Did you know that sex toys are not regulated by the government for safety? That means that manufacturers can use materials that are not always safe. This is especially of concern when you are using them on the delicate tissue of your genitals. Sex toys may include mineral oil, toxic paints or glazes, phthalates, or other chemicals that are known to cause cancer, birth defects, and hormonal changes without you realizing it. Does that mean you should be afraid or avoid buying sex toys? Not at all! You just need to inform yourself so you can make the right choice and choose a body-safe material.
Common Sex Toy Materials
Sex toys are made from many materials, including: jelly/PVC, latex rubber, silicone, TPE/TPR, glass, ceramic, hard plastic, wood, stainless steel, aluminum, and natural stone such as marble, granite, agate, and quartz. This is only a brief list, as manufacturers sometimes create a ‘new’ material and give it their own name such as CyberSkin, UR3, VixSkin, and CyberGlass.
Each material used to create toys has its own unique qualities that makes it appealing to some but not others. For example, metals and glass are hard materials, easy to sterilize, and great for temperature play, while silicone can vary in firmness, is easy to sterilize, and does not hold temperature.
What makes a material body-safe?
For a material to be body-safe, it must not contain any chemicals that could be harmful to the human body. The material could still be porous, meaning it has pores that bacteria, fungi, mildew, et cetera can build up in over time even with proper cleaning. Due to lack of regulations, dishonest companies can label products as being safe when they are actually not. This happens most commonly with jelly and PVC toys.
Jelly and PVC toys are most easily recognized by their crystal clear coloring and ‘squishy’ nature. Most people, especially first time toy owners, will buy these products due to their low prices, attractive colors, and soft material, not realizing how dangerous they are to the body. These toys are actually made from plastics that have been softened with chemicals, most commonly phthalates, which has been linked to cancer, birth defects, hormonal changes, and chemical burns.
What about porous toys?
A material is porous if it has holes (pores) large enough for bacteria, fungi, mildew, et cetera to get trapped in. These organisms then multiply, making it possible for you to get an infection the next time you use the product, especially if it was not properly cleaned before or after use. You cannot sterilize porous to safely share them between partners safely; you should always use a condom on porous toys when sharing them with a partner. Even if the material is properly cared for, the organisms can still grow to levels that can cause infection after a few months. As a general rule, you should dispose of porous toys every 6-12 months. If the toy develops an unpleasant odor or visible changes such as dark spots or a change in color, you should discard it immediately.
Materials that are known to be porous are PVC, jelly, rubber, TPE/TPR, CyberSkin, and UR3. You should thoroughly check any porous material for cleanliness before each use to prevent infections. To extend the life of the material, it should be cleaned both before and after use.
Though the better materials are more expensive, the fact that they last longer and are safer for your body make them well worth the cost. Since each material has its own benefits, researching both the material and the product you are looking at buying will help you find the best product for you. Below is a list of common materials and where they rank on safety.
A Quick Guide to Materials
Nonporous Body-Safe Materials:
- Medical Grade Silicone aka Platinum Silicone
- ABS Plastic
- Stainless Steel
- Wood (This depends on the glaze.)
- Ceramic (This depends on the glaze.)
Body-Safe, but Porous, Materials:
It is important to pick toys that will keep your body as safe as possible. There are options out there designed with your health in mind. Be an informed buyer, demand quality, and spend your money on toys and with companies that care about your health. Cheers to body-safe toys!