My 5 Biggest Sex Toy Mistakes

I talk a lot about the importance of body-safety and general sex toy education here at EROcentric. I only review products made from high-quality materials, I only advertise for & become affiliates with manufacturers/retailers who I trust, and I try my hardest to educate my readers before they purchase a toy that may cause them harm — or at the very least, be completely wrong for their bodies.

Why? Because I’ve personally experienced negative effects from toxic, porous, latex-laden, cheap ass sex toys. And I’ve also spent a small fortune on certain luxury items, assuming that “expensive” must be synonymous with “mind-blowing”… only to be left with a useless paperweight.  


luvtouchcircleThis was my very first vibrator, before I knew anything about Pipedream and their disgustingly sexist & racist business practices. I chose it because it was small and under $20. To be fair, it held up pretty well. I had it for over a year before the thin, transparent coating (polyurethane?) began to flake & peel off the exterior of the vibe. At this point, I immediately should have thrown it away. Unfortunately, I had no idea that sex toys could be porous and that this flimsy layer was all that had been protecting me from bacteria growth.

Eventually, a black spot formed under the bright pink surface. At first, I thought that the toy was over-heating and burning through the plastic from the inside out. Then I found blogs like Lilly‘s and learned that the black spot was more likely mold. Cue revulsion.

Moral of the Story: Educate yourself about sex toy materials. Do not rely on sex toy manufacturers being honest & trustworthy with their advertising or packaging. Learn how to differentiate between materials and know what the “warning signs” are for toxic and porous toys.


sheathcircleMy partner & I had been curious about experimenting with size, but we couldn’t find many silicone penis extenders — and to be honest, we weren’t sure that we wanted to spend a fortune on a product that could be completely wrong for us. We settled for this TPE sheath because although it would be porous, I figured that it should at least be phthalate-free.

We only used this toy once — because it was a complete disaster. Within the first few minutes, the strap that is supposed to wrap around the testicles (holding the extension in place) snapped in half. It was only downhill from there. While attempting to have PIV intercourse, I noticed a horrible burning sensation in my vagina. I shrugged it off for a while, telling myself that it was simply from being stretched. But those two sensations are different.

Finally it clicked: I had felt that same burning before, back when my partner & I used latex condoms. Although I have no proof that this toy contained latex (in theory, most TPE should not), I also have no other explanation for the pain…unless I was experiencing mild chemical burn from some other additive.

Moral of the Story: Be proactive for your own health and listen to your body. If you have allergies, find out what ingredients are in your sex toys & lubricants and aim for only hypoallergenic materials. If you notice a negative reaction, talk to your doctor, seek out similar experiences online, try to narrow down the issue so that it can be avoided in the future. Remember: YOU are not the problem.



I understand that silicone is expensive and more time-consuming for manufacturers to use. And I understand that companies who traditionally sell very cheap sex toys worry that their customers will not spend big bucks on higher quality (especially when they continue to misinform & mislead those customers). I could almost give them a pass on cutting corners with the interior of their silicone toys. After all, it should never come into contact with the body.

But when something is advertised as “pure silicone” or “100% silicone”… I expect it to be silicone all the way down to the core; not full of foam, curious plastic chunks, or (most disturbing of all) rags.

A photo posted by Mandi (@erocentric) on

There’s also one other problem with this particular anal toy: the base is ridiculously small & extremely flexible. I consider myself very lucky that I never had to go to the emergency room to get this probe removed from my body. Knowing what I know now, I do not consider this toy safe for anal play and it upsets me that it was even created.

Moral of the Story: Again, don’t always trust what companies tell you on their advertising or packaging. Do research into a company’s reputation online — especially with sex bloggers. And for the love of butts everywhere, if a toy doesn’t have a large, sturdy base…don’t risk it.


evolvedcircle-2Generally, I think that Evolved creates some decent cheap silicone products. However, my experience is an important lesson in warranties, replacements, and consumer options when products malfunction.

Immediately after purchasing this bullet vibe from my local Cirilla’s, I inserted the small watch batteries that were included and turned it on. It buzzed for a few seconds… but then shorted out completely. I never even got to use it.

At the time, I didn’t know what to do with my broken little sex toy. I knew that you couldn’t return these items to the store and honestly, I was too embarrassed to start contacting the company online to find out what my options were and how to get a replacement. (That’s right, folks. I was not always the brazen sexual creature that you see today.) In the end, I simply ate the $20 that I wasted on this toy and tossed it in the trash.

Moral of the Story: Find out what type of warranty manufacturers have for their products. In this case, Evolved does allow you to send back faulty or defective items — with or without a receipt & original packaging. Don’t let sexual shame get in the way of your right to pleasure! The people in this industry talk about sex toys and sexuality every day. You will not seem weird, perverted, or hypersexual simply because you purchased a sex toy and you want it to work.


lilycircleObviously, this is the odd man out — but I wanted to prove that just because a toy is body-safe and “luxurious,” that doesn’t mean that it’s necessarily good or that it will do anything for your particular body or sexual anatomy.

The Lily was my first serious, body-safe sex toy purchase. I spent months drooling over its form, learning about Lelo and their high-quality products. I based my purchase largely off of one glowing review, without knowing what else worked for that person or if my body was similar. I tracked (what I thought was) the best deal and ended up spending approximately $90. When my beautiful Lily arrived, my clitoris was entirely unamused. The vibrations were so weak that I wondered if it was defective. (You can read my full review here, but know that the more toys I get introduced to the more I regret this particular purchase.)

The letdown was huge and it definitely deterred me from purchasing other expensive, body-safe sex toys for a long time. I felt like there must be something wrong with my body for needing so much more power. In fact, one of the next toys I purchased was the Hitachi because I kept reading that it was the most powerful toy out there — and I was convinced that was what I needed. (Turns out: Yes, the Hitachi Magic Wand is absolutely wonderful, but I can also orgasm from less powerful vibrations.)

Moral of the Story: Even if you’re purchasing a toy that is body-safe & produced by a trustworthy manufacturer, it helps to know your body. Of course, this is more difficult if you’re just beginning to experiment with sex toys; even us “experts” mistakingly assume that a toy will produce fireworks only to find that it barely even sparkles. Still, it helps to read as many reviews as you can find. Try to discover a toy reviewer who shares a similar body type or sexual response as you. Are you easy to orgasm? Is your clitoris buried by your labia? Will your anatomy even work with that rabbit vibrator? More often than not, one size does not fit all.

One of the biggest sex toy shopping seasons is upon us! Check out my Introduction to Sex Toy Safety5 Tips for Getting Quality Sex Toys for Lessmy Toybox (for a list of reviews), and the current Sales & Deals of my wonderful affiliates. Enjoy your purchases; Don’t make the same silly mistakes that I did. 

An Introduction to Sex Toy Safety

When I set out to buy my first sex toy, I was not an educated shopper. All I knew was that (1) I wanted to purchase from a brick-and-mortar store, so that I could actually see the size of the toy in front of me. And (2) I wanted something cheap, because I had no idea if I would actually like it. Needless to say, I wasted a lot of money on cheaply made and potentially dangerous shit. I’ve had the coating of vibrators begin to flake and fall off. I’ve had a couple of toys get mysterious dark stains, which I now know were probably signs of mold. One bullet that I bought only lasted about 5 minutes before it over-heated to the point that it completely fried the battery components. And I’ve experienced some mild vaginal burning from a toy that later started to disintegrate in a puddle of it’s own goo.

Gross, right?

I now know that in a society where almost everything is government regulated, sex toys are not. There are no government laboratories testing your dildos to make sure that they will not cause chemical burn or that your anal plug has a base wide enough to not get lost in your colon. Instead, most sex toy companies can choose to label their items as “novelties,” meaning that if they aren’t officially made for use, it doesn’t matter how unsafe they are. It also means that companies can get away with not disclosing what their products are made from — or even flat-out lying about it.

There are many individuals in the sex positive community (including educators, bloggers, shop owners, quality toy manufacturers, etc) who are aware of this and are advocating for change. However, the vast majority of the masses are still uninformed. There is a stigma surrounding sex toy use — even though 52.5% of women and 44.8% of men have reported using a vibrator alone or with a partner. People are hesitant to talk about their sex toys, even if their experience has been a positive one. But what about if their experience was painful or they became physically ill? As a wonderful fellow sex blogger once said…

Generally speaking, there are two things that can make a sex toy unsafe: porosity and toxicity.


Porosity simply means that the material has pores (tiny holes which allow liquid or air to pass through). For a sex toy, which comes into contact with bodily fluids and sensitive mucous membranes time and time again, the major concern of porosity is the growth of bacteria. Over time, mildew, mold, and fungus can all start growing on and inside of these toys. (This is especially likely if they are not washed straight away or if they are not thoroughly dry before being stored.) Because they essentially absorb what they come into contact withporous toys cannot be shared. They cannot be used both vaginally and anally. And they cannot be used while experiencing any sort of genital infection.

It’s important to realize that even if you wash a porous toy, you will have not removed the chance of introducing harmful bacteria to your body. There is no way to completely clean or sterilize a porous sex toy. Therefore, to minimize risk, using a condom with these toys is recommended.


There seems to be some recent controversy over using the term “toxic.” Some say that it scares individuals who are not knowledgeable about sex toys and shames those who own unsafe ones. Others, like myself, believe that ugly practices deserve ugly words and that consumers need to know the truth.

A toy may be “toxic” for a variety of reasons. Phthalates (chemicals added to plastics to make them softer and more flexible) usually get the most attention. Phthalates “off-gas” into their environment, meaning that they are released into the air that you breathe. If you’ve ever gotten a headache from the strong odor of a new vinyl shower curtain or that “new car smell,” you’ve got phthalates to thank. If phthalates are in a sex toy (which comes into contact with mucous membranes of the genitalia), they could also leach into your body and/or cause skin irritation. (Research is lacking on whether condoms can provide adequate protection.)

Research is ongoing about the potential harmful effects of these chemicals. It appears that with high levels of exposure, some phthalates may be linked to liver/kidney damage as well as negative effects on neurological & reproductive health. One specific phthalate that has been found in sex toys, Di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (or DEHP), “may reasonably be anticipated to be a human carcinogen” according to the Department of Health & Human Services. Because of this risk, many countries (including the U.S.) have banned children’s toys that include more than 0.1% DEHP in their chemical make-up. Now compare that to the 63% that a Berlin laboratory found in a vibrator.

Unfortunately, phthalates and leaky toys aren’t even the only things we have to worry about. In 2006, the Dutch EPA found arsenic, antimony, lead, & cadmium in the sex toys that they tested. I don’t know about you, but I find that very disturbing. 

Which materials are body-safe and which should you avoid?

I’ll do individual posts on these materials in the future, but for now, here is a basic breakdown.

Non-Porous & Non-Toxic

  • Silicone
  • ABS/Hard plastic
  • Glass, Ceramic, & Sealed Wood (However, not all ceramic glazes or wood finishes are body safe.)
  • Stainless Steel & Aluminum

Questionable or Dangerous

  • Thermoplastic Rubber or Elastomer (TPR/TPE)
    • Usually free of phthalates, but can be porous or non-porous (medical grade).
  • “Realistic” materials (ex: Cyberskin)
    • Porous & may contain phthalates.
  • PVC, Rubber, Latex, & “Jelly”
    • Porous & usually contains phthalates.

It’s important to know that these cheaply made toys from the bottom section are also often unstable and can begin to break-down within a short amount of time. They may develop an oily or greasy sheen on the outside of the toy or even drastically melt (especially when in contact with similar toys). If you want to see some disgusting examples, check out Dangerous Lilly’s, BadVibes’, and BexTalksSex’s jars of melted toys.

Remember that toy companies can and do lie. Even if product packaging or an online description says that a toy is silicone or “phthalates free,” it may not be. And many items sold cheaply on marketplaces such as Amazon turn out to be unsafe counterfeits. Before you buy, do your research on the manufacturer and the retailer. There are many amazing companies out there who are dedicated to producing and selling body-safe products and, in my opinion, those are the ones that deserve our money and support.

If you would like more information on sex toy safety, I highly suggest checking out Dangerous Lilly‘s posts and the posts of other bloggers that she has linked to here