Not a Sex Toy

Lovehoney shines light on objects used for masturbation in ‘Unbannable Ad’ series

For us, trying to imagine a world without sex toys is like trying to imagine Easter without a Rabbit, or a Rose without a thorn ... see, we can’t even do it!

We know, however, that in times of darkness when our bodies have been calling to us and we have had to answer, there isn’t always a sex toy within reach. And when your hands alone just won’t cut it, what do we turn to?

Our research found that 41% of adults are using everyday objects in place of sex toys - not only do you deserve better, but their use could be genuinely dangerous. As an homage to these items that are definitely Not A Sex Toy, Lovehoney has created a series of billboards featuring the objects to serve as a warning, and a reminder that the real thing just hits different.

We've dubbed the billboards as the "Unbannable Ads" - because advertising guidelines restrict what they consider to be 'explicit content', we have been forced to get creative with the items on display, just like everyone who has used one of the below items had to.

The naked truth

In order to find out what household items people have been using to masturbate with when they couldn’t get their hands on the real thing, Lovehoney asked 2,054 people in the UK this exact question, in a 2023 nationally representative survey¹.

Everyone says this, but the results really will shock you, as it was found that pillows are the most common object used for masturbation other than sex toys, with 14% of respondents doing so. The results varied between men & women that were surveyed, with the results showed below.

The Results

Not a Sex Toy | Unbannable Ad | Pillow Billboard

Objects used by people identifying as female:

  1. Pillow – 17% (have used this to masturbate with)
  2. Hairbrush – 15%
  3. Electric toothbrush – 10%
  4. Food item – 6%
  5. Mobile phone – 5%

Objects used by people identifying as male:

  1. Sock – 14%
  2. Pillow – 12%
  3. Mobile phone – 11%
  4. Rubber glove – 7%
  5. Food item – 5%
Not a Sex Toy | Unbannable Ad | Toothbrush Billboard

As you can see, the sock reigned supreme for male masturbation, while the pillow is the object of choice for female pleasure. We don’t even want to know about ‘rubber gloves’.

Women between the age of 18-24 were found to be the most inventive, with more than a third (35%) using a pillow to masturbate with, and as many as 29% using a hairbrush in place of a dildo.

Lovehoney's Sex & Sexual Health Expert, Sarah Mulindwa said:

“We’re all about creativity in the bedroom, but it’s important to keep it safe: using regular household objects that aren’t designed for bodies can be risky. Using items like hairbrushes, mobile phones, and pillows to satisfy your sexual needs could lead to injuries, infections or other problems. If you are going to try out a homemade sex toy, it’s important to read up on how to do it safely - but I’d always advise opting for a purpose made sex toy, as you know it’s made out of safe materials and crafted specifically for use in the bedroom.”


Not a Sex Toy | Unbannable Ad | Cucumber

By bringing these objects to life, not only is Lovehoney showing the bizzare items people are using to get off, but we are also highlighting the strict censorship that our industry faces on a day-to-day basis.

You see, just like those of you that are forced to use a pillow to masturbate with as you are unable to use a sex toy, we are being forced to use pillows, mobile phones, and cucumbers in our advertising as we are also unable to use sex toys.

Sarah Mulindwa added:

“Sex toys are made using body-safe silicone or other safe materials, and go through rigorous and extensive testing to ensure that they are safe to use on your bodies. Unsurprisingly, household objects have not gone through this process, so you’re better off just using your hands if you don’t have a sex toy, and for the love of God don’t put anything up your bum that doesn’t have a flared base!”

Despite the well-documented benefits of using a sex toy – and sexual wellbeing in general – we still face extreme levels of censorship from Google, Meta, and basically every avenue of advertising. This is one of the reasons that we have created the Unbannable Ads, which you can see in all their glory.

1 Lovehoney nationally representative study carried out by Lucid/Cint in July 2023, with 2,054 respondents over the age of 18. Question was “Which object(s) (if any) have you used to masturbate with?” Sex toy answers excluded.