Ask Amy #4: “Can I get safe toys on a budget?”

It’s been a while since I’ve had a reader question, so I am super excited to dive into today’s. This one’s about one of my favourite topics: SEX TOYS!

Our lovely reader asks:

“Hi Amy. I was wondering, what do I need to know when looking for cheap, body-safe sex toys, especially here in the UK?”

A blue dildo and some condoms. For a post about body safe toys on a budget

I love this question so much. First, Letter Writer and everyone else, please know this: it is simply NOT TRUE that affordable body-safe toys don’t exist. This is a complete myth, and it’s a harmful fiction that leads people on a restricted budget to buy unsafe toys under the mistaken notion that they can’t get anything better within their price-range.

You absolutely can. You categorically, 1000% can. And what’s more, you deserve high-quality, safe stuff that you can enjoy without worrying about your health.

So, what to look out for?

Firstly, it’s all about materials.

Good: Silicone. ABS Plastic. Glass (of the borosilicate or “Pyrex” variety.) Stainless steel. Aluminium. Ceramic, as long as it’s treated with a non-toxic glaze. Wood, as long as it’s treated with a non-toxic glaze or sealant.

Bad: TPR. TPE. Rubber. PVC. “Cyberskin” etc. “Sil-a-Gel.” Latex. Anything with “jelly” in the name.

Generally, metal, ceramic and wood toys will be more expensive, while silicone, ABS and glass are easy to find on a budget.

The materials I’ve listed as “good” are perfect because they’re non-toxic (no phthalates or other harmful ingredients,) don’t off-gas or leech chemicals, and are non-porous so they won’t harbour bacteria as long as you wash them thoroughly between every use.

Those I’ve listed as “bad” are variable. Please avoid anything with “jelly” in the name like the plague – these almost certainly contain phthalates, as does PVC. That’s how they get that squishy texture. “Cyberskin” and anything else that is sold as “realistic,” if it’s not silicone, is also to be avoided. TPE/TPR (thermoplastic elastomer/rubber) don’t usually contain phthalates, but are porous as fuck and may be softened with other nasty chemicals. Same goes for latex, which is also a super common allergen and there’s some evidence that prolonged exposure can cause or exacerbate sensitivity. “Sil-a-gel” isn’t even a real thing and it certainly isn’t in any way the same as silicone.

[Note: The ONE exception I’ll make for PVC is the Doxy Original, which uses medical-grade (and therefore phthalate-free) PVC for the head. They claim it’s non-porous and I’m inclined to believe them as they’re such a great, transparent and ethical company – and also my Doxy is still good as new after 2 years – but I haven’t seen any hard scientific evidence. If you’re cautious and want a Doxy, either always use a non-latex condom, or buy the Die Cast, which has a silicone head.]

If you want to read up more on the specifics of these materials and why they’re toxic, I recommend Dangerous Lilly’s brilliant guide.

Also worth adding is that if you don’t know what it’s made of, avoid it, and remember that the sex toy industry is pretty much unregulated – so just because a company claims something is body-safe, doesn’t mean that it is.

It’s NOT all about brands

A lot of the toys you’ll hear recommended come from big-name brands in the business: Doxy. Lelo. Tantus. We-vibe. Hitachi (less so this one in the UK.) These brands and many more are popular for good reason (though Lelo are kinda… ugh, these days,) so if you do ever spot their products on a mega-sale, you’ll most likely be getting something good quality.

But you don’t need big brands or loads of cash for great quality toys!

Go own-brand

As with food, own-brand sex toys can be much cheaper but not compromise much on quality when compared to the big names.

Lovehoney and Bondara are two examples of companies who do some really solid own-brand stuff. Not everything in their lines are safe, unfortunately, but if you follow the materials guide above, you can’t go far wrong.

A quick note about retailers:

Tempting though it is, please please resist the urge to buy your toys from a retailer such as eBay or Amazon. There are loads of knock-offs around on all the major brand toys, some of them quite convincing, so there’s no way to know for sure if you’re getting a genuine product. Dangerous Lilly (she’s amazing!) has written more extensively on this.

I personally really advocate for Lovehoney, because their returns policy is stellar and they really care about their customers. Full disclosure: they are an affiliate partner of mine and if you buy through them with one of my links, I may make a small commission. However, my first concern is always my readers’ happiness and safety, I will never recommend an unsafe toy, and I only partner with companies I strongly believe in.

Some Concrete Suggestions

I thought I’d put together a list of options for various tastes that are body-safe, under £30, and easily available in the UK.

In the interests of full disclosure, Lovehoney links are affiliate links. Other links are not. If you buy from Lovehoney, whether one of the listed items or something else, use code COFFKINK10 to get 10% off your order.

Clitoral Vibrators:

G-spot Vibrators:

Rabbit Vibrators:

Dildos (silicone)

Dildos (other safe materials)

Anal toys:

This list is by no means exhaustive or even really scratching the surface. These are just a few of the categories of toys available and just a very small handful of the options out there. Go forth and get your sexy on, lovely Letter Writer, and I hope this was helpful to you and anyone else shopping for safe toys on a budget.

Remember: we all deserve pleasure, and we all deserve SAFE toys, no matter what our financial situation.

Love,
Amy xx

Remember: I’ll answer your question on the blog, too! Just email coffeeandkink69 (at) gmail (dot) com and I’ll help if I can.

The image featured in this post was offered for use under Creative Commons Licensing.

My First Sex Toys

This was supposed to be a quick one, written on Sunday while waiting for Mr CK to get ready for our favourite twice-yearly kink event. But it ended up getting long, then I ended up getting busy, so here it is several days late.

Thought it would be fun to share with you the first five sex toys I ever owned, what I think of them with the knowledge I have now… and what I might recommend instead.

Toy #1: Tracey Cox Supersex Bullet Vibrator

At 18 and having just moved into my own place with a boyfriend, I rushed to buy my first Actual Sex Toy, to replace the trusty electric toothbruth I’d been using until that point. Having very little money and no clue what to buy, I went for a cheap and cheerful bullet vibe. At the time, it was fine. I wasn’t quite the power queen I am today, and the toy was small enough that it didn’t threaten my boyfriend’s fragile masculinity.

Would I recommend it? Meh. I wouldn’t say “don’t go anywhere near”. It’s cheap, was pretty reliable (lasted damn near five years before it finally died as I recall,) and being made of hard plastic it’s body safe and easy to clean. But it’s also single-speed and the vibes were kinda buzzy and weak. But as a first toy, to establish that vibrating sensations were something I enjoyed, well… meet my gateway drug.

Buy this instead: We-Vibe Tango (reviewed by me here) or Lovehoney Desire Luxury Bullet are both highly recommended, very popular and body-safe bullet vibes. The Tango is slightly stronger and rumblier. The Desire is softer if hard plastic feels too harsh for your sensitive areas. Choose according to your preferences.

Toy #2: Some vile jelly monstrosity from Ann Summers

Emboldened by my new-found sexual bravery, or so I thought (LOL, 19 year old Amy was adorable) I dragged my boyfriend into Ann Summers on my 19th birthday trip to London to buy myself a new toy. Too intimidated to ask for help, I ended up with a purple jelly-rubber toy with pathetically weak vibrations. I don’t think I used it more than 3 times. I can’t find the exact model on their site any more, but this isn’t a million miles away.

Would I recommend it? FUCK NO. Please don’t buy anything made of jelly rubber, it’s toxic and porous and really, really bad for your body. Actually, I suggest you just don’t shop at Ann Summers at all. A lot of their products suck and they cater for a really narrow, cishet, male-gaze-centric version of female sexuality. Try Lovehoney, Sh! or your local independent, women-owned sex shop instead.

Buy this instead: If you’re after an affordable, simple G-spot stimulator, the Lovehoney 7 Inch curved silicone dildo is well-priced and body safe (it also comes in a shorter 5.5 inch version.) If you can afford to spend a bit more, anything by Tantus is wonderful, beautifully made and safe for your body – look out for my personal favourite, the Vamp Super Soft in midnight purple.

Toy #3: Icicles No.5 Sapphire Spiral Glass Dildo

This was an impulse buy at the BBB – they were just so pretty I couldn’t resist, and I’d never tried a glass toy before. On first use I wasn’t sure I liked it – glass is colder and more rigid than anything I’d previously used. Once I’d got used to the sensation, though, I found that using it very gently (think “insert and just barely wiggle it,” no hard thrusting here) gave me the most glorious G-spot orgasms. Alas this particular toy met its end when a clumsy photographer dropped it (he did have the decency to pay me for it!) but I’ve been in love with glass toys ever since.

Would I recommend it? I recommend glass dildos heartily. HOWEVER…

…Note, added on 22/1o/2017: Icicles are owned by Pipedream, who I have come to learn are kinda fucking terrible. If you don’t want to support them (and I urge you to think seriously before you do,) Lovehoney’s own brand glass toys are at least equal in quality and value.

Toy #4: Doc Johnson Junior Veined Double Ended Dildo

I won this one in a raffle at a Simply Pleasure open evening event. It amused me more than anything, and at 22 I was still bashful enough to shove it in my bag with a blush and hope I didn’t have an accident on my cycle home. I tried it exactly once with my girlfriend, before it went to languish, forgotten, at the bottom of a box until I threw it out some three years later.

Would I recommend it? No. It smelled weird (think “new car” meets “latex” only more chemically). The texture was sticky and gross, sure signs of a questionable and potentially toxic material. It’s described on the website as “body safe” but Doc Johnson products have been found in lab tests to contain phthalates, and their “sil-a-gel” additive seems to be entirely their own invention and AT BEST does nothing. In other words, this toy – and many of Doc Johnson’s other products – are mainly PVC and therefore porous as fuck and toxic.

Buy this instead: The Lovehoney Double Up Silicone Mini Double Penetration Dildo is great for use either with a partner or alone for vaginal/anal double penetration, and I will always recommend the Feeldoe for that “strapless strap on” experience.

Toy #5: Off-Brand “Magic Wand” Knockoff

This thing was my first wand vibrator. It’s a cheap (-ish – I think mine still ran £50, though it probably wasn’t really worth even half that) and poor knock-off of the original Hitachi magic wand. Unfortunately, it’s incorrectly labelled as “Hitachi” in at least 50% of the places I could find it online. It gave me some good orgasms for a few months but ultimately, got less and less powerful with each use until it completely gave up and died after perhaps 6-9 months.

Would I recommend it? Absolutely not. Being a knock-off, there’s no information available on the material, meaning it almost certainly isn’t body-safe. (It may not even be properly safe electrically, come to that.) The quality is shocking and it barely lasted a quarter of the time you’d expect a toy of this price point to last.

Buy this instead: The Hitachi Magic Wand Rechargeable, or my all-time favourite, the Doxy Massager.

This post was not sponsored. It does contain affiliate links and if you buy from one of them, I may make a small commission. This will never affect my views on the products, which are and will always be my own.

Don’t forget to use code COFFKINK10 at Lovehoney to receive 10% off the entire store.

[Toy Review] Evolved Novelties Silicone Silky “G”

One of the criticisms I often hear around the movement for body-safe and well made sex toys is that they’re unaffordable for a lot of people. I do not believe this is true. You can find good quality and safe products for no more money than a lot of the unsafe, toxic and porous toys on the market – you just need to know where to look.

That’s why, after shipping charges scuppered the intention to review a higher priced toy, I was actually quite glad to have the opportunity to test something at a lower price-point. The lovely folks at new women-focused US online retailer Amanda & Eve sent me the Silicone Silky “G” by Evolved Novelties.

The Evolved Novelties silky silicone G out of its case. A blue vibrator with a curved tip. The blue Evolved Novelties Silky Silicone G in its plastic case

First, some facts ‘n’ stats…

The “G” is a blue silicone, battery-operated G-spot vibrator with three constant vibration speeds (no patterns.) It’s 1.5 inches in diameter and the insertable part is 7.5 inches long, making it a poor choice for girth queens but a good option for those who like slimline vibes or slightly deeper penetration. Like most silicone toys, it’s got some flexibility which makes for easy, smooth insertion and a sensation that isn’t too rigid. The end curves pleasingly, which stimulated my G-spot very nicely when inserted, and also doubles up for pinpoint clitoral stimulation.

A quick note: there is some confusion on different retailers about what batteries this toy takes. I can confirm it’s definitely 2 AAA batteries.

My Ratings (all scores out of 5★)

Price: ★★★★★
This toy retails at $28.99 (about £22.50) and at the time of writing is on sale for $14.99 through Amanda & Eve for North American readers. This is a fantastic price for the quality of product, especially as it’s pure silicone.

Materials: ★★★★★
It’s made of matte-finish silicone, making it completely body-safe, non-porous and hypoallergenic. Points all around and kudos to Evolved Novelties for listening to their customers and creating safe toys that are still affordable. As always, use water-based lube for silicone toys.

Appearance: ★★★★
It is NOT PINK, which automatically earns points from me, and it comes nicely presented in a sturdy plastic case. (Pictured above.) It’s also available in purple.

Ease of Use: ★★★★
It’s a little heavy for the size (4.3 oz,) which wasn’t an issue for me but might make it a poor choice if holding something with a bit of weight would be an issue for you. Other than that, it fits snugly in my hand and the button to cycle through the speed settings is easy to press and located on the base of the toy.

Ease of care & cleaning: ★★★★
The shape and smooth silicone surface mean it’s easy to clean down with a sterile wipe. It’s also waterproof so you can submerge it fully in water for a more thorough cleaning. There is a “seam” down the middle, presumably from the mold – common in lower priced silicone toys. This could harbour bacteria – so do take particularly thorough care of this when cleaning. Easy to pop a condom over for extra safety if you’re particularly concerned or sharing your toy.

Versatility: ★★★★
It has three speeds, which isn’t that many compared to some vibes on the market which may have 10-2o speeds or “patterns”. I’m struggling to mark it down for this, though, because the “constant vibration” setting is always my favourite anyway. The three levels mean you can choose the intensity of vibration that works for you. It’s waterproof if you want to use it in the bath or shower. Though it’s designed as a G-spot toy (and functions as one admirably!) I also really liked this vibe as a clitoral stimulator. The shape of the tip is just perfect for precision stimulation. It doesn’t have a flared base, so please don’t use it anally.

Intensity: ★★★★
The vibrations, though a little buzzy for my taste, went deep enough to get me off in a reasonable timeframe and are impressively strong for such a cheap toy – especially as I’ve used much more expensive toys with lower strength of vibration. Not recommended for serious power queens, but otherwise I have no complaints.

Overall Score: ★★★★
Not at all bad for the price. Though it’s not perfect, I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this toy to someone looking for a decent vibe at a lower price-point.


I received a free product and small fee from Amanda & Eve in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affects my views on the product which are, and always will be, entirely my own. I do not make a commission from any links in this post.

The images featured in this post come from Amanda & Eve’s website and are kindly reproduced here with their permission.