As a naive consumer a mere 3-4 years ago I bought a plethora of toys varying in their quality; in some cases, they were just plain dubious. I should not have bought them. I’ve also received items for testing. I agreed to test those items. Now I go through my collection of plain brown cardboard boxes (yes, I still have some of those!). And I find freaky looking things like:
A floppy penis extender, made from TPR.
A crystal jellies ribbed anal starter dildo, made from PVC. The bright pink colour is now faded, ugh. Even more worrying, the packaging says that the toy contains Sil-A-Gel formula, and I’m thinking Sil-A-WTF?! I will say more about this dubious component later, but safe to say, it doesn’t sit well with me. Pardon the pun, here!
A tacky skinny purple G-spot vibe that takes 2 AAA batteries. It is made from TPR and ABS plastic. The insertable part is TPR.
a ‘realistic’ 7-inch extra-girthy dildo, that resembles the cock of a non-green Hulk. Made from some rubbery feeling god-awful stuff. I didn’t keep the packaging so I’m not quite sure.
Various ‘silicone’ vibrators that are manufactured in China so I am not sure they are actually pure silicone. A flame-test would ascertain whether they are bona-fide or not. I just haven’t gotten round to holding a match to any of these toys yet…
What is body-safe versus toxic anyway?
‘Body-safe’ materials include inert non-reactive components such as:
platinum-cured, medical-grade silicone.
Metals such as aluminium and titanium.
Toys that contain TPR, PVC, weird antibacterial additives (for example, Sil-A-Gel), generic ‘silicone’ and those pesky phthalates are NOT strictly body-safe. Despite the claims of the manufacturers! Because they also claim, that the items are sold as novelties only, and so any medical claims are unfounded.
a group of chemicals used in hundreds of products, such as toys, vinyl flooring, detergents, lubricating oils, food packaging, pharmaceuticals, blood bags and tubing, and personal care products, such as nail polish, hair sprays, aftershave lotions…
Say what?! Why would Phthalates be put into sex toys anyway?
Now if that didn’t already set off alarm bells in your head, (hello, putting a component of engine oil somewhere sensitive and that is a permeable entrance to the rest of your body), then maybe the following will! Dibutylphthalate (DBP) is a plasticiser that was used in nail polishes to reduce cracking. Dimethylphthalate (DMP) was used in hair sprays to help them form a flexible film on hair. The FDA say that these two phthalates are now rarely used. But that does not mean to say they are no longer used at all. Nor does it mean that other potentially harmful phthalates / other chemicals are not used in manufacturing.
Phthalates have been used in toys because it helps them remain flexible and resistant to cracking. The bad news is that phthalates are not chemically bound to the plastics they’re added to, so they can ‘leach’ out. Which is why you are advised to take your microwave meal out of the plastic tray it was packaged in, before heating in the microwave. They are odourless, and the risk they pose to human health includes (but is not necessarily limited to) liver, kidney, lung and reproductive system damage.
While phthalates are a huge class of chemicals and nowhere near every chemical in the class has been studied, several have been shown to have negative health impacts…Enough distinct phthalates have been studied to indicate that companies should proceed with caution when using any chemical in the phthalate class, particularly in products for pregnant women or young children, whom the research has indicated are the most vulnerable to the effects of phthalates.
I mainly tell you this information so that you can consider what you are putting into your body when you indulge in a bit of self-love. That way, you can decide for yourself if you wish to forego the risks and jump into bed with your TPR / ‘Phthalate-free’ PVC dong.
What about Sil-A-Gel?
Before I forget, let me get back to that weird additive, Sil-a-Gel, which I have no idea of in terms of its chemical composition. Some Googling lead me to discover that this additive, that is supposedly anti-bacterial is a proprietary constituent made by Doc Johnson:
Sil-A-Gel is “added into our material in the raw mixing phase so that the anti-bacterial agents are actually engrained into the product and will not wash away with use. Sil-A-Gel helps stop the spread of unwanted and potentially bad bacteria forming on your favorite products.”
If you look at the source of this extract, you will find it comes from Dangerous Lilly’s 2014 blog post on Sex Toy Material Guides. Her advice is to basically avoid any toy containing Sil-A-Gel. If you search further on her blog you will find out why. It caused irritation to sensitive parts on a sex-toy user.
Now I don’t know about you, but if I’m using a sex toy, I do not expect to feel unpleasant irritation. You may ask why I’ve held onto these toys for so long. I ask myself the same question. But then I remember, it’s so I can take them out periodically and remind myself why these toys are just plain yucky!
These toys will remain banished to a brown box, until sometime when I see fit to just toss them out. For now they are my sex toy ‘museum of horrors.’
I now own several items from the E. L. James approved Fifty Shades of Grey Pleasure Collection. In addition, I have a couple of items from the Fifty Shades Darker range of toys, including the Anastasia masquerade mask and the Adrenaline Spikes pinwheel. Both ranges of toys appeal to me, as they are classy in aesthetic appearance, whilst also being user-friendly. Moreover, they represent reasonable value for money. Below I describe some of my favourites from the Pleasure Collection.
Drive Me Crazy Glass Massage Wand
I bought the Fifty Shades of Grey Drive Me Crazy glass wand from Lovehoney when on offer with a free Charlie Tango vibrator, so I was really chuffed to get two classy toys for the price of one. I’ve used the wand on three consecutive days, and it is awesome. This is my first glass dildo, and hopefully the first of many.
The design is impeccable, with the six nubs on the length providing sensual stimulation, whilst the head reaches my G-spot easily. The glass wand arrived in a gorgeous box, with a black silky draw string bag, which will do nicely for storing my growing collection of toys. I’m starting to feel sex-mad and insatiable a la Steele, the more I use it.
These masks were free with a costume purchase. They come in the black card Fifty Shades of Grey packaging I’ve come to know well, and love.
The masks are very striking in appearance, particularly the silver one; my favourite of the two. The build quality is good and both masks are rigid, with ribbon ties that seem attached well. There are quotations along the length of the silky ties, which adds a nice touch.
The fit is not bad, though being rigid they do feel quite hard on the bridge of the nose and brow bone for me. I wear glasses, so I’m not sure they would be very practical for me to wear out to a party. However they are perfectly fine for at home! Lovehoney are currently selling these masks for £19.99.
The Pinch Adjustable Nipple Clamps
These clamps were my first ever foray into nipple ‘pain-play’. The fact that they are silicone tipped and adjustable appealed to a newbie like me.
They arrived in the sleek black Fifty Shades of Grey box, with a satin drawstring bag included. After a couple of practices they were easy to put onto my nipples, and I usually slide the adjuster about half-way to get the pressure I like without being too painful.
These nipple clamps add another dimension to my play time, so I am glad I tried them out. The Pinch adjustable nipple clamps are available from Lovehoney for only £14.99!
Sweet Sensation Bath Oil
The bottle is sleek and black, with the usual Fifty Shades theme. There is a little plastic stopper inside the lid to prevent any leaks in transit, which needs to be removed before you can open the silver top.
On first sniff, it doesn’t smell very strongly of the scents it claims to contain, and actually smelled a bit ‘oily’. However, once dropped into the bath under some warm running water, the notes of sandalwood hit my nose, and were subtle and pleasant.
Be careful not to use too much, as I did once in a moment of heavy-handedness. It will make the tub very slippery unless you have a bath mat, and could make getting in and out of the bath a dangerous procedure.
When used reasonably sparingly, it gives the skin a nice soft feel, without being too oily. Ideal for a relaxing dip, though I think the price tag is a bit expensive for what it is. I think when I buy bath products I prefer something more luxurious and exotic-looking such as the Champneys or Covent Garden ranges. But if you’re a fan of the FSoG range, you’ll love this nonetheless.
Hard Limits Restraints Kit
I got this kit free with a purchase from Lovehoney. The package is gorgeous and chic; a lovely outer box, with the usual FSoG styling and an attractive and useful inner storage box.
The set is easy to put together. The main piece goes under our mattress nicely, and can be hidden from prying eyes. The cuffs are comfortably padded, but that Velcro won’t give an inch, making you a captive audience for your lover’s attention and teasing!
The blindfold is comfortable enough. I didn’t find it too tight though I have a smallish head. This bit of kit was an absolute treat, given that it was a freebie. It is a lot of fun to play with. We have taken it in turns being restrained and teased, leading to an explosive finale for him and I. Both of us will enjoy it for many play times!
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This lubricant is thick and water-based, making it suitable for use with a range of toys (including silicone toys). Used copiously it is fine for anal play as well. Ultra lube washes away easily, though not so that it can’t be used in the shower! There is no unpleasant smell, nor taste. Moreover it’s suitable for vegetarians, so it can be used for oral sex without making you wretch. The 170ml bottle has a flip-top cap which makes dispensing very easy. The label is very bold, though, so no hiding what is contained within!
Another water-based lubricant, that is safe to use with toys and with condoms too. It contains no glycerin or parabens (the latter is a preservative that has been linked with cancer, and was formerly used in a range of cosmetic agents and toiletries). It is also vegan-friendly.
The taste is pleasant, and reminds me of summer holidays when I’ve used it on my other half, akin to licking a tropical ice lolly albeit minus the ‘ice’ element. The bottle’s flip top opening is easy to use with no leaks or drips. Consistency of this lubricant is not too sticky, and it lasts a decent time before having to reapply. It’s a bit runnier than the Doc Johnson Ultra lube (which is not flavoured), but it is a good value option compared with other branded flavoured lubricants.
This kitsch and cute Koala-shaped bottle of Strawberry Margarita lubricant was purchased from Star Sex Toys USA, for $16.43. It is water-soluble and compatible with latex, rubber and plastic according to the label on the back. I’ve used it with condoms and it seems perfectly fine. I’m not so sure about it’s compatibility with silicone-based toys, since it contains Dimethyl Polysiloxane. Admittedly, I inadvertently used it with a couple of silicone toys before reading the ingredients. Touch wood, they seem to be intact and don’t show obvious signs of degradation, though I’ve never seen what silicone-based lubricants actually do to silicone toys. Perhaps that can be a scientific experiment for when I want to have a silicone toy clear-out (!)
In terms of the flavour, I’m not so sure I can taste strawberry margarita. It has more a generic ‘sweet artificial’ taste, which isn’t gross but it’s not really my ‘cup of tea.’
It doesn’t state that it is suitable for vegetarians. I would guess that since it contains carrageenan (an extract from red edible seaweeds, used as a thickening / gelling agent) it would be veggie-friendly. I stand corrected if I am wrong. With Wimbledon on its way, it would make an interesting combination with some aerosol cream, for a slightly different ‘mixed doubles’ game :p
System Jo H2O Sweet Pomegranate flavoured lubricant
A wee 30ml bottle of this fruity lube was procured from Orgasmic when it was in the sale. Normal price is £5.99 (or £12.99 for 150ml). The lube is safe to use with condoms and sex toys (including silicone toys), and is smooth without feeling sticky. The taste is really sweet, and it actually reminds me of Calpol! For the more health / safety-conscious users, this might not be a lubricant to try as it does have glycerin (not a sugar, but can be converted to sugar inside the vagina, which may not be ideal for women prone to yeast infections). I find this not to be an issue personally, but forewarned is forearmed as they say!
Tracey Cox Orgasm Gel
I got the Tracey Cox Orgasm Gel in a 3 for £10 deal, and I have also gifted a forum friend with this gel too, as I like it so much.
The gel gives a nice tingle without being overpowering, numbing, or too sticky.
I think I orgasm quicker when I use the gel, though the orgasms are not necessarily stronger.
The bottle lasts ages too, as you only need a tiny pump for good results. Get yourself some at Lovehoney for £9.99.
As someone who has always used condoms for sexual intercourse, I’ve used a few different brands and I found these condoms to be as good, if not better than, top branded ones. The packaging is mainly aimed at followers of the erotic novels, but I found it tasteful enough. The ‘packets’ themselves are easy to get into, and have a decent amount of lubricant coating to make them comfortable without making them too slippery to unroll.
In terms of fit, they are generously sized and tapered to allow them to cover my other half’s manhood sufficiently well without feeling insecure or too tight. They don’t have any texturing, but they are thin enough to allow decent sensations to be felt by both of us. Although they’ve been discontinued at my usual retailer, they are available elsewhere, so they can be purchased here.
Quote code LUVBUNNY20 to get 20% off orders at Kinky Desires.
Durex Intimate Feel (12 pack)
These condoms feel nice, they glide on well, and are thin enough to allow all sensations to be felt, whilst keeping you secure with their high quality. With the extra lubrication, they are good for extended play sessions. When I first reviewed them they were more expensive than other Durex condoms I’d used, but the price has come down to make them more competitive against other brands.
I was selected to road test these female sheaths. They came promptly and discreetly packaged. The sheaths come in a cardboard sleeve; a bit smaller than for a pair of tights or stockings. Luwi packets are blue/purple and are about twice the size as male condom packets. I was expecting a large-ish sheath. I was not disappointed in that respect. The sheath resembled a plastic poly-tunnel made for the vagina, with two rings connected by the ‘tunnel’ sheathing.
Instructions on the packaging informed me to squeeze and insert the smaller ring, and the larger ring would sit outside my vagina. My other half then had to aim his erection for the middle of the sheath, and slide in. The ring inside my vagina did not feel the most comfortable fit and it was quite awkward getting the positioning right the first time, meaning that it felt like my partner’s penis had ‘short sheets’ to ‘bed down’ in.
A bit of rearranging rectified the issue slightly, so we were able to continue testing. The sensations weren’t as good as with male condoms. The sheath just felt like it was swamping him, and dampening my arousal too. Luckily the ejaculate was all captured, otherwise another little bunny might have been made. It did not seem to feel any easier to use on repeated trials; I just don’t think it’s a good enough design; it’s not tapered and seems too cumbersome. It didn’t make me feel particularly confident with the appearance of it hanging out of me either.
All in all, we felt a bit underwhelmed by the Luwi, after hoping for good things.It’s a nice concept to enable women to take the barrier contraceptive option into their own hands, (and vaginas!) but it needs a lot of refining to make it a good enough rival to male condoms.
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