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Are your sex toys safe?

A body-safe Lelo vibrator | How safe are your sex toys?

A body-safe Lelo vibrator

*spits out Lambrini* What? Is this blog becoming the Daily Mail or something? 

Sorry. I didn’t mean to alarm you there. It’s just that I want to talk about phthalates and I didn’t think it would make the most appealing blog title ever.


Well, no. I always think that, if you’re going to give something a name, you may as well follow at least some of the basic laws of prononciation. 

Quite. But I suspect that one of the reasons we’re not talking about phthalates (I’m going for thay-lates but I’m really not sure) is because it’s such an ungainly word. And they’re pretty nasty things.


Go on then. Tell me what I’ve got to be worried about this time. 

Phthalates are chemicals that are added to plastics for flexibility, durability and colour retention. They contain synthetic xenoestrogens, which behave like natural oestrogen. For this reason, they’re hormone-disruptors in both men and women.

In large quantities, their use is banned in the UK and US; but smaller concentrations are still allowed. Despite this ban, there’s considerable evidence that they’re entering our bodies, and being stored in them. A study by the US Center for Disease Control found phthalates in most people’s urine that they tested.

The effects of phthalates are myriad. They have been shown to increase asthma and allergies, but their most notable effect is in disrupting normal hormonal cycles. This leads to increased incidence of breast cancer, infertility in both men and women, endometriosis, miscarriage, premature birth…the list goes on.

And the really great news is that we’re willingly putting these chemicals inside our vaginas.



Yup. You know all those cute, jelly-plastic sex toys (like the ubiquitous Rabbits)? They get their soft, wobbly finish from phthalates.

What makes this an especially bad idea? Well, electrical contacts may heat them, which makes the phthalates escape more effectively; and your vagina (and rectum, by the way) is a mucous membrane, which means that it’s more absorbent than your external skin. You know the story about Stevie Nicks and how she ingested cocaine, yes?


Sigh. So I have to throw out my very best friend, Mr Rabbit?

(I’m going to gloss over the fact you’ve anthropomorphised your vibrator for now. But don’t think I didn’t notice).

It’s probably a good idea. Even if you’re not concerned about your own health, there’s evidence that phthalates can affect the fertility of your future children, too.

The good news is that there’s an increasing number of safe alternatives. They’re rarely at bargain-basement prices, but, really, you only ever need one vibrator and a decent one will be a friend of years.

Unlike your Mr Rabbit, who’s often all talk.


What brands should I look out for?

Look out for toys that are made from silicone or say ‘phthalate-free’ or ‘body safe’ on the packaging.

I love Lelo, who create really well-made, stylish toys that have a long charge and a good level of buzz. Fun Factory do some great, creative products. I also recently tested Smile Makers, who are the cheeky chappies of the sex toy world.

Jo Divine is a lovely online store that only stocks phthalate-free toys.


Are there any other precautions I should take? 

Definitely, without a doubt, throw out any toy that’s scratched, cracked or broken, because this will encourage the phthalates to leach out (and let’s not get started on the bacteria that scratches can harbour).

Also, pay especial attention to toys and devices that you keep in your body for extended periods of time – such as butt plugs and vaginal weights. Although I’m not sure that vaginal weights are a very good idea anyway, but that’s another story.

While we’re at it, there are plenty of nasties (including phthalates and parabens) in lubricants too. I personally always recommend Yes lubes, because they’re full of natural ingredients (and their oil-based lube is so luscious that I use it on my dry elbows).

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Smile Makers

I just had to share these with you all: ‘the friendliest collection of vibrators on the planet.’

Smile Makers take a fresh approach to electronic pleasure, shunning the traditional ‘sex-ay’ brand image in favour of something much more fun, fresh and humorous.

Each vibe in the range is named after someone you might fantasise about – The Fireman, The Tennis Coach, The Millionaire and the Frenchman. And they all have different specialisms too – it’s great to see a range think properly about external sensation (whilst avoiding the noisy rummaging of the Rampant Rabbit).

I think they’re rather lovely.

You can buy them online at comeplaywithus.com where they also have a v amusing Fantasy Man Generator.


After this post appeared, Smile Makers were kind enough to send me a sample of all four.

I can confirm they’re as lovely as they look – silky-smooth phthalate-free silicone, ice-cream colours and cute packaging. They are pleasingly small, and are battery-operated, which gives them a good buzz without being overwhelming.

I particularly like The Fireman and The Frenchman, both of which offer external simulation. The Frenchman is the less intense of the two, and its soft silicone ‘ear’ is perfect for anyone who’s used their vibrator through a towel because it’s a bit too much otherwise (i.e. me).


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Fun Factory Delight

On this blog, we like a little repurposing. Using things for their intended purpose is bor-ing. Where’s the fun in that?

This is why the DeLight is the best toy I’ve tried in ages. Not for its stated purpose of G spot stimulation. For my tastes, I’d like something a little firmer.

Nope, instead the DeLight is the perfect all-round vibrator/dildo for people like me. The soft silicone tip dips lusciously into your vagina without posing any threat to a fragile or premenstrual cervix.

Meanwhile, the vibration unit is positioned to sit on your labia and clitoris – so the vibration isn’t wasted on the inside of your vagina. There’s also a nice little bump to rev up the clitoral stimuation.

The hooked handle sits comfortably and intuitively in your hand, and you use it in a rocking motion. What a stoke of genius – a vibrator that caters for all the elements of a female orgasm, rather than just mimicking a vibrating penis.

Although you have to buy the charger separately, it works across all Fun Factory toys, and the clever magnetic technology means that you can take your DeLight into the shower.

I think I might be in love.


The DeLight costs £82 from Jo Divine


Blogger disclosure: This product was a free sample. All reviews on bettyherbert.com are unbiased and honest.

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Made To Pleasure

Now, I know that readers of this blog are extremely discerning. You know exactly what you like, right down to the finest detail.

That’s why I think you’ll love Made To Pleasure. Basically, they make very posh dildoes, but it’s much cleverer than that.

MTP toys come in an intriguing range of shapes, which are aimed at targeting the different places that you might feel pleasure. The Ellipse, for example, teases the entrance of the vagina, whilst the Taper is aimed at cervical stimulation. There are, of course, also all-rounders like the Ripple.

They come in three finishes – acrylic, gold- or silver-plated. Yes, that’s right: gold-plated.

But what I like the most is the careful thinking around vibration. MTP argue that it’s your clitoris that wants to feel the vibes, not the inside of your vagina. So each of their toys comes with its own, separate, vibrating bullet, so that you can get the best of both worlds. Now, why hasn’t anyone thought of that before?

MTP also offer a Made To Measure option, which allows you to design a toy to your own specification on their nifty website. So, those of you who have reached princess-and-the-pea levels of discernment can finally find your Prince Charming. Which significantly mixes my fairytales, but you get my point.



Orders need to be placed by 1st February to guarantee delivery by Valentine’s Day.


Blogger disclosure: I did not receive any free samples or payment for this review; I initiated it myself.

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