While most of the economy is going to shit, over in the sex-toy industry, things have been, well…explosive (so sry). People have been buying vibrators and sexdukker like toilet paper, making retailers like Lelo, Lovehoney, and PinkCherry see up to 250 percent spikes in sales.
They’ve sold, no joke, more than 1 million toys since March. Let that sink in. Or maybe you don’t need to, since a solid chunk of Cosmo readers— already a very sex-positive bunch, love yas—bought their first-ever sex toy during quarantine.
Which just makes sense, and not only because literal city governments in places like NYC and D.C. officially recommended masturbation as the safest form of physical intimacy during the pandemic. (Also on NYC’s rec list: glory-holing, aka having sex through a wall. Yep.) Another Cool Thing: Sex-toy companies are spreading their new wealth. B-Vibe, purveyor of butt-centric products, donated UV-C sanitizing bags to hospitals.
One Condoms shifted its lube production lines to make hand sanitizer and worked with rubber suppliers to help get more PPE like gloves made. So props to these businesses for keeping frontline workers protected—and the rest of us safe and sated at home.
Whether you’ve already filled out your stash or you’re just now catching up (go for it, bb, no time like the present!), we’re here to help you navigate this new terrain with this guided tour: which playthings have been the most popular during lockdown, how to spot a counterfeit toy (the sad downside of online shopping *sigh*), and more.
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According to our own Cosmo data, 94 percent of you wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between a counterfeit and the real deal (and 77 percent didn’t even know fakes were a thing!). Sadly, phonies don’t just lurk in the shadows on the deep, deep interweb—they’re touted openly on product marketplaces like Amazon and eBay. Plus, They! Look! The! Exact! Same! As! The! Real! Things!
Obviously this is bad for multiple reasons, the main one being that lack of regulations in the sex-toy industry = lots of sus products going in and around your privates, says Marie Aoyama, marketing director at Tenga toys. And since counterfeit versions are most commonly made up of phthalates, aka chemicals that are linked to cancer (plus a laundry list of other things), that’s something you really don’t want.
Knockoffs made out of phthalates also tend to be more porous, which means they are nearly impossible to fully sanitize (hi, yeast and bacterial infections). And you’ll be lucky to find an honest “made out of” ingredients list in any of these false product descriptions, since no regulations means no fact-checking.
Basically, what you might consider a “good deal” is actually a crap product that can easily overheat or stop working right away. So let’s put you onto some maje red flags to look out for. (And btw, if, let’s say, “your friend” accidentally finds herself with a counterfeit toy, tell her to return or recycle it via SexToyRecycling.com. It’s also okay to leave a brutally honest review.)
Be v wary if…
Look to reputable sites like Babeland and Lovehoney to compare costs. “If the price seems too good to be true, it probably is,” says Shay Martin, co-owner of Vibratex.
- THE PRODUCT NAME OR DESCRIPTION IS NOT QUITE RIGHT.
“Counterfeit companies usually don’t have the resources to do language checks for packaging,” says Aoyama.
- WHEN MADE OUT OF SILICONE, IT’S MISSING VERBIAGE LIKE:
“100 percent body safe,” “medical grade,” or “food grade,” which is how the industry most commonly labels safe silicone, says Martin.
- IT SMELLS LIKE CHEMICALS WHEN YOU OPEN THE PACKAGE.
This would most likely mean unsafe silicone or vinyl is being used, says Martin.
- IT FEELS LIGHT AND HOLLOW.
FYI, solid plastics—the ones you want—are usually labeled “ABS,” which should look and feel solid, advises Martin.
A Peek Inside a Knockoff
If you’ve made it this far—both in this story and in this shitstorm of a year—then you deserve to join in on all the sex-toy-buying fun and get yourself something pretty. Go ahead, buy the one that caught your eye — you know you want to.
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