Over the past decade, the topic of body-safe sex toys has been discussed and debated by bloggers, sex toy reviewers, manufacturers, retailers, and consumers ad nauseum. While it is extremely important that consumers understand the risks involved when using a product made from materials that are not body-safe; some of the discussion uses fear to drive purchasing decisions.
Furthermore, since the manufacturing of sex toys are not regulated by any scientific organization or government agency, some of the body-safe sex toy discussion is based on opinion and not necessarily fact. In other words, consumers do not have scientifically proven guidelines or standards to reference when making purchasing decisions. Additionally, sex toy manufacturers can make false claims about their products with limited legal repercussions. This is especially true for manufacturers that are not based in the United States.
Rather than fear and often unproven information, I believe there is a better way for consumers to be assured they are purchasing sex toys that will not harm their body.
The United States cosmetic industry is FDA regulated; but, FDA approval is not required before a product goes to market. The two most important laws pertaining to cosmetics marketed in the United States are the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FD&C Act) and the Fair Packaging and Labeling Act (FPLA). The FDA regulates cosmetics under the authority of these laws. It seems that the sex toy industry and consumers would greatly benefit from inclusion in these two laws.
Ironically, there are numerous laws regulating the sale of sex toys and no regulations for the materials used to manufacture sex toys. In Alabama, it is illegal to sell a sex toy (Anti-Obscenity Enforcement Act of 1988). One of the most out-spoken backers of this law was the late Dan Ireland of the Alabama Citizens' Action Program. In 2007 he told the Mobile Register, "laws are made to protect the public" and "sometimes you have to protect the public against themselves." This comment pertains to the prohibition of the sale of sex toys. What about protecting the public from the use of sex toys? Sex toys are certainly being sold in Alabama. They are legally marketed as novelty and educational items. Many of these novelty items are likely not made with body-safe materials.
The Alabama law has been challenged several times. In 2009, the Alabama Supreme Court upheld the law in a case brought by Love Stuff, a retail chain selling “adult novelties”. Writing for the majority, Justice Mike Bolin said that "public morality can still serve as a legitimate rational basis for regulating commercial activity, which is not a private activity."
“Public morality” is most likely the reason why the manufacturing of sex toys is not regulated. The prudishness of those who make the laws in the United States (or citizens who influence the lawmakers) is allowing unsafe sex toys to be sold to consumers. It is way past time to put an end to the cultural taboos about sex toys.
It seems that adding sex toys to the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FD&C Act) and the Fair Packaging and Labeling Act (FPLA) would be a prudent step toward protecting the public from unsafe products. The sex toy industry should take the lead in pushing the United States Congress to study this important issue. It is the responsible thing to do.
As Dan Ireland said in 2007, "laws are made to protect the public". He is right about one thing - laws are needed to protect the public from buying unsafe sex toys. Until there are regulations, consumers must make smart buying decisions based on proven facts about body-safe materials. This doesn’t mean consumers should never buy a sex toy from eBay, Amazon, or other marketplaces. This doesn’t mean all realistic materials (ULTRASKYN, UR3, Cyberskin, PureSkin, etc) are unsafe. What it means is that consumers need to use common sense and carefully follow a few basic guidelines:
- Always buy phthalate free products
- Medical grade silicone, glass, steel and aluminum, and ABS plastic/acrylic toys are safest
- Porous sex toys should never be shared
- Buy from trusted retailers that only sell authentic products
- If buying from eBay or Amazon, check reviews to ensure the seller is reputable and selling authentic products
- If you are unsure about a product or material, ask your retailer for additional information
Our goal at AWSexProducts is to offer a wide range of products to meet the needs of a diverse market. All of the products we sell are phthalate free. We carefully research the brands and products we sell. Our Materials Policy is published in our store. Yet, we leave the final buying decision up to the consumer. Sex toys should bring pleasure and the buying process should be fun – not fearful.