Color Safety

the heck M I DOING?!

Safety TLDR

  • I won’t use anything toxic in toys.
  • All the standard pigments I use (solid colors, metallic colors, etc) are either skin safe, cosmetic grade for use around the lips & eyes or edible.
  • Glow powder that may cause skin irritation in some people. When in doubt – order a silicone swatch and see if it bothers you before ordering a full sized toy or simply avoid toys with said products entirely. More info below. 
  • [Plastic] glitter has a risk of eventually working it’s way out of a toy. I use micro-fine glitter in an effort to minimize the risk, but if it’s a concern, avoid pre-made toys with ‘glitter’ in the title.

I have lots more specific info listed below, and I’d highly encourage you to check that out before purchasing a toy! It never hurts to know exactly what you’re buying.

One final note before we go further: Many people consider the silicone barrier surrounding powdered pigments to be sufficient insurance there won’t be direct physical contact with the pigments that were included, and I personally tend to agree. I still go out of my way to find the safest materials possible when creating toys and would never use anything that was overtly banned or toxic.

That being said, I felt it was important to explicitly state that some of the optional colors I use are NOT certified as being skin/body safe (most notably, the glow powders). For more info on the specific colors I use, please see the below info. 

Does ‘natural’ or ‘organic’ mean a product is Non-Toxic?

Short story – no. I don’t claim any of my stuff is either, so I won’t go into it in detail. But suffice it to say that there’s plenty of plants that will kill you if you eat them, so just because something comes from nature, doesn’t mean it can’t be bad for you…

Types of Colorants

Powdered Coloring

Powdered color additives are just that – colored powder. They don’t dissolve when added into silicone, but they float in suspension and disperse to give a uniform color. On occasion, the grains of powder may be large or heavy enough that they may have a tendency to sink to the bottom of a mixture (much like sand will sink in water). Because silicone is very viscous (thick) this generally isn’t an issue, especially with the mica powders (described below) I normally use to color things.

Think of the powdered colors like chocolate chips in a cookie or muffin – they don’t dissolve when you add them into the batter. If they are particularly large/heavy compared to the mixture they’re suspended in, they may sink ot the bottom of whatever you’re making.

Liquid Coloring

For the purposes of simplicity – liquid colors are those that will dissolve or disperse into the silicone as it’s mixed. Often times, these colors are made with the same base materials as the silicone itself. Unlike powdered pigments, these don’t settle as they effectively become part of the final mixture. 

Instead of chocolate chips, think of pouring liquid chocolate into cookie batter – if you actually stir it in and don’t just pour a massive blob of chocolate on top, it will be part of the overall mixture and won’t be distinguishable from the batter.

Different Levels of Safe

There’s a whole host of of different ways to classify the safety of particular materials, and not just for toys – for EVERYTHING!!! I wanted to briefly touch on these so everyone is on the same page about what they’re buying since the stuff you’re purchasing from this shop is probably going to be used internally and have contact with mucus membranes (which sounds really sexy when I word it like that…).

So, in rough order of least-safe to most safe, here we go!

Toxic

Something that is known to cause health issues in one form or another.

I will NEVER use something that is known to be toxic in a toy. Ever.

Non-Toxic usually means that contact with the product won’t cause any serious health issues, especially long-term ones. To be considered non-toxic, a product’s ingredients must meet certain specifications set in place by the government about what materials can and can’t be included and levels of harmfull materials. A non-toxic product could still contain harmfull components, just at levels so low that it shouldn’t cause any adverse health effects.

They may also cause short term issues if they’re handled incorrectly. As an example – baking flour is non-toxic, but you wouldn’t want to snort it into your nose or dump it in your eye, because that would cause some pretty severe irritation… It’s usually the same for non-toxic products.

There are different levels of non-toxicity (is that a word?) which I’ll get into next!

Cosmetic grade products are generally certified to be in contact with the skin for extended periods of time without causing harm.

Sometimes, they may be flagged as a potential skin irritant if the size of pigment particles is particularly large, but it’s still considered safe for standard cosmetic use.

But wait. There’s more!!!

Certified for the Lip & Eye Areas

Certified for the Lip & Eye Areas

Not all cosmetic-grade colors are suited for use around the eyes and lips. Why is this important for toys? Because the eyes are a mucus membrane and the lips are the gateway to accidently licking and eating stuff!

Because toys come into contact with mucus membranes, if something isn’t certified for being eye-safe, I won’t personally use it in my toys. Same with being certified lip-safe – if you can’t accidently eat a bit of the stuff, I won’t put it in my toys.

Please note: Not every color I used is rated on a scale for cosmetics, because not all the colors I use are used for cosmetics, so this section mostly applies to mica powders and other powdered pigments.

As an unrelated tidbit – I read somewhere that if you wear makeup most days for most of your life, you probably eat about 9 lbs of the stuff. I didn’t fact check that, I just thought it was interesting.

Indicates that a material has been approved for prolonged contact with human skin and isn’t an irritant. 

This is the case for the silicone I use, as well as some of the liquid pigments I have on hand. 

You can eat the stuff. Literally.

Edible products have more stringent requirements to be classified as safe to ingest compared to products that aren’t meant to eat, but it’s also different requirements than cosmetic grade and isn’t necessarily directly related to how toys are used. 

Why is this relevant?

It’s not really anymore. There used to be one or two edible pigments I used, but I’ve since found other alternatives that work a bit better. 

Disclaimer: just because there are edible pigments in a toy, doesn’t mean you should ingest the toys… Anyway…

Food Grade vs. Food Safe vs. Edible

Edible means it’s safe to consume or run through the human body. There are certain edible glitters that exist which are basically just really tiny bits of plastic that don’t cause harm as they pass through the body.

Food Grade & Food Safe is generally used to indicate that something is safe to come into contact with food (like food-grade plastics) during normal handling etc. Some of the silicone I use (the extra firm, 18A stuff) is certified as food safe, so it can be used to make chocolate molds and the like, but you wouldn’t eat the mold itself…

Basically the gold-standard in body-safety. It’s also generally extremely expensive and hard to source for the average person. If it’s medical grade, it’s definitely safe for a toy. 

Types of Colors / Pigments

Solid Color Pigments

I have a handful of liquid silicone pigments from Smooth-On (Sil-Pig), that I often use to color silicone if I don’t want a shiny effect or if I want to maintain a certain level of transparency in the final silicone color.

It’s also not unusual for me to use these in conjunction with powdered pigments to enhance their look/color. As an example, I often mix yellow Sil-Pig into pastel-yellow mica powder to achieve a brighter metallic yellow.

There are both liquid and powdered versions of UV reactive pigments available. I’ve opted to stock the liquid version (also sil pig) because it’s certified skin safe and 900x easier to work with.

There are two types of glitter – the traditional plastic kind & larger mica powders that mimic the look of traditional glitter.

Where possible, I prefer the larger mica powders because they’re more environmentally friendly and will bio-degrade, but they also don’t run the risk of slowly working themselves out of the silicone over time.

Plastic glitter, as mentioned can slowly tear it’s way out of the toy with use as it rubs against the silicone and little by little slices through it. For plastic glitter ‘microfine’ is the standard most people consider as being safer for use in dildos. These are just very small particles that are less abrasive on the inside of the toy and will slow the degradation.

How I differentiate them in my shop:

I don’t use plastic glitter at all. Things with larger micas I don’t normally label overtly, but if I do it *might* be under the ‘sporkle’ or ‘shimmer’ tag (but also the larger flakes will often stand out when viewing product photos).

Mica powders and other colored pigments are commonly used in cosmetics (eyeshadows, lipsticks, etc). There are different grades of these substances ranging from non-toxic to medical grade. Most toy makers consider cosmetic grade to be the baseline for safe to use in their toys. All micas used in my toys are at least cosmetic grade and safe for use around the lips and eyes, and some may even be food-grade (I have a lot of luster dust left over from my days as a cake decorator).

There are natural & synthetic versions of mica powders. I haven’t found any real difference between the two in terms of safety (or usage for that matter).

Mica vs. Pigment

‘Mica’ is a silicate mineral that has a sheen to it – when I was young, I used to find quarter sizes pieces of the stuff all over the playground at school. On it’s own, it has no real color and is just used to make things shiny.

‘Pigment’ is something used to change the color of another substance.

All micas are pigments, but not all pigments are micas. Pigments tend to be matte colors and I don’t work with many of them for dildos because they tend to be clumpier than I normally want to deal with (they are great for making cheap acrylic paints more opaque though)

Ethically Sourced

There is a big issue in the mica industry where child labor is used to mine the minerals used for mica powders and other pigments. With the exception of powders I already have (the food grade ones for cakes, for example), I will only buy powders and pigments that have been ethically sourced and adhere to safe and fair working conditions for the miners/producers.

There are multiple types of glow powder – the only ones FDA approved for use in cosmetics are zinc sulfide based, and it’s generally recommended only for occasional use and to avoid getting it around the eyes and lips. It also doesn’t glow as brightly as some more commonly available powders. There are reports of this glow powder causing cure inhibition in silicone, and despite not having had that issue personally, I’ve chosen not to use this type of glow powder in my toys to avoid any possible issues.

Another type of commonly available glow powder is strontium aluminate based. This isn’t approved by the FDA for use in cosmetics, but is generally classified as non toxic. These typically glow significantly brighter than the zinc sulfide based powders.

Glow powders in general are considered to be a low level respiratory/eye irritant and may causes light skin irritation. The respiratory/eye irritation really only applies to working with the raw powder – once it’s incased in silicone, it’s impossible to inhale or get in the eyes and skin contact is neglicible because of the silicone encasing the powder.

Many makers (myself included) use encapsulated glow powder, which means the glow powder is coated/encased in another neutral substance. This provides 2 levels of protection from coming into contact with the glow powders : the silicone coating the glow powder itself, and the encapsulent incase the glow somehow comes out of the silicone.

If you have concerns about potential reactions to the powder in silicone, I recommed ordering a small sample of silicone with glow powder in it before purchasing a full sized toy with it, or simply avoiding glowing toys entirely.

Depending on the size of glow powder used and the softness of the silicone, glow powder may ‘rub out’ of the toy with frequent or rough handling. This is more common in softer silicones and isn’t something I’ve personally experienced, but I have seen anecdotal evidence of it through social media.