Sex Toy Materials Guide
Nowadays, sex toys come in a huge range of styles and finishes, so our Sex Toy Materials Guide gives you the lowdown on each of the most popular materials used in our vibrators, dildos, cock rings and other sex toys.
Choosing which sex toy material is usually just down to personal preference, but we've still outlined loads of details about each type of material. This way, you can make an informed decision about the best one for you.
ABS is a hard, long-lasting plastic that is incredibly strong and feels smooth against the skin. ABS plastic is the kind of hard plastic items like Lego bricks are made from and is compatible with water, silicone or oil-based lubricants. It's really easy to clean with antibacterial soap and water or a sex toy cleaner. ABS plastic is often found in bullet vibrators, lipstick vibrators, some ben-wa balls and the handles of some silicone vibrators.
Silicone rubber is a tough, skin-safe, smooth and soft feeling rubber. It's incredibly resistant to high temperatures and can withstand a good deal of stress, allowing it to be flexible when necessary. Silicone is widely regarded as one of the best materials to use for sex toys. Many top-of-the-line massagers and dildos are made of solid silicone or have a silicone coating over an ABS plastic core. Solid silicone is more flexible than silicone over ABS, but it's purely down to personal preference as to which is ‘better'.
You should only ever use water-based lubricants with silicone toys as oil- or silicone-based lubes will damage the surface of your toy.
TPE/TPR (Thermoplastic Elastomer or Thermoplastic Rubber)
TPE/TPR blends are skin-safe and flexible rubbers that are used in a huge range of toys - most often male masturbators or lifelike dildos.
TPE/TPR does not contain phthalates to soften the material so products made from this will always be phthalate-free. It also has an incredibly high tear-strength, so TPE/TPR can be made very soft without the risk of the product breaking down. Although the exact unique ingredients contained within them are trademarked secrets, Fleshlight's ‘Real Feel Superskin' and other ‘skin-like' materials like ‘LoveSkin' used in male masturbators are TPE/TPR blends.
Not only found in fetish-wear, PVC is a versatile material that comes in varying levels of hardness. It can be used to make clothes, solid dildos or vibrators, and is available in a huge variety of colours. PVC can contain phthalates but increasingly within the adult industry, other plastic softeners are used. Always check PVC product descriptions carefully before purchase; all non-phthalate products will be carefully labelled.
Latex originally starts as a milky, white fluid that's naturally produced by some plants before it gets turned into the adult items we all know. It can be used in the production of some fetish clothes, latex gloves and condoms. Although latex is completely safe to use, many people are sensitive or allergic to latex, so they are unable to use any products that contain it.
Even if you've never had a problem using latex products before, if you do experience a rash, soreness, tingling or any other unpleasant sensation when using a latex condom or wearing latex clothing, stop using the product immediately and consult a doctor.
PU or Polyurethane coating is becoming increasingly popular in sex toy production. Produced as a liquid, PU is designed to be sprayed over a solid body (usually made of ABS plastic) and gives a silky outer texture that can look shiny or matte depending on the spray process. Less flexible than silicone but with the same silky texture, PU is found on many smaller vibrators.
Glass sex toys - mainly dildos and butt plugs - are made from a smooth, tough glass that is safe for intimate use. Most glass sex toys are made from borosilicate glass, which is chemically reinforced during manufacture to make it very strong and resistant to breaking. Think of a Pyrex jug you use in the kitchen - it's the same stuff.
Although glass dildos can be broken or damaged by dropping or hitting them against a hard surface, the unique formula means that they will not break into sharp shards like normal glass. Instead they will shatter into larger pieces. If you damage your glass dildo, you should never attempt to use it again.
One of the best parts about glass dildos is that they can be used for temperature play as the glass will take on heat or cold for added stimulation. Try resting it in warm or ice cold water for a few minutes before play and find out for yourself!
This one's obvious! Metal is strong, long lasting and has a ‘hardcore' appeal that loads of people love. Like glass, it can also take on temperature, so you can chill or heat your toy for extra sensations. Look out for stainless steel or other alloys, but avoid zinc wherever possible as it can discolour and cause allergic reactions.
Go on most sex toy reviewers' or retailers' websites and they'll have a post telling you about the potential risks of Phthalates. Basically Phthalates are a chemical compound added to certain materials - PVC in particular - in order to make them more pliable, i.e. ‘jelly-like'.
Although these do a great job of making the material feel squishy and flesh-like, they can have unpleasant odours and will often react in nasty ways with other materials or even your skin. The bonding of the Phthalates and the plastics means that, over time, they break down and the phthalates are released into the atmosphere. That's why some cheaper sex toys can sometimes appear to ‘leak' or have condensation on the outside. Jelly toys should always be stored away from all your other sex toys as they can melt and fuse together.
Silicone, glass, ABS plastic, metal and ceramic, TPR and TPE sex toys do not contain any phthalates whatsoever. All ‘rubbery feel' sex toys aren't bad either, as there are safe phthalate replacements that soften plastic. If you're in any doubt, always contact us for more information. Our product descriptions will always state ‘phthalate-free' where appropriate.
Don't forget that some sex toy materials shouldn't be stored together. For more information, check out our Sex Toy Cleaning and Care Guide.
At Bondara, all of our products are clearly labelled as to what materials are used. If you're ever in any doubt as to what material would suit you best, or if you have a question about a specific item, contact our Customer Services team on 0800 311 2 511 or email [email protected]