This entry was posted in Sex-education-al! on July 17, 2013 by one of my favorites sex blogs
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This is a “why you should care” post as well as a resource- if you scroll down, there are actually lists of manufacturers I trust and what sorts of products they have listed and explained. Please feel free to use this guide to inform your choice for your next sex toy, and also feel free to ask me questions about anything mentioned in this post.
Anyone who pays attention knows that the adult industry isn’t regulated and companies can do essentially anything they want. If you haven’t been paying attention: the adult industry isn’t regulated, and companies can do essentially whatever they want. What this means is that companies can use materials that may or may not be incredibly bad for your health1. They can use ingredients that may be damaging tissues in some of the most sensitive parts of your body2. They can lie about the materials they use or what a product is even for, and they can tell sell you a product as doing something that, design wise, it is just not meant for3.
Thankfully, there are more and more manufacturers, retailers, individuals, sex educators, and even non-profits taking all of these issues seriously, and trying to spread the word about them. Even though the movement is growing, it’s still miniscule in comparison to the mainstream adult novelty industry, and it’s going to take time before this information is more well known. The shame that many people have regarding their sex life and use of sex toys does not help, and that’s something I’m trying to fight against through sex education. Ignorance = Fear = Shame + Stigma, and the more we educate people on these issues and others, the more hope I have that people will start making better choices for themselves.
What You Can Do
Educate yourself. Pure and simple. The more you know about sex toys, the less likely you are to have to deal with the negative side effects of bad sex toys made out of bad materials4.
Once you learn about sex toy safety (proper shapes, bad materials, bad ingredients,etc) share that information. Seriously. Whether you’re talking to friends, relatives, strangers, or the internet, bring it up whenever the situation calls for it and sometimes even when it doesn’t call for it. Some people might be weird about it5, but realize that sometimes talking about these sorts of things can save people from a really unpleasant reaction, a trip to an emergency room, or possible illness.
Shop from reputable companies. Because the industry isn’t regulated, companies can say whatever they want on their packaging. They can claim something is phthalate free when it isn’t 6 . They can claim something is silicone, when it isn’t. They can basically do anything up to the point of claiming the product can cure or treat an illness or health problem. However, there are some companies that I’ve come to know and trust- I don’t have doubts about the quality of their products or how truthful they are about what you’re getting.
“I want to have a safe toybox. Now what?!”
If you’ve decided to make the shift, that’s a pretty good start. While some of us can just recycle7 our old sex toys and replace everything with ease, many of us do not have the financial ability to do this, and I understand that. If you already have sex toys and think some of them may be unsafe, it’s ok. There are things you can do while you’re in the process of transitioning.
Sex Toys: dildos, vibrators, cock rings, whatever they are take a look at them. Do you know for sure what material they’re made out of? No? For all toys that fit the description of jelly rubber8, you want to keep it from coming in contact with your skin. Even if you’re already using it and haven’t been having problems, it’s still bad for you; if you can’t get rid of it right away you can use a condom for internal parts and cover your bits with plastic wrap or a dental dam9 for any external action.
Lubricants: Check ingredient labels for anything with the word Paraben in it10 or the ingredient Glycerin. These two ingredients are some of the most common offenders in lubricants- Parabens are shelf stabilizers that pose a possible risk to reproductive health and are found in everything from mascara to shampoo- many people form an allergy after being exposed to small amounts of parabens over time, which anyone who lives with modern conveniences like shampoo, soap, toothpaste, deodorant, and more is experiencing unless they are particularly vigilant about finding products without parabens. Glycerin is a cheap filler that adds slipperiness to a product, and there are a few different things that it could possibly be doing to harm you, but it is at the very least a sign of a low quality product. Lubricants that contain glycerine are the ones that generally get sticky and dry up faster, and can be dehydrating and irritating to your skin. If your lube has either of these ingredients, chuck it- there’s nothing you can do aside from using a different lubricant to avoid the issues these ingredients can bring upon you.
Feel free to contact me with any questions you have about a sex toy or lubricant you already own- I can generally let you know if it’s something you should trust or side-eye. If I’m unfamiliar with the product or company, I am at the very least familiar with sex toy materials and lubricants enough in general to be able to help you.
“OK, I’m ready to get some new things for my toybox. What won’t harm me if I use it?”
Now we get to the good part. Below you’ll find a list of all the manufacturers and companies I trust: The ones that aren’t lying. The ones that uphold the truth and the safety of your body. Some of them are even heavily involved in education about toxic and unsafe toys. There are a few big name “body safe” companies missing from this list; this is because for one reason or another, I do not trust these companies. I can clarify privately if you’re interested, and will add them to this list if my concerns are dismissed. I’ll be doing individual features of each company when I do my materials features, and I’ll link those here.
In the meantime, reference this list if you want to find something sexysafe11. I’ve broken things down into materials or ingredients, but note that I have not included any non-porous sex toy materials. This is because porous materials are too risky at this point; most contain phthalates and can lie about their phthalate content; porous materials also break down faster and harbor dirt and bacteria. Non-porous materials are easy to clean, sterilizable, and last much, much longer- though they can be more expensive, they are an investment in a high quality toy that won’t harm your body in any way and will last.
Silicone, the softest of non-porous sex toy materials, silicone is found in a variety of firmnesses from very soft to very hard, sometimes in combination. This material can be boiled to be sterilized if the toy is non-electronic, or you can use an antibacterial soap without fragrances or dyes ((fragrances and dyes in soaps can be irritating to the sensitive tissues in your bits)) or, if they are not electronic or you can remove electronic components, they can be soaked in a 1:10 bleach to water solution and rinsed.
Tantus, Inc. makes some of the best products around and the entire company- offices, warehouse, and factory- are all located in Nevada. Metis Black, the CEO and Founder of Tantus, is really serious about body safety and is a big influence in the movement towards safer sex toy materials. You’ll find dildos, strap-ins, butt plugs, cock rings, all sorts of vibrators, and more made by this fantastic company! You’ll notice that all of their electronic toys use a bullet for their vibration- this is so you can remove the electronic components and safely boil them for sterilization. I’d highly suggest their Closeout and Grab Bag sections if you’re looking for safe fun on a budget.
Happy Valley / Fuze Silicone is located in Canada, and is another package deal; all of their products are made on-site; here you’ll find high quality silicone strap-ins, dildos, butt plugs, and vibrators. The fuze dildos are made for strap-ons and are meant to be stimulating if a person with a clitoris is strapping them on, which I find interesting. Review eminent!
Vixen Creations: Vixen is another US manufacturer; they have high quality silicone toys and are most well known for their “vix-skin” dual-density dildos, which have a firm core but a plushy soft exterior. They have a variety of styles- from very realistic to non-realistic. There are more of these products on the market now, but Vixen has the original and most well known dual density products.
Vamp Silicone is another smaller US-based manufacturer, Vamp has a variety of awesome toys, including dual-density dildos and anal toys. They’re fantastic if you want a glittery cock, or really want your dick to be marbled and gorgeous. They also have one of the most awesome dildos for strap-on use: the angle of the Talula means that it is held erect and ready to go in your favorite harness.
Fun Factory is one of the larger producers of vibrating and pulsating sex toys on the market currently, but unlike many of the other big deal silicone producers, they’re have a completely in-house operation located in Germany. Their toys range from revolutionary to cutesy and kind of weird ((it’s staring at me)), but all are very high quality and also much softer than most other silicone vibrators on the market: where other companies like Je Joue have a hard plastic interior with a thin coating of silicone, the Fun Factory vibrators have a thick, plush covering of squishy silicone. This does, however, make the vibrations a little less strong than they would be otherwise, but if you prize squish over strength, these are for you.
Je Joue is another of the bigger luxury silicone vibrator companies out there. Operated out of Canada (I am unsure of location of manufacture, but it is likely China), Je Joue has a small line of beautiful, minimalistic, classy vibes- their shape makes me think of modern art, which leaves me feeling a little weird about them, but that’s a personal thing12. Despite this, I do appreciate the quality- these products use magnets to charge, which makes them completely waterproof. They’re strong, and the designs are interesting. If you want a classy vibe, these are definitely my recommendation.
We Vibe, the Canadian manufacturers of a small range of well-made silicone and ABS hard plastic sex toys, most well known for their “We Vibe” 2 and 3- these silicone encased “couple’s toys” are some of the most popular designs currently on the market. Designed to target the g-spot and clitoris simultaneously and able to be worn during penetrative intercourse, I think it’s easy to see why they’re so popular. Their other products are also pretty awesome, if you ask me. I’m a big fan of the We-Vibe Touch, which is my new favorite vibrator. You’ll get a review about it and other we-vibe products soon enough.
Whipspider Rubberworks The products made by this 3-person collective operating out of Maine are fantastic- and dare I say it, whimsical. Need an Easter Island Moai in your butt? Got you covered. Do you really want a jellyfish in your orifices, but are worried about the stingers? One Jellyfish, coming right up. You can also find unicorn horns and tentacles amongst their ranks, and more!
BS is Nice BS is another really small company working our of Madrid, Spain. Their hallmarks are bright color blocks and bold lines, resulting in simplistic, beautiful, and functional art. Their dildos, harnesses, butt plugs, dilators, and even a new strap-in design are of incredibly high quality, and the people who work there are fantastic!
Babes’n’Horny yet another small company (I believe there are only 3 staff members) working out of London, yet more high quality, unique products. Babes carries a variety of well-made and eye-catching harnesses, thigh harnesses, and restraints to be used in tandem with their fabulous dildos with their bright mod aesthetic. They have everything from the very unrealistic to the incredibly realistic in terms of dildos as well as silicone cock rings and anal toys. I’d recommend their “Babes Value” Section if you’re on a budget, and don’t care much about color.
Divine Interventions a one-person operation out of California, these awesome silicone toys are great for those who want to get to know their toys…. biblically. Baby Jesus Butt Plugs, Holy Water Lube, Satan, and various other toys with christian, buddhist, and hindu themes guarantee that you’ll get your one way ticket to the inferno having a great time.
B Swish On the cheaper side as far as silicone vibrators go, these toys are great for someone looking for awesome, body safe products on a budget. They won’t last or perform as well as a luxury vibrator will, but it definitely won’t harm you and will work better than your typical adult store vibrator. They’re a great introduction to the work of body safe sex toys.
Tenga / Iroha Iroha are a new line made by the same company that makes awesome, hi-tech masturbatory aids- Tenga. The new Iroha are their first foray into products for women, and are made of very squishy soft silicone. While pricey-er, these fabulous Japanese-made products are great if you don’t want something that’s super girly, works well, and has a cool magnet-recharging system that’s also a storage case. Read my review [here].
Laid Norway This Norwegian company makes awesome non-vibrating products out of smooth, matte silicone: cock rings, dildos, and now magnetic kegel balls are all available through this awesome company. You should also check out their metal and stone products!
Bad Dragon Here’s another company that’s an all-in-one deal. Operating out of Arizona, all of their products are thought up, designed, and made on-site. These are unique because each design usually comes in 3-4 sizes and can be made in 3 different firmnesses of silicone, from very squishy to firm but still with some give. They come with a lot of color options and you can even request a custom coloration, and many can be customized with a “cum tube” or suction cup- each product is made to order, unless you get a pre-made. Did I mention that they’re dragons? The cast of characters each product is trying to emulate includes dragons, cockatrices, dogs, horses, and more. Although this specific niche isn’t for everyone including myself, the customizability makes them great products. You don’t have to fantasize about a dragon fucking you when you use one, you can just appreciate an awesomely textured dildo. I’ve reviewed a few of their products, and have another review coming your way soon.
Aneros makes the prostate massagers on the market. They’re some of the originals, and their products are crafted with comfort and anatomy in mind. They also make kegel exercisers and weighted plugs that are great for PC exercise and training your body to be more accustomed to anal penetration. They make products that are ABS Hard Plastic, Metal, and Silicone coated!
ABS Hard Plastic: A non-porous hard plastic; hard plastic can still be porous and therefor hold dirt and bacteria. These cannot be boiled to be sterilized, but you can use the other methods mentioned above.
B Swish All you need to know about this company is mentioned above in the silicone section! Some of their products are made exclusively on ABS, and most silicone products have ABS detailing.
Tenga /Iroha As mentioned, Tenga makes awesome male masturbators and now awesome vibrators- many of these have ABS parts. The Tenga Flipholes, for example, use ABS on the exterior of their product, and the control panel of the Iroha is also made of ABS hard plastic.
Fun Factory Most of these products use ABS in conjunction with silicone- in their handles, or as the base material for things like the Smart Balls.
We Vibe as mentioned above, We-Vibe makes awesome silicone products, but their ABS Salsa and Tango rechargeable bullet vibes are a must in any serious collection- they are the strongest small vibrators on the market, and can be used in most bullet sleeves- they fit Tantus and Fuze silicone, for sure (I’ve tried). Inserted into a toy, these will make it vibrate better than most vibrators with incorporated electronics. Review soon!
Glass: This can mean soda lime glass, or more commonly, borosilicate or pyrex. Borosilicate is lighter than soda lime and can also withstand more dramatic temperature changes and more extreme temperatures. Both can be used for temperature play: let the toy sit in cold or warm water, but make sure it isn’t so hot or cold as to be uncomfortable to your hand.
Crystal Delights A fantastic small company owned and operated in New Hampshire, I highly recommend these quality products to glass collectors and those curious about glass as well. They have butt plugs with pretty crystals in the base, textured wands, textured butt plugs, and even some awesome fantasy products, including fox tail and bunny tail attachments for their special magnetic plugs, in a variety of colors. I’ve reviewed their small plug! Well my partner did, anyway…
Pyrexions while this one-person company isn’t as active as it used to be, they’re still making awesome glass sex toys and will take custom orders. Some of the glass work is amazing, I’d suggest finding them on facebook and instagram!
Fucking Sculptures is a small glass artist making glass art you can fuck; they have five different styles, but each individual piece is unique. These are beautiful, well made soda lime toys that are hand made, one by one.
Specially Treated Wood: These wooden sex toys are sealed with a special coating that makes them non-porous and also smooths over any lumps and bumps. The coating also keeps splinters at bay- no one wants splinters in their bits! These toys are great because they offer a completely different experience; since they’re wood, they’re often very light and hold body heat in an interesting way. They’re also gorgeous!
Nobessence the most well known and trusted makers of wooden sex toys, and for good reason. They cover their beautiful wood wands, prostate massagers, whips, and cock rings with a patented, non-porous and body safe sealant that makes them super smooth to the touch and beautiful to the eye.
Penetralia This company seems to have stopped producing or has at the very least disappeared off of social media and out of most outlets I know of to buy it from. I’m looking to see if I can find out more about this; if you know anything, shoot me an email!
Metal: Metal is another unique sensation- heavy, cold, and polished smooth, these shiny toys are often frictionless and practically glow. They are also great for temperature play, but take heed to the suggestions above. Most metal toys are Aluminum or even more commonly, Stainless Steel. I have, however, seen Gold and Silver sex toys before!
nJoy the best word to describe nJoy products is with the word “engineered”- these toys are made to do their job well, and they live up to the expectations that statement comes with. The Pure Wand is the best wand for direct G-Spot stimulation. The Pure Plugs are great, comfortable butt plugs that are sized to be suitable for beginner, intermediate, and advanced users. Did I mention that they’re beautiful?
Laid Norway as mentioned above in the silicone section, Laid Norway makes awesome products, one of which is a metal combination perineum massager and cock ring.
Stone: Stone isn’t as common of a material, but it’s certainly an interesting one.
Laid Norway The Norwegian Moonstone dildo that Laid Norway makes is incredibly gorgeous. There’s not much else I can say about it, except to tell you to go look at it.
Luz de la Riva Luz de La Riva makes a few stone products, from a volcanic ash stone g-spotting dildo to agate and red jasper ben wa balls. They’re pricey and definitely a luxury item- you can find their products at She Vibe!
Water-Based: Your typical water-based lubricants. These are compatible with any sex toy material and feel more “natural.” Water-based lubricants represent the largest variety of lubricants: generally, stimulating and flavored lubricants are water-based.
Sliquid my go-to for most lubricant needs, Sliquid has by far the largest range of body-safe lubricants on the market. They have personal, all-day moisturizers, regular and gel water-based lubricants, stimulating lubricants, and even flavored lubricants- they also have an organic line!
Good Clean Love if you like a really thick water-based lubricant but want something safe, I’d recommend Good Clean Love. They also have a few lightly flavored lubricants.
Yes Organics the thinnest of body-safe water based lubricants I’ve tried, this is definitely very close to natural lubrication in texture.
Silicone-Based: Thin, long lasting- since silicone doesn’t evaporate like water13, a little bit goes a loooooong way with silicone lubricant, and it’s not good only for dirty time. Silicone lubricants can be used to shine hair and skin, shine and condition latex clothing, and more- silicone is also the default lubricant used in condoms. These will generally only contain silicone ingredients14 and since it’s made up of molecules of silicone, cannot permeate your tissues and will not interact with your body. The only consideration here is that sometimes, silicone lubricants try to attach to silicone toys- if you have silicone toys and want to stay safe, generally just stick with water and oil based lubes. If you’re dead-set on using silicone, you can spot test to see if the lube gums up on the surface of the toy- if it does, don’t use them together.
Sliquid Sliquid Silver, all the way! Sliquid also has hybrid water/silicone based lubricants- they last longer than water, but clean up easier than a pure silicone.
Uberlube another high quality silicone lubricant- there really isn’t much more you can say!
Pjur known as one of the highest quality silicone lubricants, Pjur uses a highly concentrated formula.
Oil-Based: Oil based lubes can be kind of tricky. They are not compatible with latex or polyisoprene condoms. Oil degrades latex and polyisoprene, compromising their ability to block STIs and Pregnancy even if they aren’t broken. If you want to use oil based lube and also want to be safe, you can use polyurethane condoms like the FC2 and the male polyurethane condom trojan makes. Oil based lube is great for anal use- it’s rich and creamy, but also feels good elsewhere; “male masturbation creams” are frequently made out of oil, and if you’ve read my review of the bad dragon masturbation sleeves, you’d know that my partner loves using Yes Oil with our silicone sleeves15. The other consideration you need to have is that mineral oil based lubes are not vagina safe. I repeat, mineral oil based lubes are not vagina safe. However, plant oil based lubes are vagina friendly, and everything I’ve mentioned below is vagina-safe.
Coconu this is a new manufacturer that I’m not very familiar with yet, but their ingredients list checks out.
Plain ‘ol Coconut Oil. Really, just slather it on there.
Yes Organics my introduction to oil-based lube and a family favorite. This stuff is awesome.
I think that’s just about everything. If I missed something or someone you think should be included on this list, let me know!
Click HERE for numbered footnotes.
About the author:
Caitlin, also known as Sexational! is a sex educator and adult product reviewer- their goal is to help people make educated, informed decisions for their pleasure and health, and they believe you can never know too much. Some words that apply to Caitlin are queer, gender non-conforming, radical, and feminist of the intersectional variety (notice the comma). When Caitlin isn’t writing, they can be found drawing, arguing with someone about the benefits of silicone, taking pictures of their partner’s cat, or outside somewhere. They can be found at www.sex-ational.com and @sex_ational on Twitter.