When you buy a sex toy, you want a product that feels outstanding. Sex toy manufacturers are constantly looking for ways to make their toys more realistic, and the latest ultra-realistic materials are sensational.

However, before you buy any toy, you should know how to care for it and how not to use it. This article provides an overview of some of the most common realistic sex toy materials to help you make an informed purchase.

CyberSkin and Other Thermal Plastic Materials: What Are They?

Many newer toys are made from thermoplastic elastomer, a material that starts out soft in its production process. Chemicals are gradually added to increase the hardness and elasticity. This process allows for a range of textures, and some manufacturers have used proprietary methods to capture a certain “feel.”

A popular example is CyberSkin and UR3. Developed to simulate the sensation of – you guessed it – skin, it’s extraordinarily soft. CyberSkin and UR3 are also waterproof, and often used for male masturbators. CyberSkin toys are safe, durable, and very realistic. They don’t use phthalates (more on this later). They’re also fairly soft and elastic, but more porous than silicone.

To clean any thermal plastic products, you’ll need to use a very mild soap and warm water. Sex toy cleaners are often an easier and safer option than dish or hand soaps. When you’re finished cleaning, pat dry with a lint-free towel to prevent mold. You’ll also need to apply a renewal powder, which is typically available from your toy’s manufacturer. Renewal powders essentially prevent the thermal plastic from degrading in quality or changing in texture.

Some thermoplastic elastomer toys don’t require this extra maintenance, as their production procedures result in a firmer product. Check with your toy’s manufacturer to see if your purchase will require any special maintenance.

Alternatives to CyberSkin, UR3, and Thermal Plastic

There are a few significant disadvantages to soft thermal plastic materials. They’re relatively expensive and they require some upkeep, and even with proper care, they might not last as long as toys made from other materials. While the lifelike feel can be awesome, it’s not necessary for some types of toys – for example, dildos and vibrators.

Perhaps most importantly, CyberSkin is porous. This can increase the risks of infections and other health issues if you’re not careful to clean your toy after every use. Of course, if you’re not interested in CyberSkin, there are plenty of alternatives.

One option is silicone. This is a popular hypoallergenic material, and it’s safe for people with especially sensitive skin. Many silicone products have a soft, realistic feel (as with thermoplastic, the exact hardness or softness of the toy will vary according to the manufacturing techniques used in its production). Silicone toys are only compatible with water-based lubricants.

Jelly is another common material. This is a low-cost substance with a soft feel, but it’s impossible to sanitize. This is because jelly is naturally very porous; it’s made from a mixture of rubber and polyvinyl chloride (PVC). Jelly is also made with phthalates, which are added to the material to improve flexibility. Phthalates have been linked to testosterone production issues in some laboratory studies, so many users avoid sex toy materials that use these substances (check out our piece on phthalates for more information).

If you’re looking for the most realistic toy that you can find, CyberSkin might be worth the extra effort. However, there are plenty of great, realistic toys made with silicone, thermoplastic elastomer, thermoplastic rubber, and other alternatives. You might need to experiment with a few different materials to find a product that works for you. Just be sure to wash your toy regularly and use an appropriate lubricant, and you’ll be able to enjoy your new purchase with peace of mind.