Relationship Ramblings

Building a Better Vibrator

I won a Yona vibrator through a @BlushNovelties Twitter giveaway. Curious about my new toy, I went on its website to research it and spent way too much time thinking, “I want this … I want that …” Their products are more gorgeous and of much more higher quality than I had seen in my local adult sex toy store when I bought my newest one last spring.

And then I started thinking: What goes into building a better vibrator?

A lot more than I thought.

At Blush Novelties, it’s a matter of quality control and market research. The female-owned and operated company has its own engineers and designers. It also operates its own factory to cut back on costs and have closer control over quality.

“Sex toys aren’t regulated in the U.S., but in European markets, they are,” says Pamela McKee, director of sales and marketing for Blush Novelties. “They have to meet CE (Conformité Européenne) standards for the electronic and engineering parts and pass RoHS (Restriction of Hazardous Substances) certification that makes sure that certain heavy metals like lead and cadmium aren’t in the products. We have the testing done on the raw materials and on the finished products by an independent outside firm.”

That’s really given me a whole lot more to think about my safety and hygiene beyond giving my toys a good cleaning before and after I use them.

Silicone sex toys are still immensely popular.

“There’s been a great surge in silicone in the past three to five years,” McKee says. “Silicone’s a great product because it will sterilize and it’s not porous. It’s one of the most durable substances. It will sit in a landfill for years. However, it’ not a good conductor of vibrations. TPR (thermoplastic rubber) and TPE (thermoplastic elastomer) are becoming popular. They have a great texture and feel and they’re better at transmitting vibration.”

Now I understand why I often get frustrated with my silicone vibe. I’m really curious to try out my Yona, which is made with TPE, once it gets here, but it still doesn’t help me narrow down which other toys I want to buy.

While McKee says rabbits and dildos are still the most popular female sex toys.

“Women 35 and younger tend to like the brighter colors, the textures, and different vibration patterns,” McKee says. “Women 35 and older tend toward pink and purple and don’t want anything too technologically advanced.”

Even though Blush Novelties spends quite a bit of time talking to sex toy shop owners, staff and customers about what they like and don’t like in developing its products, I don’t fall within they types of products women in my age group tend to like. If Blush Novelties made a vibrator that lit my cigarette, poured me a cocktail, and told me how good I was that was available in any other color but pink, I’d be one happy woman when my sweetheart wasn’t around. For the time being, I’m thinking the Luxe Rabbit or the Hugs & Kisses may do.

I have to admit, I’m a lot more comfortable with my vibrator than I was five to seven years ago, which seems to speak the same of other women Blush Novelties have come upon in its research.

“In the past five to seven years, people are more accepting,” McKee says. “People don’t look at you like a tramp and they’re not replacing their boyfriends. Plus, in the past 10-15 years, the Internet has really opened up information about sex toys. Customers are more educated and informed about sex toys.”

Speaking of men, McKee says men are becoming more interested in having sex toys for themselves, too.

“In the past two years, they’ve been saying, ‘Why are the women having all the fun?’’ McKee says. “The gay market is also demanding the same. We’re selling more sleeves with vibrators and anal plugs with vibrators. We’re seen them open up to more than just anal plugs.”

McKee adds that the popularity of Fifty Shades of Grey has had a huge effect on sex toy industry. Sales of Blush Novelties products are two to three times what they were last year.

Or maybe it’s their selection that makes it so tempting to buy more than one toy. I’m still deciding what else I want to buy.