Sex Toys and Phthalates

Author: By Dallas Schuster


On August 8, 2006, Greenpeace Netherlands and UK called on the European Union to ban all phthalates in sex toys. This set off a large debate among scientists, sex toy makers and sex toy users about just how harmful phthalates are, and whether they should be used in sex toys. Babeland has been explaining phthalates to our customers for years (we give out information with every toy we sell), and we want to let people know what we think about the chemicals in some of the toys we sell.

What are Phthalates?

Phthalates are plasticizing chemicals that soften Polyvinyl Chlorides (PVCs) – plastics that are used in everything from building materials, tubing, and clothing to shower curtains, and can even be found in food. Phthalates are also used in soft plastic sex toys.

What does this mean for sex toys?

Phthalates are cheap and easy to use. Because of this, they are used in a lot of sex toys. The use of phthalates in toys is almost impossible to regulate because any toy labeled a “novelty” toy is no longer subject to federal regulations. Thus, it can sometimes be hard to know what chemicals are in toys. Toys with phthalates are also “porous," which means they can break down over time, releasing the chemicals in them and trapping dirt and bacteria on the surface of the toy.

Are Phthalates harmful?

The jury is still out on this one. Some studies have shown harmful effects from phthalates in rats, but only with very large doses of the chemical. One study showed an effect on male fetuses' genital development if pregnant women were exposed to high levels of phthalates. The most exhaustive study to date showed no adverse health risks or environmental impact from phthalates.

What’s Babeland’s recommendation?

We’ll leave it up to you to weigh the existing studies, but Babeland recommends using condoms with any toy that contains phthalates to be on the safe side while the studies continue. Babeland also recommends using condoms with phthalate toys because they can sometimes be irritating to the skin, and condoms can cut down on that irritation. Lastly, condoms make these porous toys much easier to clean.

How can I tell if my toy has phthalates?

Many toys with phthalates are also known as jelly-rubber toys. They are soft and rubbery to the touch and frequently give off a plastic smell when opened (think about the smell of a newly opened shower curtain). Toys contain different levels of phthalates; for example, there are some toys that are labeled as “silicone," but still contain small amounts of phthalates. Soft vinyl toys also contain trace amounts of phthalates. If you discover that you own a toy with phthalates, all you have to do is put a condom on it and you won’t have to worry.

Which toys don’t have phthalates?

If you want to avoid phthalates altogether, stay away from toys that smell like plastic, and read the ingredients if they are available. You can always go to a knowledgeable sex toy store like Babeland and ask the employees. We also have the material of every toy we sell on our website, right there in the description for easy shopping.


There are also many fantastic toys out there that are not made with phthalates. The material that feels closest to jelly rubber, but without phthalates, is elastomer. Relatively new on the market, elastomer toys contain no phthalates or latex yet are still soft and fun to use. Some of Babeland’s popular elastomer toys are the

You can also check out toys made out of silicone. These premium-grade toys are also soft, and are very easy to keep clean. You can get many different kinds of toys made out of silicone including dildos, vibrators and butt plugs. Some of our favorites include the Vixen dildos and the Ripple.


If you’re looking for something a bit firmer, try stainless steel, glass or hard plastic toys. These long-lasting toys provide fantastic pressure and get very slick with a little bit of lube. Not only that, but many of the glass toys are so beautiful they make excellent pieces of art when you aren’t using them!

Where can I get more information?

To find out more about the different types of toy materials that are available, check out Babeland’s shopping advice or stop in to one of our stores to see the toys for yourself. For the latest updates on phthalate research, check in with Babeland’s blog.