Sex toys add excitement and spice to your bedroom activities. Not only do they increase your pleasure, but they can also strengthen the intimacy and trust between you and your partner. Of course, they’re also ideal for solo adventures. Whether you want to have fun with yourself or with someone else, you can’t just buy the first sex toy you come across without a second thought. At best, you end up with a cheap toy that breaks after one or two uses. At worst, you can experience allergic reactions, bacterial infections, and genital irritations.

How can you tell what’s safe for your sex life? We want to help you be the most informed, body-positive, body-safe sexual partner you can be!

Don’t Play Around with Porous Materials

Until relatively recently, the bulk of sex toys were all made of the same mixture of materials. Jelly-like items are popular, as is latex. Rubber is often the go-to material because it’s malleable and easy to mold. You’ve probably seen plenty of toys composed of PVC, as well. These materials show up in sex shops all over the world, both online and offline. So what’s the problem, right? Why reinvent the wheel?

The main problem with these materials is that they’re cheap. That is, of course, why people like to buy them. No one wants to spend a fortune on playthings, no matter how much pleasure they bring. Unfortunately, there are numerous downsides to using cheap materials. Jelly, latex, and rubber are soft. You might think that makes them ideal as sex toys, but softer materials tend to be porous, meaning that they have small, imperceptible holes in them. You can’t see them, but they’re there.

It’s hard to clean porous materials properly. They retain debris, dirt, skin cells, bacteria, and residue from your bedroom play. Even if you wash your toys thoroughly between use, the icky stuff still clings. As a result, you’re at risk for bacterial infections. Even worse, you may get an STI.

Another issue is that these materials often have phthalates. Phthalates are a toxic chemical. You should be aware that it can lead to a variety of health problems. Use of phthalates, especially in such an intimate way, can lead to congenital disabilities, certain types of cancer, and infertility.

Avoid Perfumes and Dyes

Jelly rubber is a popular material because it’s easy to mold it into any shape imaginable, allowing toy manufacturers to create anything from realistic-looking toys to fantastical items. Rubber doesn’t have the most pleasant smell, however, and plain jelly isn’t visually appealing. That leads to the use of synthetic perfumes to hide the scent of the material, as well as dyes to change the color.

Dyes and fragrances have no place in your sex life, and that goes for lubrication, as well. Many people are allergic to perfumes. At the very least, fragrances can cause irritation. The same is true for any dyes used. No one wants to run the risk of allowing harmful substances inside of their bodies.

Mind the Lube

Speaking of lube, let’s have a deeper conversation about it. Lubrication makes everything better. Whether you want to massage your partner for foreplay or if you want some extra slip-and-slide as you do the deed, lube comes in handy. Just like sex toys, lubrication is an intimate addition to the bedroom. Not only does it get all over your skin, but it’s smeared all over your genitalia. Why risk a bad reaction?

Skip the lubes that contain dyes and fragrances. Many lubrication products include glycerin, glycols, or parabens as well. All three substances can lead to vaginal irritation. The best option is to choose organic, body-safe lubricants that don’t rely on chemicals. These lubes feature natural plant extracts instead, and they don’t contain artificial colors, flavors, or scents.

It’s Not a Novelty

One way to avoid buying a sex toy made of unsafe materials is to check the label — but you don’t always have to check for the materials used or the chemical makeup. By and large, we know that it’s healthier to avoid sex toys that are cheaply made, even if the manufacturer passes off the savings to you. You get what you pay for, after all. Look for anything that says “for novelty use.” That’s a red flag that should send you running in the other direction. It suggests that the toy in question has never been tested for health and safety.

The Safest Sex Toys

Now that you know what to stay away from, let’s talk about what’s safe. By a large margin, silicone sex toys are the healthiest and safest pick. Silicone can be firm or soft, the material is easy to clean, and the toys themselves are of high quality. Hard plastic is another awesome option, as long as it doesn’t contain phthalates. Some people prefer stainless steel, which is both sleek and non-toxic. Others even turn to glass sex toys. Glass is a surprisingly durable material. The best part is that these materials are hypoallergenic, which decreases the risk of allergies and irritations.  They’re also non-porous, so they won’t absorb bacteria or break down over time.

Now you know how to choose body-safe sex toys to spice up your personal life. Which non-toxic material interests you the most? Let us know in the comments below!