• Discuss: Silicone toy material labelling

    Fenrir [sign in to see picture]
    • Rank: Lieutenant
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    • Joined: 21 Sep 2011

    What I want to discuss here is the material labelling on toys. Being rather inexperienced in buying sex toys, I assumed silicone toys were all 100% silicone. There are many toys out there labelled as "Silicone" but as I've recently discovered, some of these so-called silicone toys can have as little as 10%* silicone in them. Apparently, they can still be legally sold as "silicone". I'd never bought any silicone toy before.

    We recently purchased our first cock ring from LH. I had learnt that silicone was non-porous and far more hygienic than any other soft material, so we decided that we would try to buy only silicone toys from then on. Our new cock ring arrived, ordered with some Oh! points we'd accumulated. The ring we chose was the Super Stretchy Doughnut Silicone Cock Ring. When I unwrapped the packaging, I read the packet and could find no trace of the word silicone anywhere. "Made from TPE material" was written on the back.

    Now, forgive me for being an inexperienced consumer, but when I ordered a "silicone" toy from my trusted retailer, I did not expect to receive something made from TPE.

    If you search "silicone cock ring" on LH, you should see the item I purchased is first in the list. Search "TPE cock ring" and it doesn't even appear.

    The problem here is with the sex toy industry as a whole, both manufacturers and retailers(including LH). TPE can contain some amount of silicone, enough to (apparently) legally allow it to be sold as a silicone toy. But the fact remains, the toy is still TPE, not silicone. It should be labelled and marketed as a TPE toy, not as silicone.

    TPE as a material is much like Jelly and any other soft material. Its recipe could be anything, you just don't know. Although TPE is said to be fairly decent, its still porous. Now for a cock ring, I'm willing to look past this and just accept it for what it is. But had this been a toy for anal play, something for which hygiene is extremely important, I'd have returned it without a second thought. We want to know what chemicals/compounds are going to be in contact with sensitive areas of our bodies, and not worrying about potential side effects.

    This actually reminds me of the recent horse meat carry on. People buying food with horse meat in that wasn't on the list of ingredients. The meat itself was not unsafe (providing it had no horse related medication residing in it), but the fact it was there when it shouldn't of been really upset a lot of people. In the end, authorities stepped in, and many people lost trust in convenience food. Local butchers then laughed all the way to the bank.

    I'm sure we're not the only people caught out by this, so in my opinion, this needs to stop. If the sex toy industry wants to grow and encourage new customers in, it needs to be honest with them. It seems consumers are becoming more aware and less tolerant of things like this in general.

    The current "Silicone" label is often used as another word for quality and will be misleading many people. My suggestion, which I want you all to discuss and voice your opinions on, is that only pure 100% silicone toys be labelled as "Silicone". Non-pure silicone toys should be labelled as "Silicone Mix", "Silicone Based" or even better, the actual material that they are made from. eg. TPE, rubber, latex, etc. I'm sure Lovehoney could adopt this policy fairly quickly if they so desired.

    On the other side of things, there may be 100% silicone toys out there also labelled as "silicone", but unless they say "medical grade silicone", I wouldn't touch them as they could just be another faker.

    Lovehoney - I've already mentioned in an email to you** about this, sorry for my delay in posting on the forums as I had mentioned. I'd be interested to know what was said when it was brought up during a meeting, as I was told was going to happen. Please do the right thing and correctly label your products. Perhaps you should also update your sex toy materials guide to reflect the different types of so called "silicone" products?


    Quote from guide: "Whatever your reasons for being interested in a certain sex toy material, we try to make it as easy as possible for you to find the right toy for you. We always list the materials for each sex toy clearly after the product description..."

    *Be aware, I don't know if 10% applies to UK law or not, it was a US site I was reading and a few weeks ago now. The law is most likely far behind the sex toy industry.

    **Karen from Customer Care, who replied to my suggestion.

    If anything I've said is incorrect, then please correct me and prove it via links if it cannot be easily found via searches. That is all. Please discuss if you agree, disagree and your reasons why. :)

    Janny [sign in to see picture]
    • Rank: Major General
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    • Joined: 17 May 2011

    Are you for real or just taking the piss?

    fistinglover69 [sign in to see picture]
    • Rank: General
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    • Joined: 25 Aug 2011

    This is naughty, if this is what the sex toy industry is doing. I dont actually care what material it is - apart from with dildos as theyre all too hard - and i think im going to start paying attention now!

    Lovehoney - Alice [sign in to see picture]
    • Rank: Field Marshall
    • Posts: 2019
    • Joined: 19 Jul 2010

    Hi Fenrir,

    Thank you for bringing the Super Stretchy ring to our attention - we'll be looking at it today. We'll be checking the product and amending as necessary - looks like a labelling issue (rather than trying to pass TPE off as silicone!) as we aim to be as clear as possible about the materials of products.

    Transparency about materials used is something we're really keen on and is becoming a more pressing issue within the industry even though there is a lack of regulation to enforce certain standards.

    You may be interested in the recently set up not-for-profit organisation http://www.dildology.org/. It was set up by a number of bloggers when they realised that the 'flame test' that they used to varfiy whether something was silicone or not didn't give accurate results. (As an aside, I believe the "medical grade" label is to do with the accreditation of the factory to produce medical equipment rather than a testament to the 'purity' - which is probably best defined as the absence of additives - of the silicone.)

    Alice :-)

    LauraK [sign in to see picture]
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    • Joined: 27 Mar 2013

    Hi! i recently did some research into materials used in sex toys and found it to be really rather confusing. Particularly the fact that so many sex toys say for novelty use, which is something a lot of websites tell you to avoid. However, I think in some cases this is due to state laws in America that affect whether sex toys are legal or something.


    In regards to silicone I found this to be useful http://www.lelo.com/news/lelo-reveals-secrets-to-our-world-famous-smooth-silicone Also I think the difference between food grade silicone and medical grade silicone is the size of the pores in the material, neither are big enough to allow bacteria and viruses to pass through so are safe for use in sex toys. For now I've decided to only buy from brands that are clear on their policies regarding materials used, such as lelo (the only problem is the price!)
    BDSM [sign in to see picture]
    • Rank: Lieutenant Colonel
    • Posts: 216
    • Joined: 14 Feb 2009

    I am so confused by materials and I really think that there needs to be more clarity on this.

    I used to use this http://www.lovehoney.co.uk/product.cfm?p=12532 which although I love to use, it is jelly, and I started reading things about jelly that made me want to replace it, especially as I have used it for anal.

    So I just bought this as a replacement http://www.lovehoney.co.uk/product.cfm?p=16057 When I bought it, I am certain it was described as Rubber. The only reason I was getting rid of my last one (which is just over 1 year old) was to get an alternative to the jelly. The description now says Jelly Rubber. When I received the toy the other day, the packaging says Jelly PVC.

    I contacted LH to to explain what I had done and ask if Jelly and Rubber are the same thing, as I was concerned about the porous nature of Jelly. The reply I got said that they are basically the same thing but jelly is a more flexible rubber and the toy is not porous!!

    What is the truth here? Is jelly and rubber the same thing? Are they both porous? I also have a skin-safe rubber dildo, http://www.lovehoney.co.uk/product.cfm?p=22815 is that porous?

    I am going to return the one I just bought. The previous one is just over a year old so I will recycle that one, but I really don't understand the differences between jelly, jelly rubber, skin safe rubber and rubber!

    I wish I could afford to just buy silicone, but they are so much more expensive and the range is more limited. And I now can't find nice a suction base vibrator that I can use in the shower :(

    Fenrir [sign in to see picture]
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    • Joined: 21 Sep 2011

    Thanks for all the replies so far, keep 'em coming!

    I too am totally confused with all the different types of rubber, jelly, etc, so that's one of the reasons we now try to avoid them. One way of still enjoying your old favourite toys that may be unsafe is simply to use condoms with them. Not to everyone's taste but a solution none the less.

    As far as I know, only pure silicone, metal, glass and maybe some rigid plastics are completely non-porous. Porous toys can't be totally sterilized where as non-porous can all be sterilized either with boiling water or chemicals.

    I also agree that the range of pure silicone toys does seem a bit limited compared to everything else, but I guess this just reflects what people are buying.

    At the end of the day, it's an individuals choice as to how much value they place on their health.

    I suppose the real problem is lack of regulation. We British like our sex toys, so I don't see why our politicians couldn't arrange something.

    I think an email to my local MP is in order. Hmm...

    Janny - Seeing as you seem to find this whole thing a big joke, would you like to explain why you think that? I did invite all sides to this discussion.

    Fluffbags [sign in to see picture]
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    • Joined: 18 Oct 2011

    As Alice mentioned, I would recommend checking out dildology.org and dangerous Lillies blog as a whole, for some great info on sex toy materials, what to avoid and what is being done about it.

    As Lilly points out, its a catch 22 situation with regards to bringing in the FDA and forcing more regulation. On the one hand you have safer toys, on the other hand, those toys will become so much more expensive due to covering all the extra expenses. So it is almost the case that self regulation works best. Companies that do their own research, inform the customer well and work hard to promote safe sex toys, and bloggers/reviewers and other people (Like dildology) in the industry recommending who to avoid and which products are great and safe to use. Seriously worth checking out dildology.org.

    I think a lot more companies are staring to notice a huge trend in consumers seeking body safe sex toys and they are moving with it too. In this day and age, with the internet spreading information as fast as a click of a button it is in their best interests to move with their consumers and you can see that with the addition of detailed product information added to products for sale and companies seperating toys into "phthalate free" catagories and other companies going the whole hog and only selling body safe toys. Then comes the balance they have to face of being able to offer high quality body safe sex toys that are tested and checked every step of the way, and still being able to offer cheap alternatives to customers on a budget.

    I agree though that customers should be given a more informed choice and half the time you never know what exactly is in the sex toy. As Alice said, manufacturers can write "pure premium medical grade silicone" on a package and you still cant be sure that guarantees 100% pure silicone. there are no regulations in place to stop a company from doing this. At the moment, the best thing you can do is your own research (reviews, blogs, wiki, other websites or books) and then make an informed decision yourself.

    Fenrir [sign in to see picture]
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    • Joined: 21 Sep 2011

    Yes, Cameron speaking about sex toys would be a sight to behold, haha.

    I did check out dildology, but they have tested very few products to date. That's the problem with complete self regulation, without money behind a project like that, it can't go far enough. It sort of reminds me of a very primitive drinkaware.co.uk for alcohol, which is on just about every alcohol product I've ever looked at. Saying that, Lily seems to know her stuff and is making good progress. Will definitely keep a watch on her blog.

    "As Alice said, manufacturers can write "pure premium medical grade silicone" on a package and you still cant be sure that guarantees 100% pure silicone. there are no regulations in place to stop a company from doing this."

    If that's true, rules and regulation to prevent mis-selling should be enough. At least that way, companies would risk being held accountable if they lied. Self regulation could take care of the testing if they can afford to. If.

    We don't need to force safer and more expensive toys, but maybe just a little warning on potentially unsafe products, or a quick note about using it safely.

    Oh, and an update about silicone vs silicone mixes on Lovehoneys own material guide *HINT* *HINT* wouldn't go a miss.

    Fluffbags [sign in to see picture]
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    • Joined: 18 Oct 2011

    Dildology only just started this week

    Well, I am pretty sure that they have been working hard to get it ready for months but it just went live this week (or last) very recently anyway. I also believe Lovehoney are supporting the cause, but yeh they do need donations to roll in and it seems a lot of people in the community are rallying around to support them so keep your fingers crossed that soon they will be working hard to test toys.

    Sometimes it isnt easy for a company like lovehoney to know what is in the products. They buy stock from many different brands made from many different companies and those companies have manufacturers elsewhere that produce the product and can often change ingredients without telling the companies they sell too, or products get bought from other companies and repackaged and rebranded. .....its kinda like a chinese whispers of what the hell! lol I do really like that lovehoney do have a section to say whether a product is "phthalate free" and "latex free" and the fact they support dildology says they care.

    I agree with you that all toys should be made completely body safe. Its going to be a slow journey but things are slowly changing by the looks of it.

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