(Feature image is the Amethyst Deceiver mushroom, a beautiful but poisonous mushroom that absorbs arsenic from the soil)
We talk a lot here at Sensuale Intimate Wellness about the concept of “body safe” toys, and while the phrase is used liberally in sexually involved circles, it rarely leaves the conversations of sex toy manufacturers and distributors. This needs to change. Knowledge is power, people!
Companies that create non-body safe toys depend on your lack of knowledge of toy materials so they can continue disguising their products with words like “TPE” or “skin-feel”. Trust us, if the toy doesn’t explicitly use the words “body safe silicone” or “medical grade silicone”, something is being hidden from you. Every single product carried at Sensuale is 100% body safe, but if you’re looking to purchase elsewhere, or perhaps you’re side eyeing ol’ reliable in your night stand and questioning your re-occurring UTI’s, this guide is for you!
Why aren’t all toys body safe? That seems crazy!
Trust us, we know. The long, proud history of commercially manufactured sex toys is a sketchy one, but as far as we can tell, the lack of regulation on toys people are literally putting into their bodies stems from a few historical events. In the late 1920’s to early 1950’s, masturbators were being marketed as a cure-all product, as toys like the Polar Cub were boasted as a weight loss product, the cure for depression, and the cure to male impotence. In the mid 1950’s, the FDA finally cracked down on how vibrators were marketed, so we end up with the era of personal massagers- a much more expensive designation as they require FDA approval.
(1920 Polar Cub)
So how did manufacturers get around this expensive FDA approval? By labeling toys as novelties! We’ve all seen the sketchy plastic dildo in the back of the local Spencer’s with the huge “FOR NOVELTY USE ONLY” sticker slapped on top. The owners aren’t idiots who don’t know what toys are used for- manufacturers just understand that the moment the “novelty” sticker is put on top, they’re removed from the blame for any bad reaction a toxic toy might have with your skin.
Sketchy, right? Manufacturers get to the skirt the blame if your toy burns you or causes an infection as well as dodging higher taxes, all by using that little sticker. Toy manufacturers may not have malicious intent by doing this, but the product is incredible harmful!
Because of this, toys even today lack any real regulation, so we depend on the kindness of the manufacturers to continue selling beautiful BODY SAFE toys to the public.
What makes a toy toxic?
There are 2 types of toxic toys, and while some toys can be both kinds of toxic, they can also be just one or the other.
- Toxic materials. These are the toys made of dangerous crude plastics that are leaking oils and other materials into your sensitive vaginal or rectal membrane. This generally comes in the form of phthalates, which while are becoming less common, are known to drop fertility, and have been associated with cancer, diabetes, and other endocrine disorders.
- The community goes back and forth on this, but in our humble opinion, porous toys made of materials like TPE/TPR (look for this material on packages) are just as bad as toxic toys. Because of their porousness, they can harbour bacteria and yeast, or even start growing mold after continuous use. If you have one of these toys, they should be thrown out after 4-6 months… But in our opinion shouldn’t be used at all.
How do I know if my toy is toxic?
Every sex toy educator has their tricks, but at Sensuale, we have three that we like to employ to really find out if a toy is toxic.
- Smell! One of the trademark smells of a non-body safe toy is the reek of a pool toy that’s fresh out of the box. That smell you’re smelling is crude plastic with bonding agents leaking out, and I can promise that’s something you want to avoid!
- Look! The biggest rule and most obvious rule is that real, dense, body safe silicone toys can never be completely transparent. Some can be a murky clear colour, but never the crystal effect of something like a jelly toy. Sorry jelly lovers, but your toy is too porous to be safe! Those clear jelly toys are notorious for holding on to bacteria, and its not uncommon to find mold growing inside.
- Burn! This one isn’t for the faint of heart, but it sure is fun if you’re 99% sure your toy is toxic and you want to make sure! Body safe silicone toys will NEVER burn, they’ll only ash little as there is nothing for the flame to catch on to. TOXIC toys however, often soaked in mineral oils or bonding agents, will catch fire immediately in a blue flame.
(Image from DangerousLilly.com)
How do you know when a toy IS body safe?
Sex toy manufacturers that are creating beautiful non porous, non toxic body safe sex toys like Dame, Le Wand, Fun Factory, and Fleurotics just to name a few will proudly post about their body safe products. Keep an eye out for words like “body safe” or “medical grade” to describe their silicone, and you’re in for a treat! Dense, velvety soft silicone is what you’re looking for when purchasing.
(Image taken from Dame's website)
Other body safe toy materials (when manufactured correctly) include stainless steel, polished wood, ABS plastic, and much more.
This is scary stuff. How do we get the government to regulate sex toys so this doesn’t happen?
The taboo nature of the sex toy industry makes it difficult for real legislation to be passed to keep us safe from non body safe toys. Until the culture around sex and masturbation changes, we have to keep diligent when purchasing toys, and letting our loved ones know the dangers of the industry.
We encourage you to share this guide with your friends, and let them know that their toy may be harming them! If you need to replace your toy that you now know is toxic, Sensuale Intimate Wellness offers a change out rate where we will find you the closest body safe match to your current toy, and take 25% off your purchase.
Now go forth, friends! Keep masturbating, and keep safe!