There are countless toys out there to choose from — unfortunately, not all of them will get you to your happy place effectively, or even safely. The sex toy industry, which is largely unregulated, is littered with manufacturers and distributors who are more interested in quantity than quality. Fortunately that’s changing, as consumers become more educated and demanding. So keep these 7 important rules in mind when shopping for a battery-operated friend:
- Say no to novelties. A toy labeled “for novelty use only” means “don’t actually use it on your body!” So unless you’re just shopping for bachelorette party decorations, don’t buy these “gag gifts.”
- Avoid toys made of cheap jelly rubber: they often have a strong odor, feel sticky, and are impossible to clean thoroughly (because their pores can harbor bacteria). The odor is caused by an outseeping of gasses from plastic softeners called phthalates, which some studies have shown to be bad for both the environment and your body.
- Choose non-porous, phthalate-free materials which can be sterilized, such as high-grade metals like steel and aluminum; seamless acrylic or glass; and, our favorite, 100% silicone – it’s hypoallergenic, boilable (as long as it doesn’t have any electric parts), dishwasher-safe (if your roommates don’t mind), and odorless.
- Read the fine print. Try to invest in toys that state what they’re made of, and include care and cleaning instructions. Unfortunately many don’t (usually a bad sign), so ask or email a sales rep for this info.
- Be selective about stores. Of course, you want to shop at retailers that actually have an educated sales staff who can answer such questions. These are usually smaller outfits with a kinder, gentler, more inclusive approach to sales (i.e. their marketing materials don’t exclusively feature porn stars), like GoodVibrations.com.
- Remember, you get what you pay for. A high price tag doesn’t always guarantee high quality. But anything with a price tag so low that it seems too good to be true, probably is. It’s worth investing a little in your sexual health and satisfaction.
- Don’t forget that lubes are toys, too! If you invest in only one bedside accessory this year, then make it a high-quality, man-made, water-based or silicone lubricant! It’s affordable, easy to use, and can improve almost any sexual activity for anyone, male or female. Lube can make things more comfortable for much longer for her, it can help prevent condom breakage, and a few drops on the inside of a condom can also enhance sensation for him.