The Crush Letter No 98: Toy Tester Report

The Crush Letter No 98: Toy Tester Report

. 16 min read

I'm Dish and I write a weekly newsletter about life, love and culture for those 40+.  Because midlife and beyond is so much cooler than they said it would be.  Hell yes, sign me up for the Dish.

Hello Crush,

This week we're bringing you another PrimeCrush Toy Tester Report. It's slippery, but I think you'll love it. Big thanks to all our Toy Testers - your fellow readers have really been working it hard, Crushes.

The PrimeCrush Toy Tester Reports go out only to subscribers. Thank god you already subscribed, right? Got any friends who might find our Toy Tester Reports useful? You'd be doing them a favor if you introduced them to The Crush Letter, and I'd love you for it.


If you're new here (welcome!), I'm Dish, the Master of Ceremonies. For more about me and why we're here go here.


In This Letter.   +Let's Get It On: The PrimeCrush Toy Tester Project. Our PrimeCrush Toy Testers are sharing their reviews on three personal lubricants Sliquid Sizzle and Soul lubes and Beloved Intimacy Serum & Moisturizer   +{Re-share} Everything’s Better Wetter: A Few Words About Lube! and Some Other Rec's. By Dish Stanley    +Our Song of the Week I feel like letting my freak flag fly


Let's Get It On: The PrimeCrush Toy Tester Project.

SLIQUID Sizzle & Soul Lubes & Beloved Intimacy Serum

Actual PrimeCrush Readers have agreed to try out and review for the rest of us a range of sex products (toys, lubes, books, vibrators, you name it).

Yeah, our PrimeCrush Toy Tester Project is an ambitious effort, but thankfully some of your fellow Readers have taken on the hard job of being sexual explorers.

The PrimeCrush Toy Tester Reports go out only to subscribers. Note that I earn no affiliate (or any other fees) from these reviews, and all our Toy Testers have confirmed that they are independent reviewers free of conflicts.

We are back with more reviews from the PrimeCrush Toy Testers.

A little background on our Toy Tester project if you’re new here. The single most recurring request I get from CRUSH Readers is for more recommendations on sex toys, products, techniques, sites, and information.  Honest, independent reviews on things CRUSH Readers might want to try from the CRUSH community.

This was true when I published the first product recommendation, on the suction vibrator that Dame Products sold out of shortly after its launch (reprint below), and then again when I wrote about arousal gels (reprint below).  After I published the article  Field Trip: What Five Midlife Couples Learned On One Powerful Weekend Away With A Sex & Relationship Therapist, I got more. And when I wrote about How To Find Porn That's Actually Good, even more.

This is why PrimeCrush launched its Sex Toy Tester group.  We have over a dozen volunteers, solo and partnered up, who test a wide range of toys, books, props, lubes, apps (etc.) and then (confidentially) let us know what we might want to try. (Not every tester gets every product; we send them out based on our testers preferences. Each product generally goes to 4-6 testers.)

Let’s get to today’s action. Our PrimeCrush Toy Testers are sharing their reviews on three personal lubricants.

While we’re on the subject of lubes, you may also want to read my ode to lubes (reprinted below).

We Reviewed SLIQUID SIZZLE & SOUL LUBEs

We asked PrimeCrush Toy Testers to volunteer the brand they had already been and loved best. Out of 10 responses, only one brand got multiple (4) mentions, Sliquid. Personally, one of my straight-up favorites is their Sliquid Naturals H2O. It uses plant cellulose as a thickening agent, and for that reason it lasts. Like the Sizzle and Soul formulations, it is free of glycerin, parabens, gluten and sulfates and other harmful products and is also 100% vegan-friendly, non-toxic and hypoallergenic. Based on some of our Toy Testers' familiarity with Sliquid, we picked two different Sliquid formulations that were likely to be new to them: the Sizzle and Soul formulations.

Sliquid Soul Naturals is made with cocoanut and other organic oils. It can actually be applied to your skin topically to moisturize it as well as used as an intimate product. Like the Sizzle (discussed below), Soul is free of glycerin, parabens, gluten and sulfates and other harmful products and is also 100% vegan-friendly, non-toxic and hypoallergenic. I have a lot friends who use just cocoanut oil as both a moisturizer and lubricant, and Soul's "selling point" is that it is a luxurious step above for those consumers. Note that (as introduced in my ode to lubes below) because it is oil-based it can't be used with latex (toys, condoms, etc).

Sliquid Sizzle Naturals is similar to an arousal gel in that it is infused with food-grade menthol. It is a water-based lubricant intended to create a zing as you start things up.  It goes on cool, but warms with friction. Like Soul it is toxic-free and natural. Because it is water based it is good for use with toys. Note that it is not as thick as the Sliquid Naturals H2O mentioned above. (For more on arousal gels, scroll down.) When we asked our Toy Testers what they thought of the Sliquid products here's what they said:

Would you recommend the SLIQUID Sizzle & Soul Lubes to other CRUSH Readers?

4 out of 4 toy testers said “Yes.”

Here are some specific comments on Sliquid Sizzle & Soul:

  • Worked like a lot of lubes. Effective but the Soul didn’t stand out. Also, I don’t normally use lube to masturbate but the warming sensation felt great. Seemed like we needed to use more than other lubes (Soul). - “CJ”
  • I enjoyed them both equally and for different reasons. I love that both products are free of parabens and other unwelcome chemicals. Sizzle has a wonderful cooling effect when first applied and then warmed up once we got started. This is an amazingly great feature. Truly. Fun to try. A simple way to mix things up. My partner and I enjoy a bit more friction, and at times, Sizzle was too slippery. Sliquid Soul, on the other hand, has the perfect texture for us. It feels delicious. It is oil based (cocoanut) so not for use with latex products, but is non-staining so feel free to spread it around! My partner and I have a lot of fun together in many aspects of life. Being a toy tester has created even more playfulness. Thank you, Dish! - “Dixie”
  • I really loved them both. I looooove knowing that they are non-toxic. And for a non-toxic straight-up lubricant, I could see the SLIQUID Soul becoming a regular. But you can't use it with products, and for that I use the water-based Sliquid H2O Natural. It lasts longer. I have to say, I’d never tried a “warming” lube and it felt good. They feel similar to us in terms of slipperiness and thickness. They feel great. I would say that they are not quite as “natural” feeling as the Beloved serum {reviewed below}, but they are both probably longer lasting. The warmth of the Sizzle will be great on a cool night. Thanks, Dish! - "Kay (57)"
  • Liked the SLIQUID more than some other lubes we've tried. We were overzealous using SLIQUID Sizzle the first time and found a little goes a long way. My (male) partner liked it as much as I did. Now, need to get more. Sliquid Sizzle is more than enough to shoot you over the edge…multiple times!  It definitely helps you sizzle:)  - “Andrea”

BELOVED Intimacy Serum & Moisturizer

This intimacy serum is a new product brought to market by Founder Sara Gold. She is a woman of a certain age who discovered that moving into her "change of life," as she puts it, brought on a change in her hormones that resulted in dryness. Moisture is tied to a number of factors, and your hormones are one cause that can be familiar to women as we hit middle age. After searching for a lubricant that was both safe and made with high-quality, natural ingredients while also being packaged in an attractive, discreet bottle suitably sophisticated for "us," she decided to create a product herself.

Beloved Intimacy Serum & Moisturizer is a luxurious product that combines lube with a moisturizer and mimics the feel of a woman’s natural wetness. It is intended for those looking for a sensual and natural consistency and because it is intended to mimic natural wetness, it feels less greasy, sticky, slick, and thick than a lot of lubes. It comes in an attractive “serum” holder that looks more like an upscale facial moisturizer than a typical lube. And it is completely free of bad ingredients, of course. (Like every lube we recommend, it has none of the toxic stuff in it.) When we asked our Toy Testers, here's what they said:

Would you recommend Beloved Intimacy Serum to other CRUSH Readers?

4 out of 4 toy testers said “Yes.”

Here are some specific comments on Beloved:

Tell us whether you enjoyed your BELOVED Intimacy Serum & Moisturizer.

  • A product I didn’t know I needed has become one of my favorites. The slip and feel of BELOVED are startlingly natural. The light consistency and natural feeling of wetness made this a perfect product for daily moisturizing, which I thought was a weird thing at first, but is now a normal ritual. Oh, it’s also great for play! I tend to prefer oils when with my partner, but BELOVED pairs nicely with my toys:) My elegant container of BELOVED Intimacy Serum & Moisturizer isn’t hidden away in some drawer, it’s sitting proudly on my bedside table.  - “Dixie”
  • Well, it’s so pretty. I love the container. So that’s the first thing I noticed. I really liked it; so lovely. I love the feel of it - very natural, not too slick or thick. As I said, really lovely. What I realized after using it is that in terms of lovemaking, it is best for nights when I just want a little bit of lube - a little bit of extra wet. I will use something thicker and more long-lasting for a “Saturday night” (eg, a big sex night). But honestly, my partner and I have a lot of nights where it is just a kind of nice little quickie and I don’t want or need all the goo for those nights. Beloved is perfect for that. Highly recommend it! I have been using lube more, and I have you to thank for that, Dish. It really is better. I’ve also never thought there was much difference between lubes - and I never paid attention to lube ingredients. So I thank you very much for your “Wetter Is Better” piece. I liked knowing that Beloved (as well as the other lubes you sent us for testing) were non-toxic. - “Kay”
  • I love this. It is not tacky. It is so natural. I haven’t tried a lubricant that feels so natural. I would say it is not a typical lube in that it is for adding some extra wetness for some lovely intimacy rather than a situation where you have a night of porn sex in front of you. But honestly, most nights I am *not* spending the night doing porn sex. So I’d rather use this on a day-to-day basis and pull out the thicker lube on occasion. “Jane”
  • Good… Pleasure to use but guess I was somehow expecting more… something.       - “Harry”

{I promised to re-share my "ode to lubes," as well as these other recommendations, in case you're new here!}

Everything’s Better Wetter: A Few Words About Lube! By Dish Stanley

Lube is a Toy Box favorite, but make sure to check the ingredients. The same standards for clean products that have infused other parts of the health & wellness industries are not as widespread in the intimacy products market.

Wetter Is Better (or Why Lube Is Liquid Magic).  Lube is like a liquefied Silk Sonic song as far as I'm concerned. It turns me on. It makes everything feel smoother, more intense, and like we're exploring something exciting.  One of my best friends is adamant about only one thing when it comes to sex.  (She's a fluid sort.) It’s better, and she has more orgasms, with lube than without it. Why? It’s silky and soothing, it’s fun, it can become part of a foreplay ritual (eg, a hand job that glides smoothly while applying the desired pressure), it can allow you to have sex longer (if you want!), and if you use it every single time it eliminates not only dryness but also (even more importantly) anxiety about potential dryness. (Because even if you are naturally well-lubricated, some day-to-day variation is inevitable.)

Consider this: I have another girlfriend who had never tried it because she said, she didn’t need it. But she’s a game person and with some urging from me and another girlfriend (in a Sex And The City moment over brunch), gave it a shot. What’d she say?

“I’m wet enough that I didn’t think I *had* to have it. But the sex was wetter. Wetter is always better when it comes to sex. We’ll definitely keep using it.”

What’s In the Lube Matters. I have some friends who aren’t particular about what lube they use - whether it is silicone-based, water-based, or oil-based (though you don’t want to use most oil-based lubes with most toys because it degrades latex). They don’t notice or care about feel, consistency, smell, or packaging.

I have become more particular.  That’s because (and I hate to be alarming) the more I learned about lubes, the more I realized that the “clean” movement that has spread through much of health and wellness-focused products has not extended as deeply into sex products. There is toxic shit in a lot of lubes.  I try to avoid additives and chemicals in my food and other body/cleaning products, and I sure as hell don’t want them up my vagina. A lot of lubes have ingredients, like various forms of sugar, that whether or not you are limiting them in your diet, you sure as hell should eliminate from your lube.

I started taking the ingredients in lube seriously a couple of years ago after trying a significant brand’s “Organix” lube in a pinch and ending up with a yeast infection two days later. My doctor pointed out that many lube contains forms of sugar, like glycerin. Sugars are a food source for microbes, particularly yeast. I checked the label on that lube and sure enough, it had “Xanthan Gum” in it, which I looked up and sure enough, it’s essentially sugar. So the lube was “all natural” but not healthy. That’s not sweet.

Now I use a few highly trusted brands (more on them when we publish our Toy Tester reports), check all ingredients, or go without my beloved lube.

What do I like in a lube? I like brands that use products that are formulated to be consistent with a woman’s natural pH. I like aloe (it’s soothing), and prefer water-based. I like to see “organic ingredients,” “unflavored” and “unscented” in the description, and also “safe for toys and condoms”.

What ingredients do I avoid? Anything on this list: DEA, gluten, glycerin, glycol, parabens, propylene, sorbitol, hormones, and sulfates. To learn more about lube ingredients, here is an article from SELF magazine with more detailed information. I can’t do a better job on it myself: 6 Lube Ingredients You Might Not Want to Put In Your Vagina.

So, lube up! But for your and your partner’s sake, check the label first.

Arousal Gels, Babe. Arousal gels for women have been piling into my ad space lately, so I ordered three from natural brands I trust: Dame Products, Simple Jane, and Foria. They all feel good (not at the same time!), amplified the feelings, made me tingle, heightened the experience, and felt more "organic" than a lot of lubricants.  Here's my quick take: I like them all, but Temptress from Simple Jane and Awaken from Foria both have CBD in their formulas (maybe I imagined it, but I felt calmer and more open, and I really liked that).  Temptress (with CBD) has a spicy/clove smell that I wouldn't pick for a beach vacation but is great for a cold night (and, let's be real, it also has the best name). Foria's Awaken (with CBD) had a subtler taste and smell (and I preferred that on a warm night) (and Foria has a version called Pleasure that also has THC in it, which I'd like to try but couldn't get). Dame Product's straightforwardly named Arousal Serum had the most tingle, my favorite smell, and taste (mildly minty), and is the least expensive (and if you prefer it without CBD, this may be your pick). Pro Tips for all of them: start with a very small amount because the sensations can be strong. And they might take a few minutes to rev up (especially the CBD products).  Arousal gels are distinct from lubricants and don't replace lube.  It's wonderful to try them at the same time, tbh.

Literal Good Vibrations. Dame Products has been making sex toys for women (by women) since 2014, so we expect good moves from them. But under the heading, "T.M.I." a reviewer in Refinery29 says that Dame’s just-released latest, a suction vibrator, made her feel like she was getting oral play from a cloud. (The review itself was pretty exciting, truth be told.) “Dame's Suction Vibrator Feels Like Getting Oral From A Cloud". And if this toy sounds maybe a little too advanced, depending on how far along you are in your toy journey (not judging here), it might make sense to first dip into this seminal piece by Liza Lentini, Features Editor at perennially hip rock mag Spin. “The Sex Files: A Crash Course in Sex Toys

Traveling with sex toys. A few pro tips for traveling with your toys:  go small with the toys (for instance, I wear this, bring this, and know guys who don't travel without this "it's f*cking fabulous Dish!"; wrap/pack up your toys in separate silk bags or stash them in this (so they don't go off!);  to get around the 3.4-ounce liquid size limits plan in advance by stocking up on these lube packs; do NOT pack your toys in your carry-on - they will disappear! (TSA evidently only hires people who want to try your toys!); and - most importantly - if you do find yourself standing in front of TSA security while they rifle through your silk bag of sex toys, there is only one way of handling it.  Look them straight in the eye, shrug, and say "Yeah, it's going to be a good trip.  I've got a handle on it (wink.)."

Song of the Week

Almost Cut My Hair By Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young

This is an epic live version of Almost Cut My Hair from 1974 (though I couldn't figure out where the performance was). It was on their 1970 Deja Vu album, and boy what a great album. Almost Cut My Hair was written by Crosby and features more solo vocals than some of the other songs from Deja Vu, which showcase such exquisite harmonies. As you've heard by now, Crosby just died at 81. To me this song best encapsulates Crosby and the counter-culture life he chose. He lived hard and fast and by his own rules, which for him also meant frequent reports of fights with bandmates and ex-lovers.

Listen here.

I also found this clip where Crosby talks to David Stern about Joni Mitchell, her album Blue (which he calls the greatest singer-songwriter album of their generation), why she's more talented than Bob Dylan, dating her and the song she wrote to break up with him. Good gossipy stuff from someone laying it out after a long life.

Remember that there are a couple of things I'd love to know.

If you read my piece on Sylvie from Emily In Paris 'Merci’!' to Emily In Paris for One of the Most Compelling Women in Pop Culture. Sylvie., then you know I'm looking to hear what characters in pop culture depict women of a certain age that you love.

Favorite Characters Over 50+

And two weeks ago I started our new Ask Dish: Stray Questions column. Hit me up with your question here.

Ask Dish Poll

I hope you have a happy week.

Dish Stanley X-oh!-X,
Dish

You Won't Want to Miss A Thing. Here Are Links to Some Favorites.

The PrimeCrush Toy Tester Project. (Hint: You Need to Subscribe to Get All Our Reviews.) By Dish Stanley
Note: this page is about our PrimeCrush Toy Tester Project, in which actualPrimeCrush Readers agree to try out and review for the rest of us a range of sexproducts (toys, lubes, books, vibrators, you name it). We are sharing our reviewof Great Sex Starts at 50 by
Ask Dish: Answers to Your Stray Questions
From the sublime to the ridiculous, I get a lot of random questions. I answer some of them here. Got a stray question? Submit it using the link below.
The Solo Issue: The Secrets That We Keep. By Lisa Ellex
In a series of in-depth conversations with midlife women and men, this authorasked volunteers from the PrimeCrush community to share the things they’rehesitant to say out loud to even their closest coupled-up friends. The Secrets That We Keep: Brutally Honest Conversations About Being Solo. ByL…
TOPIX - A Series: Exile in Normalville
TOPIX is our way of getting opinionated, courageous conversations started on what living and loving really looks like in midlife now.


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