At Rythm, we are picky about the products we recommend because a healthy and happy vagina means a healthy and happy you. Not only that, but a happy vagina makes for a better relationship and/or sex life.
In order to abide by Rythm’s vetting criteria, toys must be made from one (or a combination) of the eight materials described below.
The key characteristics of these materials that make them preferable are, first, they are nonporous (don’t have tiny holes in the surface), and second, they are not toxic and/or harmful to the body.
100% Medical-Grade Silicone
Medical-grade silicone has many applications in healthcare – it is used to create “implanted medical devices, as well as orthotics, prosthetics, dental, wound care, diagnostics, and drug [delivery] devices.”
Medical-grade silicone has specific qualities that make it ideal for sex toys and pleasure aids. This material is:
- Stable in extreme temperatures
- Resistant to chemical and thermal degradation
- Soft to the touch and conformable
- Hydrophobic which ensures bacteria resistance
- Proven to be a biocompatible material
- The highest grade of silicone on the market
Food-grade silicone is commonly used in, you guessed it, the food and beverage industry in the manufacturing, packing, packaging, transport, or storage of food. In order to be food-grade silicone, it must be approved by the FDA.
Food-grade silicone is:
- Resistant to extreme temperatures
- Resistant to liquids, food oils, and most chemicals, preventing leakages or contamination
- Antifungal and non-stick
- Free of harmful fillers such as BPS and BPA
- Resistant to discoloration
Platinum-grade silicone has many applications and is known for its skin-like texture. That makes this material great for food and pharmaceutical manufacturing in addition to special effects makeup!
This material is referred to as platinum-grade because, in its manufacturing, platinum is used to cure the raw materials that turn into the finished product (rather than another common curing agent, tin, which is cheaper and degrades much quicker).
Platinum-grade silicone is:
- Non-toxic, latex-free, phthalate-free, and hypoallergenic
- Soft and doesn’t require chemical softeners
- Easily sanitized in boiling water
- Chemically stable and long-lasting
ABS plastic, or Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene, is body-safe and non-toxic. Legos are made of this odorless and tasteless material!
Some benefits of ABS plastic sex toys are:
- They carry vibrations very well because it is a hard material
- Provides firm stimulation which is good for the g-spot and prostate
- They maintain their shape
- They’re very durable
Note that no plastic toy can be boiled in the sanitization process.
Though you may feel a bit hesitant to use a glass sex toy, you can rest assured knowing that borosilicate glass is resistant to pressure and thermal shock and has shatter-proof qualities.
Glass toys are non-porous, easily cleaned, beautiful, and have the added benefit of temperature play. You can warm up a glass toy in some warm water or cool it down in the fridge!
A lesser alternative to borosilicate glass is pyrex glass, which is safe to use, but is less durable and should be treated with more care and caution.
Stainless Steel & Metal
Metal toys are great because they are basically indestructible, are non-porous and they are super easy to clean. Plus, like glass toys, they can be used for temperature play! Peachy Vibes says, “Metal toys are perfect for those who seek firmness and pressure as these toys tend to be more heavy.”
Metal toys are also compatible with all lubricants and can be boiled for sanitization.
The ‘Offbeat List’
We have our ‘Offbeat List’ of bad sex toy materials right here for you. Keep in mind that sex toys are unregulated by any governing body and technically anyone can say that their products are body-safe and/or phthalate-free – they can even put it on the package. So, be a smart consumer and save this list to come back to when you are shopping so you can double-check this non-exhaustive but helpful ingredients list.
Materials to avoid when shopping for sex toys include:
- Polyvinyl chloride (PVC)
- Thermoplastic elastomers (TPE)
- Trimethyltin chloride
- Toluene (aka toluol)
If you encounter an unused toy that has an odor, taste, or moisture on it (like morning dew, but grosser), that toy is a no-no.
Finally, be wary of any toys that are advertised as novelties as they might not meet the safety standards you’d like them to.
Remember that a safe toy only remains body-safe when it is properly cared for. I leave you with the final words of advice to make sure your toys remain body-safe: follow the cleaning instructions on the product packaging and/or website, and finally, silicone- and oil-based lubricants should never be used with silicone toys (of any grade).
Gillian ‘Gigi’ Singer, MPH
American Board Certified Sexologist, Sexuality Educator, and Sex Ed Content Specialist