Review: Heart 2 Heart Cuffs

The Heart 2 Heart Cuffs encapsulate three things that, IMHO, are essential for a set of cuffs: they’re affordable ($35), pretty, and well-made. In fact, I’m so taken with them that I want to try and collect the whole set: another pair of cuffs, blindfold, and whip, which have the added charm of being decorated with rows of tiny red hearts, which make me think of the Red Queen in Alice in Wonderland (for me, a good thing).

The cuffs are fairly simple. To my understanding, from reading the packaging and the product description, they’re made of real leather, though shinier and more towards the patent-leather type. The leather is soft and pliable. None of that tacky, stiff, unpleasant bullshit that comes with shitty or fake leather. They also come with shiny silver buckles, studs and D-rings. The best part? They’re black and red. Which is my favorite color combination (um, just check out the theme of this blog). Now I have cuffs that match my lingerie! Yay!

The cuffs aren’t lined, but they’re comfortable, and I can strain against them without any chafing. I also couldn’t tease the buckle undone with my fingers, even with the cuffs connected together with a carabiner. Fairly escape-proof.

I’m very happy with these cuffs – as functional and wonderful as the Sportsheets Under the Bed cuffs are, it’s nice to have something prettier and a little more heavy duty. I only have a few criticisms:

#1 The set doesn’t come with any kind of connector. They’re cheap enough that I’m sure it wouldn’t kill the company to include one. I don’t own any, so I had to steal a carabiner off of one of my roommates’ Nalgenes.

#2 The cuffs don’t look like they’d fit people with thicker wrists/ankles. My wrists are tiny, and I already use the fourth hole. I honestly doubt that anyone has wrists so bony that they’d need to use the first or second hole.

#3 If you look at the underside of the cuff, the line of holes is accompanied with a long cut of some sort, that goes down the length of all the holes. It’s not that big of a deal, and the cuff doesn’t threaten to rip apart or anything like that. It is a little ugly to look at, though.

#4 I just cannot back putting “2″ in the name of a sex toy. I am not a teenager on AIM, and I don’t want sex toys that make me feel like one.

There you have it. My BDSM toybox is growing, and the Heart 2 Heart Cuffs are a wonderful addition to it.

Review: Forplay Toy Cleaner

Today I’ll be reviewing an “Adult Toy Cleanser” by ForPlay from PinkCherry.com sex toys. I requested it as a change from straight-up sextoys, and also wanted to try something that I could contrast with the antibacterial dish-soap I’ve been using to clean my toys so far.

I’ll get the banalities out of the way first: using this cleaner is pretty straightforward. The cleaner comes in a 7 oz bottle, which lasts for about 11 washes. You pour 2/3 oz into 3 quarts of warm water and stir it around with your hand to mix the cleaner in. The bottle has lines along the side marking 1 oz so you can measure out the amount easily. According to the description on the bottle and on PinkCherry.com, the cleaner is compatible with pretty much anything, but works better with soft materials like silicone. I tried it out on a few of my toys and it was a relatively straightforward process, although I didn’t find it necessarily more convenient or hygienic than just using soap.

That said, I discovered the problem with this cleaner when I decided to Google the main ingredient so I could contrast it with soap/other cleaners in terms of efficiency and hygiene. The main ingredient, as stated on the bottle and website, is Nonoxynol-9, known to some as N-9. The bottle describes N-9 as a “stabilized aqueous solution” and warns that it may cause irritation if splashed into one’s eyes. Fair enough. I don’t generally let my toys get too close to my eyes anyway.

Some quick research online and a shout out to my Tweeps yielded very different results. Apparently, N-9 is used in spermicides, condoms, cervical barriers and lubes because people thought it guarded against pregnancy and STDs (it can kill microbes in vitro). That would make sense as a sextoy cleaner, because spreading STDs and other germs is always something to guard against when sharing toys, right?

No. Studies have shown that N-9 not only isn’t effective in guarding against STDs, but actually increases the likelihood of contracting them by 50%, to be precise. And this is including HIV and HPV. It irritates the vaginal wall, and several of my Tweeps said that using products with N-9 in them caused itching.

Okay, so the toy cleaner isn’t meant to be applied directly to one’s vagina, just on the toys, so if you rinse the toys thoroughly, you should have nothing to worry about.

N-9 is more effective in killing bacteria, which would make it a more effective cleaner than ordinary soap. But what about, say, bleach solution or rubbing alcohol? I’d be more inclined to use one of those instead of shelling out ~$10 for something that isn’t absolutely body-safe.

2/5 stars.

Review: Evolved True Love Amore edition

DSCN3337I’m back with another review. This one is the Evolved True Love (Amore edition) – the second traditional vibe that I’ve tried out so far.

First of all, as always: the packaging. Such an important aspect in sex toys, and I’m only half joking. The Amore True Love comes in a tin box that closes with two clasps on either end, and lies in what appears to be some foam material that’s trying to be velvet. The box design is kitschily attractive, and I actually like it quite a bit. If it wasn’t for the obvious phallic cutout and “waterproof Amore” on the front, I’d probably use it to store writing materials on my desk. At least it can still be used to store the Amore itself, which is useful. The foam lining, I don’t like as much. Since the Amore attracts dust like nobody’s business, the foam was a particularly poor choice. My first experience with the Amore was to try and brush the multitude of minuscule foam bits off of it, to no avail.

A quick wash later, the Amore was ready to go. But then I ran into another obstacle – the battery compartment. I had more trouble with this battery compartment than you would ever believe. It made me feel pretty stupid. (I felt better about myself after both F and my younger sister tried and failed as well.)

You can find the battery compartment by unscrewing the Amore’s base. The Amore takes two AA batteries. Hold on: more specifically, the Amore takes only the best kind of AA battery, and not if it’s already been used. First, I tried the unknown brand of battery that Vibrator.com had generously provided. (The Amore itself doesn’t come with batteries included.) Nothing. I flipped the +/- poles around. Still nothing. (The little sticker on the compartment, indicating which battery should have its + pole facing upwards, wasn’t really a big help because if I turned the Amore around, the two poles on the sticker would flip over again.) I tried the Energizer batteries from my camera. Nada. (The battery bar on my camera was still pretty close to full.) After a bit of correspondence with Vibrator.com (I thought this particular Amore might not be working), they had an Amore sent over to them and messed around with it a bit, and suggested that I try a better / more high powered brand of battery. So I bought a fresh pack of Duracells. The first time I put them in, the Amore worked. Great! The second time I tried, it didn’t. Wha? It took me a while to figure out that the compartment has to be closed very tightly, otherwise it won’t work.

So, now, onto the Amore itself. Finally. The Amore is made of TPR (thermoplastic rubber) which is phthalate-free, but cannot be fully sterilized. It also feels cheaper and less smooth compared to silicone. One plus is that TPR can be used with all kinds of lubes, and this vibrator was more bendy than most silicone dildos/vibrators I’ve encountered, though I’m not sure that’s true of all TPR vibrators.

The Amore comes in a pretty, iridescent blue color, which was part of the reason why I picked it. However, the Amore looks better in its pictures than it does in the flesh. Compared to the Vibrator.com product picture, the blue is a lot duller. It’s also semi see-through. Maybe you care to see the inner workings of your toy, but I don’t.

OK, so how does the Amore hold up performance-wise? It’s waterproof, which is an instant plus. Strong vibrations, if a little unsexily loud. Three vibration settings, which you cycle through by pushing the button on its base. The vibrator is placed at the tip of the shaft, which is an excellent idea. More vibrations on the g-spot! It’s also very girthy. I couldn’t take it the first few tries, probably due to the lack of a tapered head as much as the girth, and had to build myself up to it with smaller toys first. Even then, it stretched me out almost uncomfortably. The waves on the shaft didn’t provide intense texture, but I could feel them, which was good. The vibrations felt quite lovely, even on the first setting.

I’d recommend this vibe to someone who likes more girth. But since the Amore only saves you a few dollars compared to a silicone-sleeved vibe, why not just get the silicone-sleeved one instead?

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Specs:

Material: Phthalate-free TPR
Length: 8″
Insertable length: 6 1/2″
Circumference: 6″
Colors: Blue & Purple
Price @ Vibrator.com: $43

3/5 stars.

Review: CyberSilicone Perfectly Hot Pink

A8809-6I requested the CyberSilicone Perfectly Hot Pink because I was curious about Adam & Eve and had yet to try a traditional vibrator, and this one looked pretty decent. It was also a bit of a random choice since I didn’t take as much time to go through products before selecting them this time.

The Perfectly Hot Pink is… hot pink. A very, very aggressive shade of hot pink. And no, it doesn’t come in any other color. (Otherwise why would it be called the Hot Pink? I’m not a big fan of the name, to tell you the truth, mostly because it doesn’t end in a noun and you can’t tell what it is from the name alone…) I’ve actually come to really like wearing hot pink, but putting it inside me? Doesn’t appeal to me quite as much. It’s also a more realistically-styled vibrator (except for the color), complete with veins, and I’m not a big fan of that, either. Basically, in terms of how it looks the Hot Pink is alright, but doesn’t exactly appeal to me.

Size-wise, the Hot Pink is pretty hefty. It measures 7″ (insertable) x 1.5″, and definitely would not be a good beginner’s choice. Personally, I’ve come to realize that I’m not much of a girth-person; I prefer toys on the smaller-to-moderate side. Working the Hot Pink inside myself took quite a bit of effort. I could fit about 5-6″ inside me and then had to limit myself to shallow thrusts. It also doesn’t have any give at all, since it’s basically a straight, plastic vibrator encased in Cybersilicone.

I actually enjoyed using it on my clit the most. Typical, right? I lubed it up and rubbed the shaft up and down my clit, and it felt pretty amazing. I really liked having something to push up against, and the vibrations of the Hot Pink were strong enough to get me off even though they weren’t concentrated on my clit directly.

…Which brings us to the vibrations, which are powered by two AA batteries, and operated with a simple dial in the base that turns from low to high. The high vibrations are pretty damn high. The Hot Pink definitely delivers in that department, without being overly noisy. The only annoying thing is the positioning of the dial – it doesn’t give you a comfortable space to grasp onto, and the dial is quite small, so if I hold onto that, there’s a chance I’ll turn the vibrations down or up by mistake.

You can also use the Hot Pink in the bath! It’s completely waterproof – there’s an O-ring where the battery compartment screws shut, which prevents water from leaking in. I tried it out in the shower, and held it under a sink full of water for a good few minutes, and it still worked fine.

What makes the Perfectly Hot Pink unique is that it’s made of CyberSilicone, which according to its description, is phthalate-free and non-porous. It is a combination of silicone & cyberskin according to some sources, or a combination of silicone and TPR (thermoplastic rubber) according to others. I’m a little confused about that. In any case, it is not a step-up from regular silicone. I would expect it to feel more realistic or something, if it’s partly made out of cyberskin, but it doesn’t. It actually feels tackier than regular silicone, and has a very unsexy, rubbery smell. I can only smell it when I put it right up to my nose, but for a perfectionist like me that’s still pretty aggravating. Because it has silicone components in it, you can’t use silicone lube with it. Cleaning/sterilizing it is also more of an issue because of the vibrating parts, so you’d only be able to use bleach solution, not boiling or dishwashing.

Right. Now, with all that said, I have to confess that I was being a bad toy owner and wasn’t storing my toys properly for a while. I was traveling from San Francisco to Hong Kong, and put all of my toys in a cloth bag in my luggage. After I got home, I dumped the bag in my closet and left it it there for about a week or so. After I took them all out to sterilize them, I realized that there were some damages on the surface of the Hot Pink – there were several spots where it looked like someone had dragged their finger across the it and “smudged” it. (Tried to take a picture but the spots don’t show up on my crappy camera.) I can only conclude that that happened because I was storing all my silicone toys together when they’re not supposed to be touching each other – whoops. All my other pure-silicone toys, however, were fine, so the Cybersilicone must actually be of worse quality than plain silicone.A8809-62

I was also changing the batteries once, and I must have damaged the dial or something because now there’s a slight rattling noise, and instead of going smoothly from low to high when you turn the dial, it does two “loops”, that is: low to high suddenly back to low to high, again. :| Moral of the story: take care of your sex toys… but still, a toy that can’t survive my owning it for two months without getting damaged in some way probably isn’t made of the best quality material.

In conclusion: a good & versatile vibrator for people who prefer more girth. It may have it’s flaws – but for only ~$25? Quite a deal.

3/5 stars :)

Review: Lelo Siri

Lelo recently came out with three new products (well, not so new anymore I guess) in their Femme line. I was lucky enough to get the clitoral stimulator, the Siri, for review. These new products come with certain differences when compared to their older sisters; Siri in particular is marketed as having more power than Lelo’s other clitoral vibes. I’ve never had issues with the levels of Lelo’s vibrations, but I’ve read reviews by many other bloggers who complained about lack of power being Lelo’s one weakness.

Siri is incredibly cute. It looks kind of like an easter egg, and comes in 3 different colors – including a beautiful, vibrant red that I was really excited about. (Red is one of my favorite colors and I’ve found that there’s an unfortunate shortage of red sex toys.) I got sent the pink version, though. Oh well.

I don’t think I’ll be able to delve beyond appearances without comparing Siri to Lelo’s other products. Let’s see how Siri stands up compared to the old product designs, and to one of Lelo’s other clitoral vibrators, the Lily.

New Packaging & Control System

First off: the packaging. One thing Lelo is known for is their elegance and attention to detail when it comes to presentation. Siri’s packaging is much the same as the old packaging: a flimsier outer box, then a plain black storage box. However, once I lifted the lid of the storage box, my heart sank a little. I expected Lelo’s typical plastic “mould” that holds the toy in place, and houses the manual, charger, 1-year warranty, 10-year quality guarentee and satin storage pouch underneath it. Instead, I found a paper & plastic clamshell. This looks significantly tackier to me.

Looks aside, the new packaging poses a problem because you need to tear it open to get at the toy. Once you do that, you have to throw the clamshell out. With the old system, you could use it to store your new toy safely in the storage box if you wanted. Now, the toy will be left loose; rattling around in its box if moved.

The other noticeable difference is the control system. Siri has four buttons: the top and bottom ones control strength, and the left and right ones control mode. Hold them all down for a few seconds to lock and unlock the toy. Pretty intuitive. And the buttons still light up.

Compared to the old controls, there are things I like and dislike about it. The old button was a big circle, with each spot on the circle corresponding to the aforementioned functions. On the plus side, these buttons are bigger and easier to press. On the minus side, I can’t distinguish between the buttons with my fingers as easily. Usually when I get off, I’m under the covers and so the toy is under the covers, too, out of my sight. With the old controls, I could move my finger around the circle and feel for the part of the circle that I wanted. I find it harder to differentiate between these buttons, which means I sometimes don’t press the right thing on the first try, which can be a little annoying. Annoying also is the fact that I have to press these buttons harder to make them work, so I’m usually pressing one button twice, because the first time doesn’t work.

Siri is rechargeable (2 hours of charging time for 4 hours of use), displays a white light when charging and a red light when the battery is low, and is made of matte silicone (colored part) & plastic (white part). To sterilize the silicone area of the toy, you can wipe it with 10% bleach solution or rubbing alcohol. Also, silicone toys are not compatible with silicone lubes.

Is it stronger than Lelo’s other vibes? My answer is undoubtedly yes. I’m very happy with the Siri and look forward to trying even more new Lelo toys! (I’m looking at the mint-new Insignia line next.)

Check out the Siri & more sex toys at Your Adult Toy Store.