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Sex Toy Materials: The Complete Guide Update for 2022

Sex toys come in an astounding array of materials and we at Betty's want you to know exactly what you are putting in, around, and on your body. That is why we have created this comprehensive guide to sex toy materials to help you make the best choice for your body. 

Some important things to know about sex toy materials:

  • There are NO regulations around sex toy materials and what is safe for manufacturers to use
  • The sex toy industry is self-regulated, which is why it's important to buy from reputable brands and the stores that carry them (like Betty's)
  • There are many knock offs of reputable brands in places like Amazon where lesser quality components or unsafe materials may be used. Buyer beware 
  • Some materials require more caution and care than others 

Some definitions you should know:

Porous: Some toy materials are porous, meaning there are tiny holes through which liquid can pass and germs can gather. We recommend using a condom on these types of toys to maintain optimal cleanliness

Non-Porous: These materials have no pores in which to harbor bacteria, making them perfect for body safe sex toys

Phthalates: These are harmful chemicals that can be used to make plastics soft and squishy, more transparent, or durable

Phthalate-Free: A sex toy with this designation uses methods other than phthalates to soften their plastics. 

THE MOST POPULAR SEX TOY MATERIALS

SILICONE

This is the Cadillac of sex toy materials and is widely available in all styles of products.

Perks

  • Non-porous, phthalate free, and easy to clean
  • You can boil silicone dildos or put them in the dishwasher (top rack) for cleaning
  • You can disinfect them with a bleach/water solution (1 part bleach to 10 parts water and soak for 10-15 minutes)
  • Works well with most popular Toy Cleaners.
  • You can get any type of toy in silicone now – from rabbits to butt plugs 
  • The best, safest, softer option for anal play 
  • If you share toys with partners or use items both vaginally and anally, silicone (plus metal and glass) is a must-have so you can disinfect between each intimate encounter

Drawbacks

  • Silicone material tends to be more expensive, although there are more affordable silicone products available now  than ever before
  • Using silicone lubricant can damage some silicone toy materials. This is not a universal rule, but you should check the manufacturer’s recommendations for safe lubricants to use with your silicone toy (Silicone and water hybrid lubricants are fine since the amount of silicone is minimal in these lubes)

USE WATER BASED OR WATER/SILICONE HYBRID LUBES WITH SILICONE TOYS SUCH AS Wicked Aqua Water Based Lubricant

ABS Plastic:

More commonly found in bullets and some firm vibrators, this is often a more affordable, body safe alternative to silicone coated vibrators

Perks

  • ABS plastic is phthalate free and non-porous.
  • You can thoroughly clean it with soap and warm water 
  • Plastic conducts vibrations extremely well
  • It is compatible with any kind of lubricant 
  • Affordable and long lasting, if you are on a budget, there are lots of affordable plastic toys out there

Drawbacks

  • Rigid and unforgiving, you may wish to avoid this material if you want some ‘squish’ to your sex toys
  • Many plastic vibrators are not necessarily built to last and are often battery operated

Plastic toys can take any kind of lube you’d like, so why not try a lovely silicone lube like Pjur Original Bodyglide Silicone Based Lubricant

Glass

Glass sex toys are made of borosilicate glass which is specifically made to withstand extreme pressure, temperatures, and shock, therefore making it extremely safe for sex toys. 

Perks

  • Borosilicate glass is completely firm for intense stimulation
  • Glass is completely non-porous, body safe, and easy to clean
  • Glass can be used with any lubricant
  • Heat in warm water or cool in ice for fantastic temperature play
  • You can pop them in the dishwasher, bleach them, or just use soap and water to clean

Drawbacks

  • The firmness of glass is not comfortable for some people’s bodies
  • Glass toys are heavier than their silicone counterparts
  • There are very few vibrating glass sex toys on the market

For glass, we recommend you experiment with silicone lubes on this toy for long lasting playing power such as Wicked Ultra Silicone Lubricant.

 

Metal / Stainless Steel / Aluminum

Often coveted for their heft and glossy finish, metal sex toys are available in everything from dildos to butt plugs. There are many options in medical grade stainless steel, as well as lighter metals like polished aluminum

Perks

  • Metal is completely non-porous, body safe, and easy to disinfect completely
  • Like glass, metal can be heated or cooled for amazing sensory play
  • Aluminum gives you that metal feel without the excess weight
  • Metals are compatible with any type of lubricant 

Drawbacks

  • Stainless steel items can be extremely heavy and difficult to hold
  • Their firmness is off-putting for some folks
  • Pure stainless steel toys are expensive
  • Some aluminum contains nickel which can be an allergen for some

Stainless Steel can take any kind of lube you want to use, so why not try something natural and decadently thick, like Exsens Coco Shea Organic Body Oil and Intimate Moisturizer

 

TPR (Thermoplastic Rubber) and TPE (Thermoplastic Elastomer) 

TPR (Thermoplastic Rubber) and TPE (Thermoplastic Elastomer) are synthetic materials popular in more budget friendly toys such as dildos, penis masturbators, and cock rings, for their elasticity and realistic feel. They are porous materials. 

Perks

  • Soft and elastic, they can mimic the look and feel of real flesh 
  • These materials make for flexible and realistic penis strokers and extension sleeves
  • Generally, more affordable than silicone
  • Many manufacturers now make latex-free and phthalate-free TPR and TPE (Betty’s does not carry any toys with phthalates, but if shopping elsewhere check the products listings to be sure)
  •  

    Drawbacks

    • TPE and TPR are both porous materials meaning they can harbor bacteria, mildew, fungus, and germs which you cannot 100% eradicated with cleaning
    • Betty’s recommends using a non-latex condom on these toys (the oils in TPR/TPE are not compatible with latex condoms and can degrade or tear them)
    • Do not use them for anal play or switch between vaginal and anal play without a fresh non-latex condom for each use
    • Use an antibacterial cleaning spray or antibacterial soap and water before and after every use.
    • You can’t boil or bleach this material.
    • Dry thoroughly and store not touching other toys to maintain the material's integrity
    • There can be a strong rubber or chemical smell to these materials that often does not fade with time
    • These materials will degrade over time and can become cracked or rip

    Do not use oil-based lubes with these toys. Stick with water based or a hybrid of water and silicone such as Wicked Simply Hybrid Jelle Lubricant

     

    Cyberskin, Fanta Flesh, Real Skin, , Ultraskin, UR3, and other Realistic Materials:

    These are names manufacturers give to their soft, squishy TPR and TPE based materials, primarily found in realistic dildos. 

    Perks

    • Like TPR and TPE, these materials can look and feel incredibly lifelike 
    • They are extremely flexible, making them a preferred material for penis masturbators and sleeves
    • Betty's only carries phthalate-free versions of these materials from reputable manufacturers

    Drawbacks

    • These materials are porous and can harbor bacteria, germs, mold etc.
    • Each material type is a specific recipe created by its manufacturer and usually includes a combination of ingredients that could irritate those with sensitivities
    • You can use a non-latex condom to try and keep bacteria from reaching your skin but there is no scientific evidence that this is effective (the oils in TPR/TPE are not compatible with latex condoms and can degrade or tear them)
    • Do not use them for anal play or switch between vaginal and anal play without a fresh non-latex condom for each use
    • These materials need extra care and upkeep to maintain the integrity of the toy, including dusting them with corn starch or specialty renewing powders
    • Make sure you clean them thoroughly after every use with the method recommended by the manufacturer
    • Must be stored separately from other toys. The material will break down (crack or change shape) if it touches other materials
    • There can be a strong rubber or chemical smell to these materials that often does not fade with time
    • Some manufacturers add fragrance to their materials to offset the plastic smell

    It is important to use ONLY WATER BASED LUBRICANTS with these products. We recommend Pjur Aqua Water Based Aloe Vera Lubricant with these products.

    PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride)

    This is a polyvinyl chloride which is made pliable with the use of plasticizers. It can range from soft to extremely firm depending on the formulation

    Perks

    • Betty's carries only phthalate free PVC toys from reputable manufacturers
    • Firm PVC makes for great, affordable fetish items like spankers and floggers 
    • Softer PVC can be used in strap-on harnesses as a more affordable alternative to leather

    Drawbacks

    • PVC is a porous material which cannot be completely disinfected and cleaned. 
    • Betty’s recommends using a non-latex condom on these toys (the oils in PVC are not compatible with latex condoms and can degrade or tear them)
    • Do not use them for anal play or switch between vaginal and anal play without a fresh non-latex condom for each use
    • Although some PVC may not contain phthalates, it is still chemically softened
    • Many PVC toys can have an off-putting plastic smell that will not fade
    • Must be stored separately from other toys. The material will break down (crack or change shape) if it touches other materials

    We recommend you use water based lubes to maintain the materials of these toys but you can also get creative and try a silicone/water hybrid which is safe on this material and thicker than pure water based lubes.

    Jelly

    Jelly is usually another term for rubber. It can be very pliable and colorful, but there are many drawbacks. If you browse around our site, you will notice that we don’t carry jelly toys. There are several reasons for this.

    • Jelly is porous and often low quality and can contain phthalates
    • Jelly material breaks down quickly and can crack or melt. 
    • Many top manufacturers no longer use jelly materials

      "For more info check out this sex toy cleaning inforaphic by PleasureBetter.

      How to Clean Sex Toys Infographic