So when is this whole sex-positive thing going to come into play? Right now.

What’s the Buzz? will be a series of posts, likely interrupted by other posts on other topics, about choosing a vibrator.  We’re going to look at materials, types of vibrators, and companies/vendors.  By the end, I’ll have a decently comprehensive list of toys that should please everyone and, let’s face it, their mom.  Because mom needs some good vibrations too, y’know? On to the toys!

If you’ve never shopped for a vibrator before, you’re in the right place!  I’m going to write this guide as a first-time-buyers’ guide, but hopefully it’ll be helpful to anyone who isn’t particularly well versed in the business of pleasure.  Not sure where to start?  Let’s learn a little bit about materials.

First things first: There are some dangerous materials out there.  You have to watch out for phthalates.  I’m no chemist, but there is an excellent article on phthalates available here from She Bop, a female-friendly sex toy boutique in Portland, OR.

Whew!  Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s look at some safe & sexy materials to start the fun!

100% Medical Grade Silicone: This type of silicone is widely considered to be THE top of the line sex toy material.  Medical grade silicone is phthalate free and is able to be 100% sterilized, so it can be shared with a partner without fear of contamination as long as it is properly cleaned.  As a non-porous material, you can actually clean silicone with a mild soap and water, a special toy cleaner, a heavily diluted bleach solution, boiling it, or running it through the dish washer.  The method you choose will vary with the toy and your living situation, but it is absolutely one of the cleanest materials for a toy that you can possibly buy.  Good silicone has a silky texture and a little bit of give to it.  The only real drawback to a silicone vibrator is that you cannot use silicone lubricant with it at the risk of destroying the silicone of your toy!

Silicone Mixes and Blends: A toy made of a mix of silicone and rubber or silicone and other materials may contain phthalates depending upon the other materials in the mix.  You should always check to see that the toy is listed as phthalate free, unless you buy from a shop (in person or online) that sells only body-safe toys.  My personal favorite right now is Babeland – all of their toys are phthalate free!

Thermoplastic Rubber: Thermoplastic Rubber (TPR for short) is a great material for those who can’t afford silicone or don’t like the firmness of many silicone toys.  TPR has a lot of give to it, and it’s a great material for a beginner’s toy because it’s not firm and intimidating.  TPR is almost jelly-like, but unlike jelly, it doesn’t contain phthalates!  It’s also much easier to keep clean.  I personally recommend using a toy cleaner on TPR because I like knowing that I’m cleaning with something that first, won’t destroy the material, and second, WILL destroy all those little microbes waiting to mess up my vagina.  (The cleaner I have is from Pure Romance, but because they do not list the materials of their toys, I simply cannot advocate making toy purchases through them.)

If you want to purchase a toy that does contain phthalates, know that you should only use your toy with a condom on it, to avoid potential problems with harmful chemicals in your body.  Be extra vigilant in washing your toys if they contain phthalates, as they are also likely to be porous and more prone to holding harmful bacteria.  Again, I do suggest a specialized toy cleaner for those types of toys.

A Note on Lubricants: I recommend using a water based lubricant with all toys, but I will be doing lubricant posts in the future.  It’s very easy to find a good, reliable water based lube, though.  I’ve heard great things about Sliquid H2O and have liked Just Like Me, available from Pure Romance.

I will be back in part two of this series to talk about types of vibrators, so stay tuned!

Safe & sexy,