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Beginner's Guide to Sex Toy Materials

When it comes to choosing your perfect sex toy, the material is just as important as the power, price and function.

From silicone to glass and PVC to plastic, there are lots of different sex toy materials available, each with their own benefits.

What feels good for one person may not feel so hot for another. Some people have allergies to materials like latex or nickel, while others have strong preferences about whether their toy is rigid or soft. Whatever your reasons for being interested in a certain sex toy material, we've broken down the need-to-know facts in this handy guide.

Glass

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Glass sex toys are popular due to their versatility and beautiful appearance. Glass sex toys have the ability to be heated up or cooled down to enhance your pleasure and have a firm, rigid feel that offers sensual pressure similar to metal.

Made of ultra durable borosilicate glass, sex toys made of this material are exceptionally durable and won't shatter when dropped. They're also very easy to clean with just hot water.

  • Compatible with: Water-based and silicone lubricants.
  • Feel: Smooth and rigid.
  • Smell: Odourless.
  • Taste: Tasteless.
  • Does not contain phthalates. Does not contain latex.

Jelly Rubber

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Jelly rubber is one of the cheapest materials around and can be shaped and colored to almost any specification. It has been widely used to make sex toys for years but has seen a dip in popularity due to outstanding confusion surrounding phthalates, chemicals which are added to rubber to make it flexible. Not all jelly rubber toys contain phthalates so always check our toy specifications to be sure.

Skin-safe rubber is now often used as a substitute for jelly rubber, offering similar properties but without phthalates. If you're going to use jelly sex toys, make sure you cover them in a condom first and never store them together - the materials will react and they'll melt!

  • Compatible with: Water-based and silicone lubricants.
  • Feel: Smooth, rubbery and flexible.
  • Smell: Strong rubbery smell.
  • Taste: Slight chemical taste.
  • May contain phthalates. Contains latex.

Latex

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Latex is a form of rubber that can be made into some amazingly stimulating shapes. Latex is often used in inflatable sex toys due to its amazing flexibility and is also used to make latex rubber clothing.

Latex feels flexible and has a smooth finish that can be polished with silicone lubricant or latex shiner to give it a glossy, wet-look finish.

Latex requires some TLC when it comes to cleaning. Ensure you spray it with an antibacterial sex toy cleaner and dry it thoroughly before sprinkling with a renewer powder. The renewer powder will help the rubber stay soft, supple and flexible.

  • Compatible with: Water-based and silicone lubricants.
  • Feel: Smooth, rubbery and flexible.
  • Smell: Slight rubbery smell.
  • Taste: Slight rubbery taste.
  • Does not contain phthalates. Contains latex (surprisingly).

Metal

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Metal has all the qualities needed for a brilliant sex toy - it's non-porous, waterproof, skin-safe, compatible with all lubricants and extra durable.

However, being made of solid stainless steel, metal sex toys tend to be quite heavy and the rigid feel is a little too much for some. Fans of firm pressure will love their heavy weight and the effect this has on their sexiest spots.

  • Compatible with: Water-based and silicone lubricants.
  • Feel: Smooth, cold and rigid.
  • Smell: Odourless.
  • Taste: Tasteless.
  • Does not contain phthalates. Does not contain latex.

Hard Plastic

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Hard and hygienic, rigid acrylonitrile butadiene styrene plastic (ABS plastic to me and you) is a favourite material in vibrating bullets and classic vibes. Plastic transfers vibrations extremely well and allows firm, strong stimulation. It's also compatible with all lubes and easy to clean.

If you prefer a velvet touch but want the same firmness, look for smooth coated plastic. This is ABS plastic that has been given a smooth rubber-based or polyurethane coating.

  • Compatible with: Water-based and silicone lubricants.
  • Feel: Smooth, hard and strong.
  • Smell: Odourless.
  • Taste: Tasteless.
  • Does not contain phthalates. Does not contain latex.

Soft Plastic (Realistic Feel)

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Realistic feel is a very broad term for sex toys made with materials that are designed to be natural in both look and feel. CyberSkin, Real Feel Super Skin, Better-Than-Real, Fanta Flesh and Sensafirm are some proprietary names for essentially the same elastomer-based material.

Buying a realistic feel sex toy such as a Fleshlight, will give you an ultra life-like experience - it even retains heat to keep it at body-temperature!

Realistic feel materials are porous, so it's important to clean them thoroughly and powder them with corn starch or a renewer powder to keep them soft.

  • Compatible with: Water-based lubricants only.
  • Feel: Firm, tactile and life-like.
  • Smell: Strong rubbery smell.
  • Taste: Rubbery taste.
  • Check individual descriptions for latex and phthalates content.

Silicone

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Silicone is often used in designer sex toys and is championed for its non-porous finish and hypoallergenic properties.

Many sex toy companies are now turning to silicone as their main material choice as it's easy to clean, feels fantastic and lasts a long time. Silicone sex toys such as the beautiful Happy Rabbit or Lelo ranges, can be firm, flexible or rigid and are so long lasting, you may never need to replace them.

You shouldn't use silicone lubricants with silicone sex toys. Silicone lubricants my degrade the material of your sex toy, so stick to water-based lubricants.

  • Compatible with: Water-based lubricants only.
  • Feel: Smooth and beautifully shaped.
  • Smell: Odourless.
  • Taste: Tasteless.
  • Does not contain phthalates. Does not contain latex.