The Pleasure Activist

Jellywink Boutique is Closing This Saturday!

Jellywink Boutique is Closing This Saturday!

It's difficult to announce this, but life has pulled me in another direction and so Jellywink Boutique's last day will be this Saturday, Feb. 25. You'll still be able to reach me via email, but be sure to stop in to catch some good sales while you can. In the meantime, I'll leave you with:

7 Useful Sex Toy Shop Tips

Lube types and ingredients

We've all been there. Staring at a large wall of lubes, as the bottles seem to sit there smugly in their indistinguishable silence—taunting your confusion. Was there some sort of lube class you missed in school? How do people just know these things?! As a result, we reach for the most recognizable brand we may have seen sometime at a drug store—which happens to also be the crappiest lube—and we miss out on finding a lube that we actually enjoy using. If you're lucky or if you go to the right shop (I know one!) a helpful sex educator can help break it all down for you.

Water-Based vs. Silicone-based

A good quality water-based lube resembles our body's natural lubrication and is nourishing. A bad quality water-based lube can irritate our mucous membranes, get really sticky, and even promote infections. Look for water-based lubes that are glycerin-free, paraben-free, and glycol-free with the least amount of non-recognizable ingredients. Water-based lubes are less expensive than silicone-based lubes, but you will need to use much more because our bodies like to drink it in. It is compatible with everything.

A longer-lasting alternative is silicone lube. A little goes a long way and if you use too much it may leave grease-like stains on your sheets. Although it feels oily, it is not an oil and therefore compatible with condoms. It is not compatible with many sex toys, however, but it's great for shower sex, anal sex, or any kind of sex where you don't feel like reapplying lube a lot.

Sex Toy materials

If you care about what foods you put in your mouth, you just might want to care about the materials you put into your vagina or ass because we absorb chemicals through all of our orifices! Sex toy materials can be broken down several ways:

• Non-toxic/non-porous, non-toxic/porous, and toxic/porous

• Smooth/hard, firm/flexible, and soft/squishy

If you're looking for flexible or soft toys, pure medical grade silicone is the way to go. It is non-toxic, hypo-allergenic, non-porous and will not irritate your skin. It is often sterilizable and will not easily disintegrate or discolor.

Elastomer is also all of the above, except that it IS porous, therefore not-sterilizable and will get cloudy and break-down eventually.

Stay away from jelly or rubber blends. Those are often the ones that can irritate your sensitive tissues and even if you don't get that burny sensation, your body is still likely absorbing chemicals. If it smells rubbery or flowery or anything at all, it is off-gassing. If you do purchase one to save some money (though there is now a good affordable selection of silicone toys), be sure to put a condom on it.

Vibrators vs. Dildos

Vibrators and dildos are frequently words that customers use interchangeably. While there may be some overlap, they are different things. A vibrator refers to something with a vibrating motor. A dildo is an inert object used for penetration that usually does not vibrate.

Power Source

As we've just established, vibrators have motors. The power source of that motor makes a big difference regarding the strength, consistency, convenience, and price of a toy. Old-school mains-powered "personal massagers" are the most powerful and robust.

Rechargeable toys have almost matched the plug-in toys in terms of power these days. Plus they have the added benefit of not being leashed to the wall and they come in cute sizes. Don't mistake this with rechargeable but removable batteries. Rechargeable batteries work like any other removable battery. That is, as the battery drains, the vibrator will get weaker, and so it's always a race to keep fresh batteries stocked. Rechargeable toys operate with the same intensity whether it is 90 percent charged or 10 percent charged.

You are your own expert

Nobody can tell you which toy will give you the best orgasm of your life. This is a journey you must go on yourself. However, if you're new to this type of exploration, there are certain toys (or kits) that are more versatile and can help facilitate a well-rounded exploration.

Don't Yuck Somebody Else's Yum

There is a certain type of attitude that we have a hard time tolerating at the shop. Sometimes this attitude comes out in a question form, and it has more to do with tone rather than content. Here's an example:

Wrong: "Who in the world would want to use something like THIS?!" <smirk>

Right: "I've never seen anything like this. What is it used for?"

The first question sounds disingenuous and judgmental. The second question is a genuine inquiry. While it may be hard to imagine, our tastes and needs are different from each other. If someone walked into the shop looking for an intimate item while somebody else was making fun of said item, that would make an already vulnerable customer feel unsafe. This is etiquette.

Ally Booker

Ally Booker is a pleasure activist. She is passionate about educating herself and others on cool sexuality related things like communication skills, creating and respecting boundaries, sexual self-determination, destigmatization, gender and sexual expressions, sex toy use and safety, and all the other mechanics...