porosity or how the pores react to water (they’re hydrophobic, which means no water which means no food for micro-organisms in the pores). It may create tears in the material because it’s now a little weaker than before, but you’ll see any tears quickly – they won’t stay small. Because the lube is absorbed, there won’t be lube left for your butt which is an absolute necessity for anal play. It’ll make it difficult and painful to remove the toy.

You could still use silicone lube for shorter external and vaginal use. I’ve personally never experienced lube-absorption with the Sliquid Silk hybrid lube but your mileage may vary. Check out a few of Kenton’s tweets in addition to his info in the session for more about silicone lube and silicone sex toys.

The Flame Test

We did talk a good bit about the flame test; why it’s used, how to read it, why the results were unexpected a few years ago. In short, silicone can burn and if it does catch a smoldering flame it’ll give you gray ash which is silica dust. It won’t get shiny or melt, it won’t burn like an oil lamp – all of that describes the reaction PVC and TPR will have to a flame. You’ll also usually get results sufficient enough to make a material determination in 5 seconds or less.

The flame test isn’t perfect and the inaccuracies from the early days continue to plague us with incorrect result readings but I feel confident enough with it to know what my materials really are when I do the test. I have performed the flame test enough times on known materials and received the expected results every time thus far. The flame test is really the only affordable, at-home “test” consumers can do if they doubt that a material is silicone as advertised.

We Don’t Need No Regulations

I talked about how sex toy companies can make any material claims they want, because no governing body regulates this. People are disturbed when they hear this and ask why the FDA doesn’t get involved and why I don’t want the FDA involved. The FDA wants money – a small fortune per SKU – and animal testing. The cost factors would prevent most sex toy companies from ever creating anything and would result in drastically fewer choices with vibrators always years behind on tech because FDA approvals can sometimes take years. I pointed out that the FDA has approved KY (gross) and Nonoxynol-9, a spermicide that was shown to increase STI transmission. The FDA is only concerned that the ingredients are “Generall Regarded As Safe” (GRAS list), not if they’re a known irritant. I’ve also noted in the Lube Guide that FDA-approved lubes don’t have to publish their ingredients list – so this would mean that probably the materials in the sex toy would remain a mystery, as well, and if so what is the damn point? Most companies utilize specific import/export codes to avoid being classed as a medical device and rely on the “Novelty Use Only” tags to help with this because if it is classed as a medical device, then FDA approval is required. The Novelty tag doesn’t necessarily mean that the manufacturer is setting out to deceive and harm you.

Sex Toy Myths About Silicone vs TPR

In the 2017 panel there were numerous arguments given for why they feel educators and reviewers are wrong for insisting on silicone for soft toys; the person heading up the panel was the publicist for Screaming O, a company that makes silicone and TPR sex toys. One point brought up was that nothing beats the realistic feel and the softness and the stretchiness of TPR or PVC. Nearly all mainstream penetrables/strokers are made of TPR or PVC, but Kenton pointed out a few of his products that showcase just how soft, pliable and stretchy silicone can be. The shore durometer he uses for his flogger can be stretched to 800 times it’s unstretched length. He even made a silicone penetrable stroker out of this same type of silicone. The better quality sleeves from brands like Fleshlight and Tenga are not what I would call affordable, so a large company buying silicone in bulk could in theory make comparably priced silicone masturbators. You can’t really see me pulling on the flogger in the video above but this is the de-molding video Kenton mentioned in the session for those who like hearing the satisfying sounds of silicone popping out of its mold. The stretchiness of it is fairly evident there.

They also argued price – that most of the silicone products we insist are better are not affordable to many people. Body-safe (non-porous) sex toys are becoming increasingly more affordable. I mentioned that SheVibe stocks nearly 500 body-safe sex toys, and they certainly don’t stock every body-safe sex toy on the market. I also only counted up the major categories such as clitoral, g-spot, classic, and mini vibrators; silicone and glass dildos; regular and vibrating butt plugs, prostate massagers, and anal beads. I’d counted up the number of individual models, not colors offered.

While I’ve got a comparatively small list of sex toys under $35 you can see from the count above that there are hundreds.

Other Bits and Bobs

We talked about cleaning methods a little; most of those are detailed on the Care and Cleaning guide page. You do not *need* high-priced UV sanitizing boxes to keep your silicone products safe. There are links to all the various posts about the Jar of Horrors (the TPR and PVC jar) on the Toxic Toys page, and this is the link to the post about the silicone jar.

I think I’ve covered everything here? If not, let me know! Have questions that didn’t get asked? Ask em here, we’ll do our best.

Mar 032018
 

Definition:: what is a body-safe sex toy?Toxic. Non-porous. Body-safe. Skin-safe. Non-toxic. These are all terms you will see used to define sex toy materials. Toxic, non-toxic, and non-porous are all pretty self-explanatory terms but we’ll go over them here. The term that seems up for debate is body-safe, so today I’m going to give you various answers on what a body-safe sex toy is.

But, let’s start by talking about the other, more easily defined terms, before we define a body-safe sex toy.

Toxic Sex Toys

The topic of toxic toys is one this blog is familiar with; I have a whole page dedicated to the ins and outs. When you get down to the nitty-gritty of language, though, you may wonder if “toxic” is accurate. Toxic, by definition, means “containing poisonous substances” or “containing or being poisonous material especially when capable of causing serious injury or death

While there are no cases of a sex toy material killing someone we do know that some sex toys contain phthalates, a chemical that can do bad things to the body. The occurance of phthalates in sex toys is sharply declining, thankfully, as evidenced by recent lab tests. One or two uses won’t likely hurt you, and sex toys are not the only place to find phthalates but they’re a thing you can control and avoid.

We’ve also seen the presence of heavy metals, like Cadmium which is dangerous, but this is rare. We may see irritants, such as chlorine, which may cause a burn or rash on your skin. But the chances of a sex toy truly being “toxic” to the point of serious illness? We don’t know. After all, no one is subjecting mice to a Basix dildo and observing them.

The lab tests on sex toys have largely been performed on the more well-known brands but the market is flooding, unchecked, on sites like Groupon, Amazon, Ebay and AliExpress. Brands come and go and they are usually not the focus of testing. These are the brands I am most skeptical of; they are white label brands usually (another definition post to come on that) and their manufacturing isn’t watched with a careful eye like the more major brands.

Because the sex toy industry is much less regulated the chemicals in sex toy materials are not monitored by any governing body. Packaging can say whatever the company wants it to say with no regard for the truth. As consumers become more savvy and bloggers educate more, I feel we’re seeing fewer companies lie on packaging but it certainly still happens.

There are a few things we know to be true, though: You’ll never find phthalates in silicone or hard materials. Due to the nature of the material you don’t find phthalates in TPR/TPE but you may in latex rubber or PVC. PVC/Vinyl can contain high levels of chlorine, while TPR/TPE has been shown to be free of harmful and irritating chemicals. Visually, it can be hard to tell the difference between a TPR and PVC – your nose may know, but all soft sex toy materials (even silicone) can have a bad chemical odor due to manufacturing chemicals not being removed before the toy is sealed up in packaging.

Non-Toxic Definition

Non-toxic is a definition I use for materials that are porous but are either very unlikely to contain harmful or irritating chemicals or the company claims they are free from harmful or irritating chemicals. TPR/TPE and various trademarked “flesh” like materials will fall in this category – such as masturbators like Fleshlight and Tenga. PVC that claims to be phthalates-free could begrudingly go in this category if we’re feeling charitable or have repeatedly seen that the brand never fails on lab tests. 

Unfortunately, as noted above, it can often be hard to tell the difference between PVC and TPR/TPE. Both can be jelly-like and clear, or completely opaque. I am more wary of this difficulty telling the difference when you’re relying on white-label brands direct from the Chinese manufacturing plant than of major name brands carried at most retailers.

Non-toxic, porous sex toy materials may not ever harm your body in the ways a toxic toy can – they are unlikely to cause a rash or chemical burn, for example. They will, over time, become a happy home to bacteria and yeast because these materials can only be cleaned on the surface – the same can be said for toxic toys because they are also porous. Their pores will always freely feed bacterial colonies and encourage them to thrive. The material is not chemically stable and will break down over time. It will happen slowly if left on its own: it’ll sweat an oily substance, lose it’s coloring, or take on coloring from anal use or simply the place it’s being stored. It will happen rapidly if stored in a place that gets hotter than body temperature or if two porous toys are stored touching each other.

Non-toxic, porous sex toys can also potentially cause vaginal infections in some people.

Skin-Safe Definition

I’ve only seen this term used by a few retailers, namely Lovehoney (and anybody setting up their site who copies Lovehoney). My best guess is they use this term as a nicer way of describing materials that are porous yet claim to be non-toxic.

Why “Skin safe” and not body-safe or, more accurately, non-toxic? Perhaps even they recognize that “body-safe” is a higher level of quality yet they still want to give you a false sense of security. Given all the issues that can happen with porous materials I would never call them “skin safe”.  PVC without phthalates is non-toxic but could burn your skin from chlorine…that doesn’t sound “safe”.

Body-Safe Sex Toy Definitions

Like “skin safe”, some retailers and manufacturers use “body safe” as a blanket term for anything that is merely non-toxic. The issues with porous sex toys, like repeated vaginal infections, won’t happen for everyone. If you replace the porous material after 4-6 months and take very good care of it1 then you may never have to worry about shoving a bacterial colony of squigglies in your body. These exceptions, maybes and loopholes mean that, to some, TPR/TPE and similarly named products (elastomer, for example) are “body-safe”.

I don’t consider microbial stowayas “body-safe” but, unless you’re a microbiologist, you won’t know the bacteria and yeast there. They could be. I’ve heard of people giving themselves repeated yeast infections because of the microbes in the toy; I’ve heard of people feeling like they’ve had food poisioning after using a porous sex toy anally.

While many retailers will push you towards sex toy cleaners for the porous materials, I don’t recommend it. The chemicals from the cleaner could potentially stick around in the pores. Do we know this to be 100% fact? No. Again, a lack of specific medical studies but enough people who know more about

To most bloggers, educators, and retailers, though, a body-safe sex toy is something that is both non-toxic and non-porous.

The Exceptions to Body-Safe Sex Toy Materials

Taken a step further a body-safe sex toy means being certain that the metal alloys in metal toys are considered surgical-grade or marine-grade, like njoy’s 316 grade stainless steel or Crowned Jewels’ body-safe aluminum and titanium. Good stainless steel shouldn’t be highly magnetic. It also means that the glass has not been painted and non-toxic pigments in frit are the only pigments used. It means that the wood has been sealed with food-grade sealant (or medical-grade) that will not wash away. It means that only non-toxic food-grade pigments are used in ABS plastic or silicone.

The tricky part, then, is knowing the answers to those exceptions for every brand you buy. You can get to a safe and trusting place by only buying from brands endorsed by sex toy reviewers, sold by trustworthy retailers also endorsed by sex toy reviewers. I am always very wary of recommending unknown brands of metal sex toys especially if the brands are only found on sites like Amazon, AliExpress, and so on; I can also tell you that you are very unlikely to get a body-safe metal butt plug for under $25 – especially the jeweled kind.

I’ve given you the tools to know more about the safety of your glass sex toys but there are no easy, fool-proof home tests yet for metal. Wood sex toys are usually easier because, for the most part, manufacturers/crafters know what they’re putting on the wood as a sealant and are up front about this. This article talks about the sealants you should avoid. You can try your hand at flame-testing to determine if something is silicone or not – not all PVC and TPR looks like “jelly” so at first glance you may be unable to tell visually.

 

A body-safe sex toy doesn’t have to be expensive, either. Buy from a trusted retailer – not Amazon, AliExpress, Groupon, Ebay – and you can find many options to fit your budget. You can’t find many body-safe sex toys under $10, for example, but you can find hundreds under $35. I want you to have the best, safest experience possible and that starts by knowing your materials, the risks, and how to shop.

 

 

  1. clean it immediately before and after use with a mild soap, let it air-dry 100% before storing it in a dark environment, storing it by itself in unbleached cotton bags/wrapping
Oct 072014
 

Tenga Iroha MikazukiFor as much as I love the Tenga Iroha Minamo, I’m underwhelmed by the Iroha Mikazuki. The Iroha Minamo arrived first on my doorstep; I was so excited about it and liked it so much that I asked Tenga if I could review both. I wanted to be certain that I could recommend them interchangeably. I’m so glad I did because I am more reluctant to recommend the Mikazuki.

My first Iroha vibe was the Iroha Midori. I had expected a lot more squish and give than I experienced with the Midori and felt a bit let down but it all. The Minamo delivered on that squish, and how. But the Iroha Mikazuki goes back to being barely squishy. The tip is very squishy, like Vixskin heads, and this continues for about the first inch because there’s no plastic body underneath, it’s simply all soft material. But after that first inch it’s just not as soft. However, the Mikazuki is thinner than the Minamo and still could be a decent insertable vibe for those who are very new to penetration or have vaginismus. The slender shape starts out very slim, 0.75″ wide and gradually enlarges to a max width of 1.25″ at about 4.5″ of insertable length, or just below the buttons.

The color is hard to pinpoint, and photograph. The yellow is just a bit more yellow than it appeared onscreen to me. It’s not quite a banana yellow. It’s maybe a tad bit more than butter yellow. It perfectly matches the color of raw sweet bi-color corn on the cob. Yet in certain lighting it’s just….not an appealing yellow. I super appreciate this color deviation, but I foresee a lot of people possibly passing this up because of the less-than-popular color. Tenga is definitely one company totally ignoring the American gendering of colors, though, I’ll give em that. They’re also bucking the marketing standpoint. I’ve been told by more than one company that orange and yellow barely sell in sex toys.

The Iroha Mikazuki is very much like the Minamo in most ways; the charging, the vibration strength, the feel of the silicone skin, it’s waterproof, and flexible-ish. For some reason I thought at first that the Mikazuki would be a little *more* flexible than the Minamo, but it’s not. It’s the same, which is to say….not a whole lot. It’s nowhere NEAR as flexible as the photos from Iroha show on Shevibe

Tenga Iroha Mikazuki vs Minamo

All in all, my relative meh-ness on the Iroha Mikazuki can be attributed directly to the level of squish. If it had just a tiny bit more squish all over, then I would love it a lot more. The way it currently is, though, is underwhelming. I think the slender size and silkiness of the silicone is still great for the newbies, those who’ve not experienced vaginal penetration, those with medical issues and so on…..and of course the tip is very squishy, which could make for a very pleasant and comfortable clitoral/vulva vibrator. But for those who really want the comfort and forgiveness of soft and squish for an insertable vibe? I really need to recommend Minamo, instead. It might be slightly bigger, but that extra tiny amount of girth is all super-soft squish. .

 

I was give the Mikazuki in exchange for my honest review, courtesy of Tenga Iroha. You can find the Iroha Mikazuki at my favorite retailer, SheVibe.

Sep 302014
 

Tenga Iroha MinamoTenga asked me to review their new insertable line, the Iroha Minamo and Iroha Mikazuki, the sisters to Tenga Iroha’s original debut trio of “soft touch” clitoral vibes, the Midori, Yuki and Sakura. This is one of those times where a reviewer needs to be objective and look beyond their own preferences. The Iroha Minamo is not something that I personally would be drawn to, but I have had many people ask about a gentle, soft, pliable silicone vibrator. A number of people with vaginas dislike silicone vibrators because too often they’re a hard plastic vibe with a silicone skin over top, and so they choose porous/toxic toys like those made of TPR and jelly because it’s soft enough for them.

Both the Iroha Minamo and Iroha Mikazuki are small and best suited for people who need something slender, something with “give”, something they would describe as “soft and gentle”. The tip has the marshmallow-y plushness that I found myself wishing the Midori had. It’s truly a comfortable vibrator. The vibrations are probably the most intense about an inch and a half back from the tip (at the first “wave” spot). Minamo technically is thicker than Mizaku (review coming Thursday!) but I think it’s only because there’s more plushness – Mikazuki has less squish. These “ocean waves” in the design of the Iroha Minamo are pure squish. There’s squish along the “top” side too, just not quite as much. This is one sex toy that you will want to keep on your desk just to squish and squoosh. 

How is the Minamo so Squishy?

Like the first Iroha vibes, Minamo is covered with a plucky, pliable silicone skin with a polyurethane elastomer underneath. Just like with the Midori, there is an odor (reminds me of latex wall paint) when you first open the packaging, but I left the vibes out for a few days and it mostly dissipated. I don’t have any problems recommending this material combination in terms of safety. Silicone is indeed non-porous, but it’s not impermeable especially to odors. The silicone skin completely covers the elastomer underneath, making this a very body-safe product. I know that the odor can be alarming at first, as we’re told that silicone (vs the cheap, stinky materials like jelly and PVC) is odorless. And it is, on its own. Regardless, the strong smell of the polyurethane elastomer doesn’t last very long at all; it would only bother those absolutely very sensitive to smell. The silicone skin isn’t tight on the vibrator, either, because there’s a weird little joint in the plastic body of the vibe about 2/3 of the way back from the tip which makes the body slightly flexible. I expected it to be flexible like the Je Joue g-ki, I suppose, but it’s not. It’s subtle, and would only really serve to move with your body rather than form a curve that stays put.

The Important Part – Vibrations

It’s a vibrator, so let’s get to the important bit: The vibrations aren’t going to knock your socks off if you need something considerably “more”, but they’re also much better than standard surface-buzzy / weak vibrators. Is it “enough” for me? No. Definitely not as an insertable; borderline as a clitoral vibrator. I would rank it as less powerful than the Lelo Mona 2; maybe about the strength of the original Mona? It’s not rumbly enough for me to compare it to the We-Vibe Tango on any setting. I’d say (from memory) it’s almost as strong as the Eroscillator Plus. The vibrations are definitely noticeable, and will be powerful enough for many folks. 

Is the Iroha Minamo Right for You?

If you could use a little bit of help from a vibrator to get off, you’d like Iroha Minamo. If you’ve never experienced PIV sex or insertable sex toys, you’d do well to start off with Minamo. If you have vaginismus, Minamo is your jam. The tapered size starts out at the tip with an extremely pliable 7/8″ of an inch. At the first “wave” its 1″ wide, then another fraction of an inch, and at the last wave it’s 1 1/8″. The squish, oh the squish. You can apply pressure, but it’s gentle pressure. If your clitoris is sensitive and likes pressure that is easier to control and less likely to bruise? Minamo! It’s a great, versatile vibrator and I’d recommend it for even clitoral use over the little Irohas. It’s because of the design that I love Minamo…..for others, not myself. I’m excited to be able to have something to recommend to those who need something like this.  

Tenga Iroha Minamo

Specs, Deets, and Blahblahblah

The silicone is completely dust/fur repellent. nothing sticks to it. And unlike the first Irohas, the Minamo is waterproof and submersible. The Iroha Minamo is not an anal safe toy, please do not use it as such. The charging process is very discreet, as well. It reminds me a bit of one of the JJ Form 6 iterations. There is a black plastic box, and the USB plug goes on the outside of the box. There is a depression in the box for the vibe to sit and magnetic prongs. I’ve never had a problem yet getting the Minamo to settle into its charging base properly. With a little effort, you can roll up the charging cable and store it inside the black box with the Minamo, for travel. From what I can tell, Minamo is only offered in blue, which is a very pastel blue – my photos aren’t accurate on the color, no matter how hard I tried. I like the Iroha Minamo for what it is, and I hope others do, too. The price is a bit higher than I would like (currently it’s $119.99 at SheVibe) but it is a quality product, and unique.

 

I was give the Minamo in exchange for my honest review, courtesy of Tenga Iroha. You can find the Iroha Minamo at my favorite retailer, SheVibe. 

Aug 122014
 

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

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

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

How to Tell TPR from Silicone

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

ScreamingO

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

The Confirmation – TPR Cannot be Blended

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

Aug 012014
 

SedeuxFlareI wanted to review the Sportsheets Sedeux Flare Dildo for two reasons:

1. It’s affordable

2. It’s not fleshtone, pink or purple.

Lofty goals, right? Also, it’s really the opposite of many dildos I’ve reviewed in the past – it’s simple and small. I can’t, and shouldn’t, always review only the things that my vagina loves (if I did that, I would have just stopped at the Pure Wand years ago) but the problem with trying to give a review that’s equal parts objective and subjective on a dildo that is a size I would never love…..well, it’s damn difficult. So I’ve been dragging my feet on writing this, because I don’t hate it and yet I don’t personally love it. But I WILL recommend the hell out of it for the many people who want a smaller dildo. This would be awesome for pegging, and great for vaginal penetration for those who don’t like thick dildos.  It’s only 1.25″ at the head, and closer to 1″ in the shaft.

It’s reasonable to say that the color of your Sedeux Flare might vary from piece to piece. The overall color is a brick/slightly orange-y red, with hints of purple-y opalescent glitter swirling about. The glittery-purple-pearl is much less noticeable on mine than the product photos I’ve seen on various sites. In fact many product photos on retail sites show that the pearlescent coloring is both pink/purple and orange.  But regardless, it’s still a color choice that isn’t horribly gendered and isn’t very common. Mine has much less “fire” to the coloring but it’s still a nice addition, nonetheless.

SedeuxFlareandSilkMedium

The dildo I own that is the closest in shape and size to the Flare is the Tantus Silk Medium. The Tantus Silk Medium is listed as 5.25″ long and 1″ wide, while the Sedeux Flare is listed as being 5.75″ long and 1.25″ wide (this measurement comes from the manufacturer; Lovehoney lists it a bit differently for some reason). The slightly angled tip is a bit wider than the shaft; so if you like the Silk Medium but need something a little less straight, the Sedeux Flare would be a perfect choice.

The gentle slope of the head means it should be okay for those sensitive to certain shapes catching their pubic bone, and overall it should be great for those who don’t require girth or extreme pressure on their g-spot. Overall it’s a pretty firm silicone, but the thinner shaft means it has a bit of bend and give while still being firm enough overall to give pressure to the prostate or g-spot. I’ve successfully used Wet Hybrid lube on this, with no detriment to the silicone. You can also pair it with coconut oil if you’re not otherwise using condoms. It can be sanitized in the usual ways.  In short, this is really a very serviceable moderate dildo that’s versatile and comes in a unique color.  So long as you know what you like and need in terms of size, I can’t really find any flaws with the Sportsheets Sedeux Flare. So why don’t I love it? I can’t fully blame it on the width, because the Pure Wand is awesome for me and it’s not what I’d consider a girthy dildo. It’s really down to the length for me. I just simply need something longer – not for insertion, but just for comfortable handling and use with my body type. It’s a great harness dildo, though, and would look smashing paired with a certain Tantus harness.

 

 

Thanks to Lovehoney for sending me the Sedeux Flare in exchange for my honest review! Don’t forget, Lovehoney has a great return policy and UK shoppers can get the Sedeux Flare here