[(Not a) Toy Review] Here’s What Happened When We Tried a Terrible Cock Ring

From whence it came I do not recall. It must have found its way into my freebie bag at one sexy event or another. But somehow, this monstrosity came into my possession:

The Skins Vibe Ring, a clear jelly rubber cock ring with a small bullet vibe, sitting on its box. For a review.Because Mr CK is a very indulgent partner, and supportive of my penchant for putting strange things on my genitals and then oversharing about it on the internet, we decide we’d test it. Just for fun.

Well, it was… something. I’m not sure fun is quite the word.

This ‘Vibe Ring’ vibrating cock ring by Skins (better known for making mediocre condoms) looks and feels like something you’d buy for £3 from a machine in a seedy nightclub. It’s made of some kind of jelly rubber (the packaging is mysteriously quiet about its actual material) and just from handling it for a couple of minutes I can see its porous as fuck. Sweat and oils from my hands have leached into the rubber, turning its clear appearance opaque, and the squishy texture and dodgy chemical smell coming off it are dead giveaways for phthalates.

As a cock ring, it’s worse than useless. A cock ring is designed to restrict blood flow away from the penis, creating a stronger and longer-lasting erection. A lot of penis-owners report that this can be very pleasurable and give them stronger orgasms. This thing, though?

“I literally can’t feel it!” Mr CK declared when it was around his cock. It’s too stretchy and flimsy to do anything. Still, we were determined to give it a fair hearing, so we turned the little vibrating bullet on and I  hopped on board and started fucking him. In the me-on-top position, I could at least feel the vibrations – if you can call them that – against my clit. But, unsurprisingly, they were too weak and too buzzy to give me anything that I could define as pleasure. Mr CK reported that he could just barely feel the vibrations through his shaft but they were nowhere near to being pleasurable for him either. (And this is a man who definitely enjoys vibrations!)

We changed positions, him standing and me on my back, legs spread, on the end of the bed. This was worse. With every thrust, the damn thing buzzed against me in its completely useless and mildly distracting way. It was low-level annoying in the way that a mobile phone vibrating in your pocket can be. Only, you know, less likely to give me an orgasm.

“Ooh, it made you come!” Mr commented as he felt my cunt muscles clenching around his cock.

“Nope. That was all your dick, babe.”

“Shall we take this thing off?”

“Yes, lets do that.”

We tossed it aside and finished our fuck, which was much more satisfying once the stupid ring was safely on the other side of our very large bed. Afterwards, we snuggled in the afterglow and laughed about how utterly terrible this ridiculous excuse for a sex toy was.

“It feels like it would fit around my head,” he said, stretching it experimentally.

“Try it!” I dared.

And that, my friends, is how a sex session finished with my partner and I taking turns to wear a cock ring like a head lamp. I hope you enjoyed that mental image. You’re welcome.

TL/DR: Do not buy this toy or any other cheap, rubbery “single use” cock ring. For a simple, high quality cockring, try the Beginner or the Super-Soft C-Rings from Tantus. If you’re after one that vibrates, try the Desire Rechargeable from Lovehoney (and don’t forget to use discount code COFFKINK10 at checkout!)

The image featured in this post was taken by me. Don’t steal my photos, please! Links above are affiliate links. Doing your sexy shopping with my affiliates helps support me to keep the blog going.

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.

Toxic: Ingredients to Avoid In Your Lube

There are a lot – a LOT – of sexual lubricants available on the market today. Go into any sex shop and you’re likely to see rows upon rows of them. How do you even begin to know which to choose?

An old fashioned corked bottle filled with blue liquid and labelled with a skull and crossbones and the word "poison." For a post on toxic ingredients in lube

A lot of it is down to personal preference, compatibility with your particular body, and dependent upon what toys, condoms etc. you’re going to be using it with. I can’t tell you the perfect lube for you. What I can do, though, is point out some toxic ingredients commonly found in commercial sexual lubricants (as well as toy cleaning solutions, if those are a thing you use) which we would all be well advised to avoid.

1. Sodium Lauryl/Laureth Sulphate

What it is: Sodium lauryl sulphate (SLS) and sodium laureth (ether) sulphate (SLES) are additives found in everything from household cleaning products to cosmetics. They’re what creates that foamy/lathery appearance and also used for their cleaning properties.

Why it’s toxic:
SLS is a skin irritant. SLES is somewhat less irritating (which is why it’s the one you’ll more commonly see in personal care products) but it’s no less toxic. It also cannot be metabolised by the liver. Like many chemicals, these are absorbed into the body from skin application and both can cause damage to the skin, hair follicles, eyes and even the liver. In the body SLS can mimic the function of Oestrogen, possibly contributing to a range of hormonal problems from PMS to lowered fertility to increased risk of breast cancer.

2. Parabens

What they are: Parabens (butylparaben, methylparaben, and propylparaben) are preservatives. They are commonly used to prevent bacteria growth in cosmetics and other products.

Why they’re toxic: Like SLS and SLES, they’re xenoestrogens – meaning they mimic oestrogen in the body. Oestrogen disruption has been linked to breast cancer and other reproductive issues and in a 2004 study, parabens were found in malignant tumours.  What’s more, there’s some evidence that they can be stored in the body and have an accumulative effect over time.

3. Phthalates

What they are: Pthalates are a common ingredient in cosmetics, lubes and many soft plastic or ‘jelly’ sex toys. They’re used to increase flexibility, durability and longevity in plastics. In lube and other cosmetics they can be used as binding agents or softeners.

Why they’re toxic:
Research suggests that prolonged exposure to pthalates can alter the cycles of reproductive hormones with effects including delaying or suppressing ovulation. Studies have also linked them, variously, to asthma, ADHD, breast cancer, diabetes, neurodevelopmental issues and male fertility issues. The International Agency for Research on Cancer classes DEHP, a common phthalate, as a possible carcinogen. Some people have even experienced chemical burns when using products containing pthalates on their genital areas.

4. Glycerin/Glycerol

What it is: A colourless liquid found in all natural plant and animal fats, although it can also be produced synthetically. You’ll find it in lots of lubes because it is a humectant, which just means it attracts moisture to the area where it’s applied. It has a slightly sweet taste so is likely to appear in a lot of flavoured lubes in particular, but it pops up all over the place.

Why it’s toxic:
Sugars and sugar derivatives simply do not belong in your vagina. Glycerin can increase the presence of candida, and this in turn can lead to yeast infections. Best avoided, particularly if you’re prone to them.

5. Parfum/Perfume/Fragrance

What it is: It’s what makes certain products smell nice. Beyond that? We haven’t a clue – under UK law at least, “parfum” or “fragrance” is a catch-all. It could mean any combination of hundreds of different potential ingredients which do not have to be listed separately.

Why it’s toxic: If you don’t know what it is or what it’s actually made up of, then I strongly recommend not putting it in your body.

6. Any numbing agent

What it is: Typically found in lubricants designed for anal sex, ingredients like benzocaine or lidocaine are basically anaesthetic agents. They’re used to partially, or even completely, numb the area they’re applied to.

Why it’s toxic: Do I really need to spell this out? If you need a fucking anaesthetic to have sex, then THIS IS SEX YOU DO NOT WANT TO BE HAVING. These products are sold on the strength of the idea that the receiving partner (particularly a female receiving partner) doesn’t actually want to be penetrated, and that anal sex is inevitably going to be painful and unpleasant.

There may be some discomfort with anal at first – that’s normal and why going slow and using plenty of (body-safe, non-toxic, no-freaky-ingredients) lube is vital IF it’s something both parties are enthusiastically into the idea of doing. (If you’re not: don’t do it. If your partner isn’t: don’t pressure them to do it!) Even more dangerously, pain is your body’s way of signalling that something is wrong. If you can’t feel it, you won’t know if sensitive tissues are being torn. Real damage can be done this way, which at best will be uncomfortable for a few days and at worst can be a serious medical emergency. JUST SAY NO TO A NUMB BUM.

To sum up:

You read the label when choosing foods, right? Please, please do the same when choosing lube, toy cleaner and even condoms (those “delay his climax” condoms, for example? They probably contain numbing agents.)

There are really good, safe, body-friendly products out there made by amazing ethical companies. They’re worth looking for.  Ask for recommendations from those in the know, do your research, and above all READ THE LABEL.

My top pick for lube, always and forever, will be Sliquid.

I started this blog, in part, to realise my passion for informed, honest, transparent and freely available sex education for everyone. If the information here was valuable to you, please consider buying me a virtual coffee or even becoming a sexy patron. Thank you!