Sex Toy Materials Guide
Nowadays sex toys are made of a huge range of materials- rubbers, silicones, plastic, wood, glass or metal…the list goes on. However, it can be tricky to know what materials are suitable for your needs and there are certain types of rubber that have been used to create sex toys in the past that are actually harmful to you.
Storing toys together can sometimes cause them to fuse together or discolour (depending on the material) so we recommend that you always store your toys in seperate bags. Even if you put them in a sock in your bedside drawer you’ll keep your toy in tip top condition for longer!
So we’ve attempted to simplify the huge list of materials into a manageable list of substances that are most commonly found in toys.
Go on most sex toy reviewer’s websites and they’ll have a post telling you about the dangers of Phthalates. Basically Phthalates are a chemical compound added to certain materials (PVC in particular) in order to make them more pliable i.e. ‘jelly-like’. Although these do a great job of making the material feel squishy and flesh-like they can have unpleasant odours and will often react in nasty ways with other materials or even your skin. The way that these Phthalates and the plastics are bonded means that over time they break down and the phthalates are released into the atmosphere.
The more exposure you have with phthalates, the greater the chance of skin irritation and other unpleasant symptoms. Although phthalates are used in a huge variety of materials that you may come into contact with on a daily basis, the intimate use of sex toys means that you should always shop for phthalate-free dildos, vibrators and toys to limit the risk of over-exposure.
Silicone, glass, ABS plastic, metal and acrylic, TPR and TPE sex toys DO NOT contain any phthalates whatsoever. However, plastic softening phthalate replacements that are not harmful are also used in the manufacture of sex toys, so ‘rubbery feel’ toys should not necessarily be discounted. If you are in any doubt, always contact us for more information. Our product descriptions will always state ‘phthalate-free’ where appropriate.
ABS is a hard, rigid and often shiny plastic that’s long-lasting, strong and smooth against the skin. Exactly the same material as Lego bricks, ABS plastic is compatible with water, silicone or oil based lubricants and is incredibly easy to clean with antibacterial soap and water or sex toy cleaner. ABS plastic is often found in bullet and lipstick style vibrators, some ben-wa balls and is often used as a material for the handle of some silicone vibrators. An example of ABS plastic is our Ultra Climax Bullet.
Silicone rubber is a tough, skin-safe, smooth and soft feeling rubber that’s incredibly resistant to high temperatures and can withstand a good deal of stress; allowing it to be flexible where necessary. Widely regarded as one of the best materials to use for sex toys, many high-end vibrators, massagers and dildos will be made of solid silicone or have a silicone coating over an ABS core. Solid silicone has more flexibility than silicone over ABS but it is purely down to personal preference as to which is ‘better’. The majority of the Lelo range of high-end vibrators features a soft and smooth silicone coating over a solid ABS core that helps to transfer the vibrations throughout the toy. Silicone is 100% skin safe, waterproof (though you should always check the details for each individual vibrator as to whether it can be submersed) and easy to clean. You should only ever use water-based lubricants with silicone toys as oil or silicone-based lubes will damage the surface of your toy.
TPE/TPR (Thermoplastic Elastomer or Thermoplastic Rubber)
Combining some of the best qualities of plastics and rubbers, TPE/TPR is available in a range of hardness and can be used in a wide variety of adult toys. TPE/TPR does not contain phthalates to soften the material so products made from this will always be phthalate-free. It also has an incredibly high tear-strength so TPE/TPR can be made very soft without the risk of the product breaking down. Although the exact unique ingredients contained within them are trademarked secrets, Fleshlight’s ‘Real Feel Superskin’ and other ‘skin-like’ materials used in male masturbators are TPE/TPR blends.
Not only found in fetish-wear, PVC comes in a range of hardness and is incredibly versatile. It can be used to make clothes, solid dildos, vibrators and is available in a huge variety of colours. PVC can contain phthalates but increasingly within the adult industry other plastic softeners are used. Always check PVC product descriptions carefully before purchase. All non-phthalate products will be carefully labelled.
Latex is a milky white fluid that’s naturally produced by some plants. It can be used in the production of some fetish clothes, latex gloves and condoms. Although latex is completely safe to use, many people are sensitive to or have a very serious allergic reaction to latex and as such are unable to use any products that contain latex. Even if you’ve never had a problem with using latex products before, if you do experience a rash, soreness, tingling or other unpleasant sensation when using a latex condom or wearing latex clothing stop using the product immediately and consult a doctor.
PU or Polyurethane coating is becoming increasingly popular within the production of sex toys. Produced as a liquid, PU is designed to be sprayed over a solid body (usually made of ABS plastic) and gives a silky outer texture that can look shiny or matte depending on the spray process. Less flexible than silicone, PU is a thin coating often found on bullet vibrators, wet-look lingerie and some dildos.
Mainly used in dildos and butt plugs, glass sex toys are made from a smooth, tough glass that is safe for use internally. The majority of glass sex toys are made from borosilicate glass which is chemically reinforced during manufacture to make it incredibly strong and resistant to breaking. Pyrex jugs or containers are made from borosilicate glass. Although glass dildos can be broken or damaged by dropping or hitting them against a hard surface, the unique formula means that they will not break into sharp shards like normal glass and will shatter into larger pieces. If you damage your glass dildo you should never attempt to use it.
One of the best parts about glass dildos is that they can be used for temperature play as the glass will take on heat or cold for an added stimulation. Try resting it in warm or ice cold water for a few minutes before play and find out for yourself!