Sex Toy Shopping Tip#1: Learn about materials sex toys are made with

vibrator-and-plastic-doll-from-hyperscholar-flickr-stream

Before most women shell out their hard-earned cash for a haircut or a fabulous dinner with even more fabulous wine, they’ve usually talked to their friends first or otherwise done their homework. For example, you’ve probably asked a friend of yours (whose hair you’ve long admired) where she gets her hair cut or colored and how much her stylist charges. And don’t even start with dinner – most likely, before you and your friends went all-out at your last chic affair, you perused online menus, asked friends for recommendations, or scanned online restaurant reviews to make sure your dinner would be well worth the cash. Yes?

Yet, given how hush-hush many women are about their self-pleasuring, there is very little sex toy advice being shared among friends. Which means that when most women go out to buy their first (or tenth) vibrator, they’re often buying a vibrator based on what fits within their budget or what they saw on Sex and the City (the latter explains the popularity of the otherwise meh Rabbit).

No longer. After my four-part series on sex toy shopping, you will be an incredibly savvy shopper.

Tip #1: Be a material girl (material savvy, that is).
Sex toy materials are even more important than materials used in fashion. After all, these materials are going in and around your most private (and sensitive!) parts. The obvious considerations mean steering clear of toys with sharp edges that might accidentally cause genital cuts or tears. The less obvious considerations have to do with the materials themselves. Unfortunately, many toys are made of potentially toxic materials. Those made with phthalates or PVCs are usually no-no’s as far as sex toy connoisseurs are concerned (toys described as “Jelly” often contain these chemicals).

Rather, vibrators made from medical grade silicone (not just “silicone based” but actual medical grade silicone) are often considered among the safest of choices and unlikely to cause allergies or to release toxins. When it comes to dildos, those that are made of glass (more like a Pyrex than glass) are generally touted as preferable.

Because Jelly and silicone based toys are significantly more affordable than many medical grade silicone or glass toys, many women end up opting for these less costly toys – especially in bad economic times. If your toy is made of one of these materials, don’t despair! Try slipping a condom over the toy before using it so as to protect your body from its chemicals. Many women prefer to use condoms over their vibrators and dildos, anyway, as it makes sex toy clean-up far neater and easier. Condom use with Jelly and other toys made of soft materials is also key because these toys tend to be more porous (and can thus harbor bacteria) whereas toys made of medical grade silicone, glass, or hard plastic to be among the least porous, and thus among the easiest to keep clean. Learn more about toy materials by reading The Good Vibrations Guide to Sex.

[Originally published in my weekly column at CheekyChicago.com]

This article is part of a four-part series of tips related to sex toy shopping. Check back next week for Tip #2.

[Above photo by hyperscholar, via their Flick photostream.]

About Dr. Debby Herbenick

Dr. Debby Herbenick

Dr. Debby Herbenick is a sex researcher at Indiana University, sexual health educator at The Kinsey Institute, columnist, and author of five books about sex and love. Learn more about her work at www.sexualhealth.indiana.edu.

  • http://early2bed.com/ searah

    One thing to note… some manufacturers label products as “silicone” even when they are not really, so I always tell folks to look for packaging that says 100% silicone or medical-grade silicone. Better yet, shop somewhere where the staff can tell you what is silicone and what is a blend!

    xoxox
    searah

  • http://early2bed.com searah

    One thing to note… some manufacturers label products as “silicone” even when they are not really, so I always tell folks to look for packaging that says 100% silicone or medical-grade silicone. Better yet, shop somewhere where the staff can tell you what is silicone and what is a blend!

    xoxox
    searah

  • Debby

    That’s great advice, Searah! And exactly why Early to Bed is an easy, educational and fun place to shop for those new to sex toys as well as those who are familiar with all the bells and whistles. MSP readers in the Chicago area: check out http://www.Early2Bed.com or stop by!

  • Debby

    That’s great advice, Searah! And exactly why Early to Bed is an easy, educational and fun place to shop for those new to sex toys as well as those who are familiar with all the bells and whistles. MSP readers in the Chicago area: check out http://www.Early2Bed.com or stop by!