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If you wouldn't put it in your mouth ... How to find a safe sex toy if you have allergies or chemical sensitivity

searah deysachBy Searah Deysach, owner of Early to Bed

Welcome back to Chronically Sexy, our column in which the fabulous and knowledgable Searah Deysach answers your questions about sex and sensuality for ChronicBabes. As always, we remind you that our articles are meant to help you start your own research and should not be considered medical advice. Do your homework, Babes!

Sex toys can be a wonderful addition to the erotic life of almost anyone. They can be used as just fun toys, as tools to explore your sexuality, or even as "helping hands" to those with limited mobility or strength. There are thousands of dildos, vibrators, cockrings, butt toys and such on the market these days.

You can get things in all kinds of shapes and sizes and colors. You can also get toys made out of a wide variety of different materials, some of which are safer for your body than others, especially if you are sensitive to latex or other chemicals.

It can all get very confusing, so I am going to break down for you here to help you make informed choices when picking out something sexy for yourself or your lover.

100% Silicone

pink pantherHands down, this is the best choice when picking out a sex toy. 100% silicone toys are very safe for your body and super-duper durable. If you buy a non-vibrating silicone dildo now, with proper care it can last you the rest of your life—no foolin'!

Silicone is hypoallergenic and the best soft material for anyone with latex or chemical sensitivities. If you like to share, you can do so safely with silicone because you can boil your toys (or run 'em though your dishwasher) to sterilize them. Unfortunately, they are also some of the most costly toys out there, but in my opinion, worth every freakin' penny.

ChronicBabe recommends: Pink Panther

Hard Plastic

This is a great choice for vibrators, especially if you are budget-conscious. You can get a decent hard-plastic vibe for about $10.miss bliss

Hard plastic is also very body-safe. It is a non-porous material that doesn’t harbor any bacteria or such, and can be cleaned easily with soap and water. Hard plastic also does a great job of transmitting vibrations, so these will also be the toys that pack the most punch.

ChronicBabe recommends: Miss Bliss

Glass, Stainless Steel, Acrylic

eglass dildoWhile a some people have a hard time believing that glass toys are safe for your girltown, glass is actually one of the most gentle and resilient materials out there. Glass dildos are made of high-quality Pyrex-like glass that is tempered, non-porous and super easy to keep clean.

Stainless steel and acrylic are very similar. All these toys can be sterilized with a trip through the dishwasher and do not contain any ingredients that the majority of people have any reaction to (unless of course you are allergic to stainless steel or acrylic). They are super slick when lubed up and lots of people like the fact that you can manipulate the temperature of the toy with hot or cold water. 

ChronicBabe recommends: EGlass Dildo

Silicone Blends, Jelly Rubber & Latex

Non-100% silicone soft toys are where things start to get tricky, at least material-wise. There are a HUGE amount of toys on the market made of "mystery meat."

ella sex toyAnd lots of these toys can contain phthalates or latex. Phthalates are an additive that helps to soften the plastic that these toys are made of. They have recently been linked to cancer in lab studies and many sex toys have been found to contain high concentrations of them. Because of this, a lot of better sex shops are working at eliminating these toys from their shelves and making sure to inform customers of this concern.

These types of soft toys are also porous, so you can never be sure that they are 100% clean (and they can't be sterilized) which is why I always recommend that you use a condom with these toys.

The sad thing is that these are some of the most affordable (and adorable) toys on the market. The good news is that now manufacturers have taken notice of this health concern and are making more and more toys that are phthalate and latex-free!

But, be wary of mass-produced toys that say silicone on the box. A toy only has to have 10% silicone in order for it to be labeled as such and many of these toys still contain latex and/or phthalates. Look for something that is 100% silicone, or when in doubt, use a condom!

ChronicBabe recommends: Ella

CyberSkin, SoftSkin, UR3 and other skin-like materials

Some people really want their sex toys to be life-like and these are the most supple, fleshy materials on the market. They are also some of the most sketchy and difficult to care for.

It's like pulling teeth to get manufactures to tell you what is in these materials (I think they fear people stealing their secret formula) and they are super-porous, so they're nearly impossible to get sparkly clean.

cloud 9Most of them also require a last step of dusting them with cornstarch powder when they are washed and dried. This restores their supple texture for next time.

CyberSkin (which is a brand name), according to the manufacturer, is latex- and phthalate-free, as are a few of the other materials. But CyberSkin is also used commonly to refer to other skin-like materials (like how we say "Kleenex" when we simply mean "tissue"), so if you are interested in a CyberSkin brand product, make sure it is the real thing if you want to avoid latex and phthalates.

And with all of these toys, it is still best to use a condom so you can keep any pesky bacteria from being transmitted between people or even back into you.

ChronicBabe recommends: Cloud 9

The bottom line

The bottom line: If you are chemically sensitive or concerned about the safety of your sex toys, go for the 100% silicone, hard plastic or glass/acrylic/steel toys. These are the toys that are safest for anyone's body. And don't be afraid to ask questions when making a sex toy purchase. A good shop should be able to tell you what any toy is made of and steer you in the right direction. And if a clerk says, "What's a phthalate?" go somewhere else…

Posted: 7/26/2007 in Chronically Sexy

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