Phthalates: What You REALLY Need To Know!

Phthalates are used all over the world. Phthalate esters are toxic chemicals added to make products more malleable. Research has shown that they can actually be harmful to the human body since they can give off toxins that can react to skin and hormones in the body. This has a proven negative effect on fertility.

Toxic materials
Image: Chemicals known to disrupt brain developm

It is in just about everything that is manufactured from sex toys to cosmetics, engine oils to disposable gloves. Interesting enough it is against the law to sell children’s toys that contain phthalates. The reason being children may put them in their mouth. Well, I don’t know about everybody, however, I do know sex toys can go in the mouth as well as in other orifices we have.

So why not ban toxic materials in sex toys?

Unfortunately, there is little research available on the effects of phthalates in sex toys. The sex toy industry is not highly regulated. You see on the back of most packaging, sex toys are often labelled as:

“Sold as a novelty item”.

Meaning it is a gag gift. This is a huge loop hole that needs to be closed. I believe this is because of the shame associated with the product. To a certain extent we still hide our sex toys and our sexual preferences. Thus resulting in a catch 22 situation.  Because of our “shame” and “embarrassment” some sex toy makers take advantage of this and continue to use materials that are potentially dangerous. Granted we have come a long way however we still have a long way to go. Consumers must be protected when it comes to our sexual health. Embarrassment or false taboos should not stop consumers getting the information they need and quality checks being done on sex toys.  It is not illegal to sell toys made with phthalates.

Manufacturers have become aware over the years that we don’t want it any more. The popularity of these sex toys has been decreasing. However to be safe stay away from jelly like, vinyl or PVC toys. If you do have toys made with phthalates place a condom over the toy. To wash simply use toy cleaner or mild soap and water. Only use water based lubes on these products.

Body safe sex toy materials

Now, let me talk to you about sex toy materials that are considered to be body safe.

Silicone

Adult products made from silicone are considered to be latex free and phthalate-free sex toys . They are odourless and have no taste. Many silicone toys are waterproof, despite having batteries or rechargeable insides. This means you can take them into the shower knowing they are safe. The only drawback is you can not use them with silicone based lubes.

Silicone is considered to be one of the safest materials on the market. It is non porous, this means it will not collect dirt or bacteria inside the material. Silicone is used in medical instruments all over the world.

One drawback is that silicone toys can attract dust and hairs very easily, I recommend keeping your toys in a plastic bag or a toy case. Personally, I buy 100% cotton pillow cases to store mine in. 1 pillow case for 1 toy. It works.

If your toy is 100% silicone you can actually boil it on the stove or wash it in your dishwasher to keep it crystal clean. If your toy is not 100% silicone please use sex toy cleaner or soap and water in the shower.

Silicone should feel smooth have no smell or taste. If your toy is 100% silicone, it is 100% skin safe. I buy silicone for peace of mind and the luxury feel.

Glass

I find glass to be one of the cleanest toys around. Most glass sex toys are made out of borosilicate glass.  Basically, like nannas Pyrex baking dishes. When purchasing glass look for a toy with no joins. Glass should be poured in 1 piece. This helps the toy from breaking when dropped.  Glass is smooth and hardy. It can be used in temperature play.  To warm put it in hot water, to cool put it in ice. Please don’t overheat or freeze as this may cause injury to the user. Glass is safe and has no side effects. Please always keep your glass stored in a bag. If your glass toy gets scratched not only will it feel nasty and become a dangerous toy to use the germs can breed in the scratches. Glass is non porous and can be boiled, put it in a dishwasher or use some sex toy cleaner. Any of these options are good. The good news is that you can use any lubes with glass.

Metal

Easily one of the more recognisable and hardy toys. Metal toys are usually made with medical grade stainless steel. You can tell by the quality of the finish. Look for toys that are seamless and are in good condition. Keep your metal toys in material bags. This not only keeps them clean, this stops them from getting scratched. This could result in injury. Be aware of some toys that are combined with nickel. Usually, you can tell as they have some discoloration. Some people are allergic and this can cause a nasty reaction. Metal toys are safe, have no smell or taste and are very easy to clean. To clean they can be boiled, placed in a dishwasher or simply washed and sprayed with some sex toy cleaner. Metal toys are very safe for personal use and last forever. The good news is that you can use any lubricant with metal toys. Like glass, metal can be used in temperature play.

Wood

“Wood?” I hear your question.  Whilst not the first material you think of when it comes to sex toys, there are a few I have seen and they are impressive. These toys actually have the same feel as glass toys. Smooth and cold. Depending on what wood is used the toy can vary in weight.  The toys are finished off with a coat of non-toxic resin. So they are safe to use.  To clean use water only. You do not want to break down the resin as this will break down the toy. Look for seamless toys that have a high quality finish. You can use any lube with wood.

Real feel

Real feel materials are often referred to as Cyberskin, soft skin or ultra-skin. Most masturbators are made of this as well as cock extensions and cock rings. The material is thermoplastic elastomer (TPE). It has a very soft dense feel and can hold warmth once it has been heated. You can heat these toys by putting in hot water or simply by using the products.

These materials are very flesh like and are soft and very flexible. Due to the soft dense like material any vibrations that accompany the toy are usually weak. Whilst TPE has been claimed as a safe material, it is porous. You should watch out for any colour change. This can mean mould is growing on your toy and should be discarded immediately. Due to the personal nature of the toys TPE toys should be changed every couple of months or so. You can only use water based lubricants on TPE. Silicone and oils will break your toy down and leave it feeling sticky and dirty.

I hope this list helps you pick out body safe products the next time you go sex toy shopping!

Author: Leonie is a consultant from Oh Zone Adult Lifestyle Centres

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Jennifer works marketing at Adultsmart an online sex toy shop. She has a non-judgemental approach to sex, sex toys and sexuality. Her favorite saying is if it feels good and right and is not illegal then why not!

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