SEX EDUCATION: Sex Toy Materials
Sex toys can be made from just about anything, but typically the most widely used toys are composed of one of the following materials.
Silicone is the ideal material for just about every kind of sex toy. Lifelike with a soft, smooth texture, silicone quickly reaches and retains body temperature, making your sexual experience wonderfully warm and realistic. No hard edges, no snags or imperfections - if you run your fingers over these toys with your eyes closed, you might think you're touching skin. Silicone also cleans up pretty well; it's non-porous, so you can easily wash your toys with soap and water without having to worry about having an allergic reaction. Because you can boil silicone, sex toys made from this material can be fully sterilized and are safe to share. Just make sure you clean them thoroughly between uses. In addition to being durable, silicone toys are nearly hypo allergenic; very rarely do people experience allergic reactions to them. The only drawback to this wonder-material is the price - because silicone toys are hand-cast, they can cost significantly more than their rubber or jelly cousins. If you're looking for a high-quality, realistic toy that will last a long time, silicone is a good way to go.
Thermoplastic Elastomer (TPE)
TPE is commonly used materials due to their ease of manufacturing, cost effectiveness, and unique properties. Combining some of the best of plastic qualities, TPE has the ability to be used in a wide array of adult products. TPE does not need plasticizers to soften the material; therefore it is always phthalate-free. With strong tear strength, TPE can be made very soft without the threat of the product breaking down.
Jelly (TPR Thermoplastic Rubber)
Jelly toys can be quite nice, at nearly half the price of their silicone sisters. While not as smooth or silky as sex toys made from silicone, jelly toys can still bring you a tremendous amount of pleasure. The secret is water-based lubrication - use lots of it. Usually available in bright space-age colors, jelly toys are crafted from a thick, translucent, flexible rubber that isn't quite as jiggly as silicone. In fact, if you stroke a jelly toy with your finger, your digit is liable to stick or skid a little on the material. Another weirdness is the smell of jelly - kind of like warm plastic. Most people don't really mind it, but some sensitive sniffers might not care for the scent. You don't want to use soap or boiling water to clean your jelly toys, just warm water and a gentle touch. Unfortunately, that means these toys aren't safe to share unless you want to use a condom on them, but they're so inexpensive, your partner can just go out and buy his or her own! If you want a smooth, good-quality toy at a reasonable price, try jelly sex toys.
While silicone and jelly are wiggly and wonderful, most sex toys are made out of simple latex rubber. Quite a bit firmer than silicone or jelly toys, rubber toys are still soft and somewhat flexible - but nothing like the real thing. When you play with a rubber dildo, you know it's a rubber dildo. Regardless, latex rubber is very popular because of its low cost, versatility and resilience: it's cheap and it does the job just fine if you aren't too picky. It won't last forever, though. Latex toys wear out much faster than silicone or jelly toys. And because they are very porous, rubber toys can be very hard to clean properly, so no sharing without a condom. Finally, some people are allergic to latex and can't use it at all. Also, rubber latex toys come in a wide range of colors, although "flesh-colored" and black seem to be the most popular. If you're looking for an inexpensive toy that's less likely to smell like chemicals, rubber latex might be your best choice.
Plastic is the big-city cousin of rubber: it's hard, cold and completely inflexible. Think "silver bullet" of adult film fame. However, some people really like plastic ... there's something about the cool, sleek casing and the strong internal vibe. Since many plastic toys have a metallic silver exterior, they have the added bonus of appearing sophisticated and high-tech. Plus, because the motor is encased in hard plastic instead of smooth rubbery material, you can really feel the vibe. Plastic vibes aren't a top pick for internal use or in-out thrusting, but they make wonderful clitoral teasers. To clean it, soak a cotton ball in rubbing alcohol and wipe down your toy. If you're nervous about bringing alcohol in contact with your sensitive genitalia, you can follow the alcohol wipe with a gentle water wipe down. Try a plastic sex toy if you like the sensation of cool metal and a hard, pulsing vibration.
Cyberskin™: Also known as thermal plastic, toys made from this material become warm with use and are the closest thing to skin-to-skin sensation you'll find in a sex toy. One step up from silicone, and the price reflects it. Important to remember: after cleaning, let them dry completely and then dust them lightly with corn starch or Cyberskin Renew. This will keep them life-like.
Metal: Used mostly by S&M aficionados, metal toys are rare and potentially harmful: imagine a metal phallus clanging into your pubic bone. Ouch. Proceed with caution. Also used in PC muscle exercisers.
Vinyl: Similar to rubber, this inexpensive material is a favorite with fetishists.
Acrylic: Its firm texture makes acrylic perfect for PC muscle-strengthening toys.
Lucite: This hard material provides firm pressure, making it a favorite for prostate-stimulating toys.
Leather: Used for harnesses and restraints, many people find leather tough and sexy.