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A Guide to Body-Safe Sex Toy Materials

Sex toys come in a wide range of materials, each with their own unique set of benefits and limitations. We’re going to breakdown each of the most commonly used sex toy materials to tell you what’s what when it comes to choosing a body-safe toy.

It should go without saying that if you’re buying products specifically designed for sexual pleasure, that they’re going to body safe. Unfortunately this isn’t always the case and for many years the sex toy industry has been plagued with nasties that can wreak havoc with your most sensitive body parts - wtf.

So what makes a material body-safe?

We typically look at three main categories when defining what makes a toy body-safe.

  • Porosity - can this toy be thoroughly cleaned?

Why is this important? If a toy is porous (read: has pores that materials can get into) then it can never truly be cleaned. Bacteria from bodily fluids and lubricants can get trapped in the material and cause irritation with repeated use.

  • Toxicity - can this toy hurt me?

Why is this important? By sticking a label on the packet that declares the product a ‘novelty item’ sex toy manufacturers can get away with putting pretty much anything in a product. Some of these unregulated materials can harm your skin and body by causing a rash or chemical burn. This typically applies to soft plastics like jelly rubber or latex.

  • Shape - is this toy safe to use as advertised?

Why is this important? This typically applies to anal toys which absolutely have to have a sufficiently flared base to go anywhere near your booty (more on that here), else they can get lost and cause serious medical issues.

Although the above sounds pretty scary, it’s very easy to avoid harmful toys if you’re armed with a little bit of know-how and buy your toys from trusted manufacturers and retailers.

Our commitment to you is that every product we stock is 100% body safe. So, let’s get into the materials.

Body-safe materials

Silicone

Ah, silicone sex toys, how we love you. Silicone is pretty much the gold standard for vibrating toys and also for many dildos, plugs and other pleasure products. There are a couple of reasons that high-quality silicone is so popular. For one, it’s a non-porous material which means you can easily clean any bacteria off with mild soap and warm water. Silicone also packs a punch and carries deep, rumbly vibrations incredibly well.

Some of our fave silicone toys are incredibly soft to the touch and feel very luxurious. They can range from sturdy and solid to squishy and soft.

Silicone toys are not compatible with silicone lube so steer well clear (silicone lubes have been known to break down the surface of silicone toys - and we wouldn’t wish that on your vibes) - you’re best off with a water based lube.

    • Compatible lube: Water-based lubricants
    • How does it feel: Silky, smooth, soft

Glass

Glass is a luscious material and its flush exterior makes for very smooth insertion. Glass toys are super safe as they’re completely non-porous and can be easily sterilised between uses. You can also go to town with lubrication as glass sex toys are compatible with aaallll the kinds - and lashings of lube are definitely recommended.

These toys can be really great for hitting the G-spot or P-spot with super-targeted stimulation due to their rigid form and the large range of swerves and curves that they are available in. Glass sex toys also makes for great temperature play, just place them in warm (not hot) or cold water so they can adjust.

Toys made of borosilicate glass are very durable and should never shatter, but do store your toy carefully to avoid getting chips in the material as these can be harmful for your body.

  • Compatible lube: Any
  • How does it feel: Smooth, weighty, rigid

 

Crystal

Sex toys crafted from crystal typically take the form of dildos or ‘yoni eggs’.

Some people swear by crystal toys for their positive healing energy and their sacredness. When you masturbate with a crystal toy, you may choose to open your body and your heart to their healing energy.

They are typically hand-crafted from high quality crystals such as Rose Quartz, Clear Quartz, Amethyst, Black Obsidian and Jade. Each precious material is said to hold its own unique healing properties.

Before you use your crystal toy it’s said to be important to cleanse it thoroughly to rid any collected energy from its life before you. If your toy is non-porous you can clear it by submerging it in salt water and leaving overnight, rinsing it before use.

  • Compatible lube: Any
  • How does it feel: Smooth, weighty, rigid

Metal

Smooth, weighty toys that tend to be pretty heavy compared to silicone toys. Metal sex toys can truly be a thing of beauty. This is a popular material because of the tactile nature of metal’s surface, their compatibility with any kind of lube and that ~ heft ~ that you just don’t get with other materials.

Both the firmness of metal toys and their cool exterior make for wonderful sensations.

The NJoy Pure Wand is probably the most notorious glass toy due to its wonderfully curved shape that is expertly crafted to hit your G or P spot and famed for its ability to stimulate vaginal ejaculation.

  • Compatible lube: Any!
  • Feel: Silky smooth, hard, cold

Wood

Got wood? If you want to venture into the world of wooden sex toys, always ensure you’re purchasing from a reputable brand and that the finish is medical-grade and polished and sealed - this way you can rest-assured it’s body-safe.

Check individual instructions when it comes to cleaning and storing the toys.

  • Compatible lube: Silicone or water-based
  • How does it feel: Firm, smooth

Ceramic

Typically part sex-toy part -art-piece and generally used for dildos or butt plugs. Again, with ceramic sex toys you’ll want to ensure that they have been crafted, kiln-fired and sealed by a professional ceramic toy maker.

  • Compatible lube: Silicone or water-based
  • How does it feel: Firm, smooth

Hard plastic (ABS)

This kind of material is pretty standard when it comes to vibrators (particularly bullets) - the hard material carries vibrations particularly well and produces a strong, buzzy vibration.

ABS plastic sex toys are rigid so can be great for pinpointed stimulation.

  • Compatible lube: Any!
  • How does it feel: Rigid, smooth

Potentially harmful materials

Jelly rubber

Jelly rubber is probably not your friend. Once upon a time jelly rubber toys were rife on the shelves of sex shops and frequently sold as ‘novelty’ items. When we talk about toys being ‘body-safe’, we are often referring to toys that are made of this material - they often contain chemical compounds known as phthalates. This chemical is used in hundreds of household items and typically used in plastics to make them bendable.

Phthalates are largely banned from use in children’s toys, but unfortunately sex toy regulation hasn’t quite caught up. Exposure to phthalates has been linked to breast cancer, male fertility issues, diabetes and many more health problems. So yeah, the bottom line is: steer well clear! You can rest assured that Self & More will never stock jelly rubber toys or products that contain phthalates.

(If you do decide to use jelly rubber, then always use a condom).

  • Compatible lube: Water or silicone lubricants
  • How does it feel: Flexible, rubbery

Materials that need a little extra consideration

Latex

First of all: don’t put latex toys inside you! Your body might break them down and they can cause a bad reaction. Aside from that, latex is synonymous with condoms, adult clothing and sex accessories. Latex is adored by many because of its silky smooth appearance and ability to stretch tightly against the body.

Latex can be tricky to store and should always be handled with care - when cleaning your latex pleasure products you should use antibacterial product cleaner or a mild soap and water, before lightly drying off with a clean cloth and spraying with a renewer powder to maintain the suppleness of your products.

It goes without saying that those with latex allergies should never play with latex toys! Key takeaway: avoid using any latex toys internally.

  • Compatible lube: Water or silicone lubricants
  • How does it feel: Silky smooth, flexible, rubbery

Realistic feel

Those looking for a realistic experience may want to opt for a toy that falls within the ‘realistic feel’ umbrella. Frequently crafted from elastomer or other rubber or plastic materials, this term encompasses toys that replicate the real-life intricacies, textures or appearance of real body parts.

There are lots of brands on the market manufacturing this kind of material, and their life-like appearance makes them a great option for those who wish to ‘pack’ a penis into a harness or packing underwear.

Materials in this bracket are typically porous, which means you should avoid sharing them with partners. You should also clean them thoroughly after play as they are more prone to harbouring bacteria. You may find that these toys may need to be replaced or thrown away more frequently than their non-porous alternatives.

  • Compatible lube: Water based lubricants
  • How does it feel: Realistic, smooth, tactile
  • Check individual products for latex and phthalates.

Elastomer blends

This material is often used for masturbation sleeves and strokers, typically designed to be used with a penis. Elastomer toys can be squidgy and soft, and be used with varying levels of vibration and pressure.

Elastomer is a porous material which means it’s more likely to retain bacteria even after thoroughly cleaning your toys. Because of this, you should not share these toys and always store in a clean, dry place. These toys shouldn’t be stored touching other toys as the material has been known to break down or even fuse together with other toys. Single use elastomer masturbators are emerging in the sex toy market so you can pleasure yourself without worrying about the deep cleanse! Always check the individual products for guidance around how long to keep these toys before disposing of them.

  • Compatible lube: Water-based
  • How does it feel: Squidgy, flexible
  • Check individual products for latex and phthalates.