The first time I walked into a sex shop, I felt a bit overwhelmed. I had no idea there would be so many different options available that were focused around pleasure. All I had wanted was a simple vibrator, and I walked away with a battery-operated pink vibrator, a realist toxic penis and some lube I’d later discover I was allergic to. I hadn’t really done any research before, and I had been so overwhelmed that I didn’t even really know what to ask the salesperson. I think I was in the shop for a good 45 minutes before deciding to even pick up anything.
The same can be said for online shops. There are so many new ones popping up, it can be an overwhelming experience. The good part about online shops is that there can be a much larger variety of products to choose from. The bad part about online shops is that there can be a much larger variety of products to choose from.
Andy and I come across quite a few sex shops on a weekly basis – we tend to avoid the in-person shops but we do know our way around an online shop pretty well. If you’re clicking on your very first online sex toy shop or if you’re experimenting with a new one, we have some tips that will help you decide which shops to buy from.
1. Gender Neutral Labels
One of my biggest pet peeves is when people gender products for absolutely no reason. It’s 2017 and companies need to get on board with the fact gender is non-binary and that gender identity doesn’t always correspond with a certain set of genitals. A vibrator can be used in so many ways that there is no reason to gender it as female. A masturbation sleeve doesn’t necessarily have to be a male product. You can also use most toys while with a partner, which makes most toys a ‘couple’s toy’. If you’re looking for a really, really great sex toy shop then you should check to see if they have gendered their products or not. This doesn’t totally rule a shop out for us as the moment, but we much prefer supporting shops that respect that people can pleasure themselves in whichever ways they desire.
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2. Safe Toy Materials
I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to purchase safe toy materials. You can read more on our fairly comprehensive material guide. Quick refresher for safe products: silicone, glass, wood (with proper finishing), metal and ABS plastic. Quick refresher for unsafe products (due to pores or toxic additives): TPE, TPR, Jelly and PVC. If a company stocks a large amount of ‘jelly’ toys than you can almost guarantee they aren’t concerned about your health. Jelly toys are fairly prominent on many websites because they are cheap. Your genitals/mouth/everything will be happy that you didn’t purchase these toys. A good online shop will limit their unsafe toys and they will clearly label the materials on every product description.
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3. Lubricant Ingredients
Much like sex toy materials, there are also lubes that aren’t so great for genitals. You would think companies would want to help their consumers, but unfortunately there are so many companies that don’t care or don’t put the research into their products to ensure they are safe. It is always important to check the ingredients in a lubricant before purchasing it, and getting to become familiar with what each ingredient is. If the shop doesn’t list the ingredients, then stay away.
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4. Anal Safe Toys
One of the easiest ways to check if a company cares about its consumers is to check the anal toy or butt plug sections. Anything that is intended for insertion into the anus absolutely requires a flared base. If a product does not have a flared base, then it can be ‘sucked’ into the anal cavity. There’s a whole lot of intestine that you don’t want becoming familiar with a sex toy. If you head to the anal product section and see toys without a flared base, just close the tab immediately.
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5. Discreet Shipping
As much as we’d love for there to be no stigma attached to ordering sex toys, society just isn’t there yet. People are often terrified that their package is going to have “DILDO” across the top of it. Make sure that the shop indicates that they provide discreet shipping and discreet credit card purchases. It should really clearly indicate how the charge will appear on your credit card.
Bonus: Contact for Help
If you’re not sure about an individual product or if you’re not sure about the site itself, then you can always send an e-mail to them. If you get a timely reply, that’s a good sign. If you get a timely reply with helpful information, that’s an even better sign. If a company has gone through the process of choosing safe products, then they will know the answer to your question or they will try to find it out for you.