Sex toys are made from many different materials, but which one is right for you and your body? And what should you stay away from? Read more about it here and learn which materials you can choose from
Porous or non-porous
One of the most important things when it comes to choosing the material for your sex toy is whether or not it's porous. When a material is porous, the surface is more absorbent due to microscopic holes. This means that bacteria and liquid is more difficult to remove from the surface and that it cannot be completely sterilized. If you already have sex toys in a porous material, you don't need to panic and throw everything away. But it can be smart to use some kind of barrier, such as condoms, to keep the sex toy more sterile. This can especially be an advantage if you use the sex toy with others, as it cannot be 100% sterilized after use, so there's a risk of passing on infections. In addition, you can clean it both before and after use, so you keep it as clean as possible.
Porous materials include cyberskin, elastomer and various types of plastic. Non-porous materials can be silicone, metal, glass, ABS, acrylic and certain kinds of crystals.
Remember that price typically follows quality, which also applies to sex toys. A higher price can be a guarantee of a body-safe material containing no phthalates or the like. But there can always be exceptions, so remember to check what material the sex toy is made of before you buy!
Silicone is one of the most widely used materials for sex toys, and also the most body-safe. Silicone can be used to create virtually any shape or to cover the surface of e.g. a vibrator, so it feels nice and soft. Silicone has a high density, which makes it great at conducting vibrations. Medical grade silicone is quite common and also the best type of silicone you can get for sex toys, as it is completely non-porous. Silicone is only compatible with water-based lube. Silicone-based lubricant breaks down the surface of silicone sex toys, so don't use that!
Hard plastic: ABS
Many sex toys with a vibrating function are made of hard plastic, due to its ability to conduct vibrations. Hard ABS plastic is non-porous and is compatible with all kinds of lubricants. However, be aware that many sex toys made of ABS plastic can have areas coated with silicone, for example the mouth of clitoral stimulators and the like, and in that case you should only use a water-based lubricant. The Zee bullet vibrator from Dame Products and the Curvy 2+ from Satisfyer are two good options for sex toys made of hard ABS plastic. Zee is all plastic while Curvy is plastic and silicone.
Soft plastics: Elastomer and TPE
Elastomer is a type of plastic that, as the name suggests, is characterized by being very elastic. Elastomer is extremely soft and generally body-safe - it can be a bit porous, so it might be a good idea to use barriers like condoms if you're sharing the sex toy with partner(s).
Another subgroup of soft plastics is thermoplastic elastomer or thermoplastics. This type of elastomer becomes completely soft, almost as if it melts, when heated. Thermoplastic, like elastomer, is body-safe, but slightly porous. The Fierce masturbation egg from Satisfyer is made of hydroactive thermoplastic, which means that the ultra soft effect of the thermoplastic is activated when water is added.
Cyberskin, superskin, etc.
Cyberskin or Superskin are some of the names used for "synthetic skin". This material combines several different kinds in one, such as plastic, rubber and silicone. This means that most synthetic skin is body-safe, but can be sightly porous and also only compatible with water-based lubricant. As with other porous materials, it's a good idea to use a barrier if you're sharing the sex toy with others.
If you want to try synthetic skin, the Flight Commander masturbation sleeve from Fleshlight is made from their own version of synthetic skin; SuperSkin.
Crystal has become increasingly popular as a material for sex toys, thanks to its special blend of pleasure and spirituality. Different stones can have different energies, for example amethyst, whose energy is good with stress and anxiety. Since crystal cannot be sealed, only polished, the surface can be more or less porous, depending on what kind of crystal it is. So it may be a good idea to use a barrier such as condoms if you share your crystal sex toy with others. Crystal is compatible with all kinds of lubricants and is easily cleaned. Be aware that the crystal may break or crack if you drop it with enough force. So make sure to store your crystal in a safe place like in a cloth bag and run your fingers over the surface before use to check for sharp edges.
Steel and aluminum are two typical metals used for sex toys. Both types of metal are non-porous, completely body safe, compatible with all types of lubricants and very easy to clean. Because metal is so hard and much heavier than e.g. a silicone sex toy, it gives a more intense stimulation - the sensation is not for everyone, but can feel great if you are into it. Metal can also be heated or cooled easily with water, which makes it perfect for temperature play. If you want to learn more about temperature play and how to get started, you can read our guide here.
When you think of sex toys made of glass, you might think of the normal kind of thin glass that breaks easily. However, the glass used for sex toys is typically something very different, namely borosilicate glass. The Amber dildo is made of borosilicate, and although it feels delicate in the hand, it's far more durable than normal glass. It's also body safe, non-porous and can withstand large changes in temperature. As with metal, glass is a hard surface that gives you an intense stimulation and can be heated or cooled as needed. Although borosilicate is far more durable than normal glass, it can break if dropped with enough force. If you have dropped it, just check it for cracks before using it!
Acrylic is less common, but is a good choice for material for sex toys as it's typically body safe and non-porous. Acrylic is compatible with all kinds of lubricants and is easy to clean. However, be aware that soap or toy cleaner with alcohol can discolour and deform acrylic sex toys, so this should be avoided. Acrylic can also break or crack if dropped hard enough, so be sure to check for sharp edges before use.
In the past, the jelly/rubber material was very popular for sex toys, partly because it's relatively cheap to produce. Jelly is extremely soft and elastic, but unfortunately many jelly sex toys contain phthalates, which is why it's not body safe. At the same time, the surface is porous, so you cannot sterilize it completely. If you have a sex toy made of jelly material, it is recommended to use it with a barrier or just throw it away - there are far better alternatives that are also body safe. TPE is soft and elastic the same way jelly is, and does not contain phthalates. This little butt plug is made of very soft TPE, and the texture can be called jelly, but without all the harsh additives.