30 May 2014

What's It Made Of?

Like many sex bloggers out there I'm a big advocate of safe, non-toxic, sex toys, and you might have noticed this from the references scattered throughout my reviews and all across Twitter. Thanks to the work of many dedicated sex educators out there, both in the industry and the blogosphere, people are gaining a much greater knowledge about all the different materials that are used in the production of sex toys. There's an increased awareness of those materials that should be avoided altogether, those that are safe for external use but not recommended for insertion, and those which can be sterilised and shared with a partner vs those which cannot. This is a positive thing, but you can only put any of this to use if you're also knowledgeable about precisely what your toys are made of to begin with, and you'd think that that would be as easy to find out as looking the products up on a retailer's website. As I found out today there's some confusion which makes things not quite so simple.

I was researching some products earlier by the Japanese manufacturer Tenga. Now before I go any further I want to stress that Tenga is a brand that I trust, and it is well known that they use only safe materials in their products. The issue I discovered is that many of the places selling Tenga products aren't really sure what they're actually made of, and as such are passing on the wrong information to their customers.

The first product I searched for was the Tenga 3D, because it's something I've never tried and it piqued my curiosity. I wanted to know exactly what it was made of so that I'd have some idea of how it might feel, but I ended up checking out three different major UK stores because each one came up with a different answer. This surprised me because, like many people, I typically rely on the information presented to me on a product page, so I resorted to going straight to Tenga's own website for the answer. Here's how everything stacked up:

Tenga 3D
In this instance the kudos goes to Simply Pleasure for being the only one to get it right, or at least close enough (*to their credit SexToys.co.uk & Lovehoney do both make mention of an 'antibacterial elastomer' buried elsewhere within their product descriptions, but not in the specific material section - as you'll see in the photos at the end - so it's not at all clear). "Ag Antibacterial Elastomer" still sounds like a bit of a mystery in itself, but my understanding is that it's a proprietary material which uses the addition of silver (hence the 'Ag' if you know your periodic table) to give the antibacterial effect. As it's an elastomer it's still going to be porous, so it's best not to share it, and the silver content probably rules it out for the supernatural contingent of MTV's Teen Wolf.


Moving on from the Tenga 3D I remembered that I'd had some problem ascertaining exactly what the interior of the Tenga Flip Holes was made from, back when I reviewed a couple, so again I compared what Tenga had to say on the matter with three major retailers, and again I found disparities:

Tenga Flip Hole
On this occasion none of them came up with the right answer, which is disappointing. The other issue is that two of them are claiming that the material is silicone when it's not. Silicone is a highly praised material in the sex toy world because it's non-porous and therefore can be sterilised and shared with a partner. TPE on the other hand is porous, and while it's a safe material for a masturbator on the whole, there's potential risk involved in sharing it. Tenga, like Fleshjack, instruct you not to share their products, but there's the possibility here of someone with good material knowledge thinking that it's safe to go against that advice, because they're under the impression that it's made of something it's not.


Finally I thought I'd check out the Tenga Eggs, and you can probably guess my findings already:

Tenga Eggs
Simply Pleasure was the only one to come close to the right answer again, so right now they're in the lead with 2/3 correct. 


I have to say that I really don't know what it is about Tenga products that makes it so difficult for retailers to list their materials correctly. Right now we're sitting on an accuracy rate of 2.5/9, which isn't great, and I don't know what I'd find if I were to check out more products in the Tenga range, or expand my selection of websites to include international ones. What we have learnt today though is that if you want a definitive answer on what a toy's made from, check with the manufacturer directly, or consult a reviewer who's gone the extra mile and done the research for you.

I've included a few screengrabs below of the Tenga 3D results just to illustrate the point, because hopefully the sites in question will amend their information soon.





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