Materials of sex toys - silicone, TPE, TPR, PVC, leather, liquid silicone, etc. Description of characteristics, qualities and negatives.
Market share of sex toys for introduction into the body (estimated)
Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) in different grades 50%
silicone 10% (3% liquid premium platinium silicone)
the rest latex, glass and metal
Chemical character and substance properties
Silicone belongs to the group of elastomers, ie substances with high elasticity, consisting of polymers (large molecules) based on silicon, oxygen and hydrocarbons, commonly called rubber. It is produced by vulcanization, ie a process whereby the original fluid material acquires viscosity (cohesiveness) while partially maintaining the elasticity of the original fluid by forming a web of bridges between polymers at higher temperatures (130-160 ° C) and pressures and using other additives and accelerators. This classifies it as a group of thermoset elastomers (term given for consistency with TPE information above). Material free of toxins, allergens and pores with the lowest risk of settling impurities or infections. Silicone toys in the strict sense (ie with a high silicone content) make up a relatively small percentage, even within their product category, with an estimated 10%. Sometimes TPE devices (mix of silicone and PVC) are often misleadingly described as silicone, which is not much to do with, as even medical silicone (biocompatibility tested) has no clear criteria regarding the percentage of silicone. High quality silicone has less odor than normal PVC or TPR, full to bewitching color with a low degree of gloss (black is truly black violet fully purple, etc.). Silicone has an unexpectedly smooth rubber surface to the touch. Unlike PVC, it seems to be almost non-porous for skin. Silicone devices without electrical components can be sterilize by boiling.
Medical, medical silicone (classic old silicone) since 2000
Medical silicone is the classic hard silicone that has been on the market for several decades. It is a high-quality silicone suitable for skin and mucous membranes. But he is very hard - 60-70HC and is only used for plastic frame vibrators - vibrating eggs, massage heads and smaller size vibrators.
Liquid silicone and Platinium / Premium silicone since 2017
Soft silicone with hardness approx 7-30HC for which the designation is most often used Liquid silicone or Platinum silicone whose Premium silicone. In the Extasica sex shop we call it Liquid silicone and we reserve Premium or Platinium Silicone to denote the highest quality silicones, i.e. the smoothest silicones with ideal hardness 4-12HC. It has been on the market since 2017 and is used for dildos and realistic vibrators. It is smoother and harder than TPE realistic skin, but less smooth and much softer than older medical silicone. Unlike medical silicone on it all lubricating gels can be used. That is, not only water- and oil-based, but also silicone-based. Liquid silicone is about 2x to 3x more expensive than TPE. The mechanical properties, i.e. softness and elasticity, are the same as TPE, but the material retains them for a long time (both TPE and PVC harden). This is the best material for making implantable sex toys, if we are not looking at money. Other benefits are in the general Silicone section above.
Liquid silicone is usually single layer. Similar to top TPE products, higher quality products have a hard inner layer and a soft outer layer. The human penis also has a similar 2-layer structure - internal hard spongy tissue covered with soft skin. But if the liquid silicone is soft enough (5-10HC or up to 20 HC for smaller gadgets), the second layer is not necessary at all and can rather have a negative impact on consistency and durability.
Attention: There is no consensus on the liquid, premium, platinum silicone markings described below, and manufacturers may confuse them in various ways. The classification shown by us is intuitive and valid in our store.
Liquid silicone (basic)
Basic liquid silicone also pulls on the skin and shines, but less so than PVC. It is fundamentally different from PVC and TPE by the complete absence of any odor. It is used, for example, by the manufacturer Faak. Hardness 12-16HC.
This silicone forms the mainstream of liquid silicone toys. E.g. known mr. Hankey Toys or a manufacturer offered by us DreamSex or our dildo Ecstasy design and most global (ie Chinese) producers. These dildos usually have a basic hardness of approx 5-20HC. In terms of touch (smoothness, pulling on the skin), they are at the level of high-quality TPE realistic leather, but completely odorless.
Platinium silicone is a liquid silicone product whose surface is smoothed with oil, according to our information. But no avenue remains on the surface. The product labeled platinum silicone is completely smooth like skin. It doesn't tug at the skin at all. It consists of only about 5-10 % liquid silicone products. These products are supplied, for example, by the manufacturer Mrimin for dildos, pins and vibrators and erection rings.
Since 2019, liquid platinium silicone has been used rather exceptionally for small vibrators and vibrating eggs. These are unlike classic silicone vibrators. They do not have ABS plastic reinforcement like the original silicone vibrators and liquid platinium premium silicone directly covers the electronics and battery. Vibrators made of this material in 2019 make up only about 1% market.
Attention: Sometimes manufacturers also refer to hard medical silicone with hardness as liquid silicone 20 HC and more. This is the hardness of soft and medium-soft plastics, and the adjective "liquid" loses a bit of meaning here. These are mainly dildos produced in several colors, including black, magenta or purple. My silicone dildo of this hardness (20–40 HC) we refer to as simple (medical) silicone.
TPE, (realistic leather, cyberskin, realskin, softskin, trueskin, UR3, etc.)
TPE - Thermoplastic elastomers are a mixture of plastics (made from petroleum) and thermoset elastomers (see silicone) and other substances. Flexibility is achieved by repeatedly melting and cooling them. This more modern method of producing elastomers has been used since the 1950s. In contrast to vulcanized elastomers (see silicone for more information), in addition to significantly higher flexibility, they are easier to shape, color, and allow reuse (melting). This means cost savings during production by using scraps and easier recycling after the service life. TPE compared to PVC, they do not pull on the skin (less porous) and are also less shiny, rather completely shiny and, compared to PVC, almost or completely odorless. Does not contain toxins (phthalates) and allergens. TPE is less porous than PVC and more porous than silicone. Some PVC (and TPE) etch each other if they are in contact for a long time (several hours or more). Therefore, separate storage is recommended.
Beyond the above, the material is not more precisely defined, for example in terms of the proportion of plastics and other substances, or in terms of elasticity and softness. Nor does it have to be possible to stretch them at least twice their length. Hardness The TPE of sexual aids usually ranges from 0 to 30HC. Unfortunately, even the manufacturers of aids themselves know nothing about the composition. They take the material as a finished product or in the form of a semi-finished product - 2 different materials, which they heat up and mix before casting. Prices are relatively high - in Europe about 8 Euros per kg when taken in hundreds of kg, but in China much less.
Realistic leather (CyberSkin, RealSkin, SoftSkin, TrueSkin, UR3, etc.)
Soft TPE to hardness 10 HC used for soft dildos, vibrators and sex dolls.
TPR, TPR gel, Silagel
Relatively cheap toys made of a mix of PVC and silicone. They pull less on the skin than PVC and usually have a lower odor, roughly like children's toys. Harder than TPE. Contains no allergens or toxins (phthalates).
Public sources and quality manufacturers often use the interchangeable name thermoplastic rubber-TPR for TPE. Sometimes TPR is taken as a superset of TPE and other synthetic rubbers, and sometimes as a slightly inferior material to TPE. In practice, it is also often used by suppliers-wholesale companies and final sellers for products with properties characteristic of PVC. We will not offer these toys in our store from 2022.
These aids must be stored separately from other PVC or TPE aids, otherwise they will stick to each other.
PVC - Polyvinyl chloride
Character and disadvantages: Higher porosity of PVC means higher risk of dirt and bacteria settling and also pulls more by the skin. In practice, this also means higher susceptibility to stool coloring and stool odor settling. Other disadvantages are the risk of allergic reactions and phthalates (toxins). In 2006, the Greenpeace study identified phthalates in 7 PVC sex toys from 8. The topic is currently very lively rather artificially in terms of marketing, but in older stores in sales we still commonly see things as old as 15 years. A certain indication of toxins may be plastic odor in combination with perfuming or burning of the mucosa during use. PVC tools are harder (30-50HC). Our offer does not allow eg dildos made of stiff plastic (over hardness 40 HC). Some PVCs (and TPEs) etch each other if they touch each other for a long time (several hours or more). Separate storage is therefore recommended. Silicone does not suffer from this. Virtually all PVC aids smell and shine as compared to other materials.
Advantages: Price, durability, inexpensive maintenance, freedom in the use of gels. E.g. large anal plugs and dildos are, with some exceptions, made of PVC.
In the products, there are significant differences from gels in hard anal beads and pins that can even cut, through inferior smelly rigid dildos. Exceptionally, it is possible to come across very pleasant, odorless, visually and emotionally relatively high-quality realistic bibs with a slight odor. We are already placing them in the TPR. PVC is used by everyone from Chinese manufacturers to the formerly very reputable manufacturer Doc Johnson. Considering this, it is understandable that approximately 50% sellers try to somehow differentiate themselves in this broad category by e.g. renaming PVC to vinyl, which is the same thing. At Extasica, we do not offer PVC toys from the end of 2022.
Maintenance: Water and silicone based gel. After testing a few tens of minutes and accepting the possible risk of stool staining, oil-based gels or deer tallow are basically possible. But then it hardens over time.
Synthetic imitation leather (ears) of PVC or polyurethane. Artificial leather includes so-called eco leather or PU leather. We clean them with a damp cloth or soapy water.
Bonded leather or reconstitued leather.
It is a combination of the reverse thin layer of residual natural fibers with a suede structure glued to polyurethane (face) with an artificial structure simulating the appearance of leather. These hides are of the lowest quality, worse than quality artificial hides, usually hard, covered with PVC and we call them as basic artificial hides. Some stores pointlessly call them genuine leather.
PU leather, eco leather, faux leather: These artificial polyurethane skins are softer and more comfortable than the blended PVC skins above.
more separate article How to identify real skin
Natural (vegetable) or synthetic low cost rubber. Latex is very porous and therefore easily retains bacteria. He pulls slightly less on the skin than PVC. It has a relatively low odor at the level of better PVC. A condom is recommended for use. It may also be allergenic, even partially, ie not to your skin (eg the penis), but only to your mucosa (vagina, rectum, gum). Even some kind of latex can cause problems for a particular person. Latex intimate toys (for introduction) are rather rare and the material is used rather for condoms, SM clothing or even medical gloves. It allows gels based on both water and silicone (not oil-based; deer tallow is also unsuitable).
ABS plastic and toys with electrical engineering
Hard plastic mostly used for small vibrators or as reinforcement for silicone vibrators. Does not contain phthalates and allergens. After use, rinse (except for skin and parts with cables and electronics) with warm water and soap, dry.
Most often ordinary steel in zinc or chrome (possibly nickel, which, however, due to its toxicity must not be used in objects intended for long-term contact with the skin, i.e. especially jewelry and clothing). It is not suitable for dildos or handcuffs due to its hardness. It is used as connectors in leather toys and separately for various clinics (gynecological mirrors) or urethral toys (these are mostly stainless steel), of course for electrosex. Sometimes they suffer from insufficient processing and cut the tissue. Allows sterilization and heating or cooling. Free of toxins and allergens with easy maintenance and the possibility of using all kinds of gels.
Large gynecological mirror Sakurai Speculum Gynamed3,739Kč – 6,050Kč
Hegar dilator set 8PC 3-18mm1,209Kč
Elastane is a flexible synthetic fiber made of polyester and polyurethane. In America, the name is spandex. Sometimes we also come across the rather generalized term Lycra, which is a branded type of elastane from DuPont. It is also used in sportswear or swimwear. Sexy, shiny material, but quite garish, with a cheap impression. Hand wash in lukewarm water. Our black clothing has a soft rubber coating and shines in the photo just like leather. It must be handled very carefully.
It allows sterilization and heating or cooling. Free of toxins and allergens with easy maintenance and all types of gels. However, the strength of the material is not very suitable for vaginal or anal play. It may burst on impact but should not shatter. Discontinue use when cracks are discovered. According to our observations, these are the most common lagers in sex shops.