What are “body safe” sex toys?

If you’ve ever been shopping for adult toys, you’ll know that the range of products available is mind boggling. A quick Google search for sex toys turns up thousands of results. But did you know that only a fraction of sex toys are actually safe to use?

In Australia the ACCC provides a set of mandatory manufacture standards for all kinds of products, from pool toys to hot water bottles. But there are no mandatory manufacturing standards for adult toys. This means that in Australia, the production of sex toys is less regulated than the production of bean bags. As a result, companies are free to produce sex toys which aren’t body safe.

What does “Body Safe” mean?
When we talk about toys being “body safe” it means that the toy isn’t dangerous to use on your genitals. There several factors that can render a toy unsafe. A toy might be made of a material that is toxic or which causes a reaction when it comes into contact with the skin. For example, a lot of the soft “jelly” sex toys are choc-full of pthalates. Pthalates can cause skin irritation, chemical burns and more serious damage within the body. A toy might be unsafe because it’s porous surface can become a breeding ground for bacteria. A toy could also be unsafe if it’s design renders it inappropriate for sexual play, such as an anal toy that does not have a flared base.

By now, you might be cowering under your bed, shaking with fear as you think about how badly your next plaything could hurt you. Not to worry! Choosing a body safe toy is easier than you might think. When shopping for a new toy (or examining your existing collection), consider the following points:

What is it made from?
Usually, the thing that renders a toy unsafe is the material that it’s made from. However, a lot of manufacturers are waking up to the fact that consumers don’t want to put toxic materials inside their bodies and there are plenty of affordable, body safe options.

The most common body-safe material is silicone. You can easily find all kinds of toys either made entirely from or coated with silicone. Like jelly toys, silicone comes in a range of textures, densities and colours. Unlike jelly toys, silicone toys are non-toxic and non-porous. Silicone products used to be confined to the “luxury” category of adult toys, but in recent years plenty of budget options have sprung up.

Another excellent body-safe choice is glass. Glass is ideal if you like something that’s very firm, if you enjoy temperature play (as it can easily be heated or cooled) or if you want something that’s aesthetically pleasing. Many glass toys could be displayed as sculptures because they’re so
beautiful. Look for toys that are made of Pyrex or soda glass, as these are durable and scratch resistant.

Stainless steel is another great option if you want something rigid and heavy. Stainless steel toys tend to be a little pricier than glass but a good quality one can last for decades. ABS plastic is also body-safe and is used on many rigid bullet vibrators or wands.

There are some materials that are often body safe, but not always. Stone, crystal or wood is porous unless it is sealed with a non-porous coating. Soft plastics that contain TPE may be non-toxic but can still be porous.

How can I tell what a toy is made from?
The best way to tell is to look at the packaging. If you’re shopping online, most reputable sites will list the materials a toy is made of. If in doubt, send a quick email to the seller or manufacturer.

If you’re checking out a plastic toy that seems suspicious, give it a sniff. Silicone has no scent. Unsafe toys tend to have a plastic or chemical odour. If the sniff test makes you wrinkle your nose, put that toy back on the shelf.

What about butt toys?
Butt toys have to be examined extra closely to ensure they are appropriate for anal play. The anus is surrounded by a ring of powerful muscles that can contract hard enough to pull a toy inside your body. Retrieving the toy can be difficult and may involve a trip to the hospital. To avoid embarrassment and injury, choose anal toys that have a flared base that is wider than the thickest part of the toy. This base will anchor the toy outside your body.

Often anal beads have a handle or cord instead of a base. Before buying a set of beads, give this cord a few very firm tugs to make sure it’s sturdy. Test your beads every time you use them, and throw them away immediately if the retrieval cord splits or frays.

For many of us, toys are an integral part of our sex lives. It’s disappointing that adult toys aren’t well regulated, and that there are dangerous items out there. Carefully choosing toys that are body safe is an important step in protecting yourself and keeping fear out of your bedroom.

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