Notes from my top drawer

There is something to be said about brand knowledge. We spend hours of our lives looking at the nutritional content of the foods we eat, where our clothes were made and we test drive cars until something clicks between our hearts and our clutch muscle. We spend so much time being sure we are healthy and fit and fuel efficient, then we turn around and drop thirty bucks on a cheap plastic dildo and shove it in our cooters. 

I would like to encourage you all to put as much time and research into picking out a sex toy as you do picking out the colour of paint you put on your bedroom wall. Furthermore, when you finally decide what you think you want, ask an expert on the quality and the composition of the hundreds of toys that fit your shopping list, and be willing to spend some real cash. It’s only your vagina we’re talking about.

There are a lot of reasons why a sex toy can cost well over $100; some manufacturers put a ton of cash into the marketing of their products, so that the box is sleek, the cover is inoffensive and people think they are pretty. At the moment, this sort of premium usually reflects a higher quality product, but things are changing. Cheap, mass-produced toy manufacturers clued in to the uptake of understated packaging and have started to dump their longstanding airbrushed pictures of “Fabian’s Giant Cock.”

The real question is: “How do you know if you are getting what you pay for?” Anyone can spend over $100 on a toy and have it die from the motor overheating after one use; the thing that is going to protect you from having a pre-climax meltdown is brand knowledge. There are certain lines of toys that are tried and true and moderately priced, and some that are $1,600 and gold plated that will never get you off because they spent more on the gold coating than the motor. So do your research.

To start, avoid products in the discount bin. They are likely damaged from shipping, a poorly selling item for one reason or another, or just crap.
Next, just about every mid to high quality toy manufacturer has gone phthalate-free and are now using “medical grade silicone.” This move was made in response to the “pthalates cause cancer” campaign, just like Nalgene’s going bisphenol A (BPA) -free after the media outburst around BPA. Now that everyone and their dog knows to go phthalate-free, the next question is what should a good dildo be made of?

Hard plastic is still easiest to clean, can be used with all lubes and will last for a good long while. The downside? If you have a roommate, a parent or a sleeping partner, these plastics suck for keeping the kink quiet, as this material doesn’t muffle the motor’s sound. Medical grade silicone is non-porous and, like hard plastic, also easy to clean but cannot be used with silicone lubricants, and cannot be stored touching other silicone products. If you have two old silicone toys to throw away, put them in a bag together for a week and watch them become one! RealSkin products claim to feel like the real thing, but to keep them feeling like that they need to be run through the dishwasher, air dried and dusted with talcum powder between uses, and they still collect dust, lint and hair like a belly button!

So far, my favourite and most recommended for durability and hypoallergenics would be products made of elastomed. This non-porous, elastomer composite product coating is soft and viscous to the touch, does not get sticky when wet, is easy to clean and lasts a really long time. It feels great inside and out, and indicates a product that is on the high end of the moderate-high scale.

This is just a starting point for researching future sex toys. If it’s your first time buying, ask someone for help so you don’t come home with the black bag of mystery and stick something somewhere that it does not belong. If you are an experienced toy shopper, and you know what you are looking for, kudos and good shopping, friend. 

L. Rae Stewart is the owner of Top Drawer Toys. She believes in masturbation as a means to world peace.