By: Dani Kessel
[Warning: Mature content ahead. Read at your own discretion.]
Between body-safe materials and the plethora of designs, many people are uneducated on what to be aware of when buying sex toys. Not all toys are made equal. Some lubes interact negatively with toy/condom materials. Others are great for external use, but they shouldn’t be used internally. Then there are questions of whether to buy clitoral or vaginal or anal or BDSM toys. Whether you’re a novice or experienced shopper, there are some important things you should know when considering buying a new toy. Here are some answers to your most pressing questions.
How do I choose a toy?
Sex toys come in a thousand or more different designs. When deciding on a toy to purchase, you should first consider what specific pleasure you’re seeking, what body parts you will be using it on, and whether you will be using it individually or on a partner. Once you have an idea of your goals, you’re ready to start narrowing down your options. Most people with a clitoris, 70% to be specific, need clitoral stimulation to orgasm, so that might be a good option if you have that genitalia. Any toys that will be used anally should have a flared base. If you are looking into BDSM toys like nipple clamps, floggers, restraints, etc., make sure that you do your research first. These toys can provide great pleasure, but can be potentially dangerous if not used properly. When in doubt, go into a brick-and-mortar sex shop. Employees there will be equipped to answer your questions.
What is a body-safe material, and why does it matter?
In most countries, sex toys are not regulated by any government agencies. That means they can put anything on that packaging, whether true or not, and nobody will be the wiser. Because of this, many sex toys are not body-safe.
Non-body-safe materials are porous and potentially release phthalates into the body. Porous toys will trap bacteria and dirt in them which increases the chance of infections. No amount of washing will get rid of the bacteria with these toys. Phthalates are also used in these toys to make them softer and more flexible; however, they have been linked to cancer and infertility. Jelly toys are almost always porous with phthalates. When using these toys, always use a condom. This keeps them cleaner, safer, and prevents reinfection from previous STIs.
Body safe materials include silicone, ABS plastic, pyrex & soda lime glass (other glass should be avoided since it can break internally), metal, treated wood, and stone. All of these are non-porous and easy to clean. Rather than believing the box when it says body-safe, always make sure to look at the ingredients list.
How do I know if I’m getting a good price?
Low priced sex toys under $35-$40 which are used internally typically indicate porous, phthalate-included sex toys. This price point is reasonable for external toys like bullet vibes, restraints, and clamps. There are occasional internal toys which are body-safe at this price point, but it is crucial that you look at the ingredients if buying something inexpensive. A reasonable price point for silicone or glass internal toys is $50-$100. This usually indicates high quality and non-porous ingredients. You can also get good, simple vibrators at this price. Products over $100 usually are metal, glass, stone, or are vibrators with newer technology and design. Any toy with an app on your phone will usually fall into this price range. Overall, no matter what your budget is, there are usually sufficient toys. Just make sure to do research before buying.
How can I have sex toys as a parent?
Believe it or not, parents have sex toys too! My preferred way to keep toys away from children is keeping them organized and clean in a box, some people prefer a lock box. I keep all my toys in a black box in my closet. When needing to charge a vibrator, external batteries are a great option. Other storage options include cotton zipper bags for individual toys, pillows with zippers specifically for sex toys, on the top shelf of an unreachable cabinet, and in a suitcase. Here is a website that lists storage options based on the type of toy. Just always make sure that toys are clean and dry when put away, and use individual ziplocks for any porous toys.
Can I travel with my sex toys?
Believe it or not, yes. You can usually travel with sex toys in your carry-on. Make sure to check TSA and other government travel regulatory websites. Usually, dildos and vibrators are allowed, while many BDSM toys are considered weapons and not allowed.
What lube should I buy?
Lubricants are something I’d advise to anybody using internal sex toys, having sex of any sort, or participating in kinky foreplay.
Water-based lubes are great for sensitive skin and use with most sex toys. You need to look at the ingredients before vaginal use though because many water-based lubes utilize glycerin which can increase yeast infections in people with vaginas.
Silicone-based lubes are another popular option. They stay wet for longer and requires less lubricant. There are a few things to be aware of with this lube type though. Silicone-based lubricant should not be used with silicone toys. This can ruin the toy over time. Also, be aware that silicone-based lubes can stain sheets and take more soap to get off.
Oil-based lubes are a popular choice for sensual massages and sex toys. They stay slippery for much longer than water-based lubricant. Just make sure not to use this kind of lube with latex. Oil breaks down latex and renders the condom or toy useless. This is important with porous sex toys and penetrative sex.
Finally, make sure that thick lubricants are used when partaking in anal-play of any sort. Also, use plenty of lube since the rectum does not produce any natural lubrication. Using the right kind of lubricants can make sexual encounters, masturbation, and sex toys much more enjoyable.
How do you clean sex toys?
It is crucial that you clean your sex toys. The manner in which you clean a sex toy depends on the material of the toy. Here is a guide based on the specific materials. Make sure you do not fully submerge any vibrator or toy with a motor in water. This can break the toy. Also, do not boil porous materials. While this method works for many non-porous sex toys, porous sex toys have a lower melting point. Also, while regular soaps can be used, I recommend purchasing a sex toy soap so that soap residue does not dry on the toy. Lastly, make sure that you do not use any toy anally then vaginally without cleaning it first. This can increase the chances of a UTI.
I hope this helps guide you when shopping for sex toys. The more prepared you are for your purchase, the happier you will be with your new toy. Don’t panic if you’re still unsure. There are a ton of bloggers out there who review and discuss different sex toys. Also, if you have any more questions, leave them below and I’ll try to answer as many as I can.