Have you ever started placing a toy order, and when you got to the part asking which firmness you wanted, you just shrugged and picked one? Maybe someone told you to always choose soft for anal toys, or maybe you’ve heard that medium is always the way to go. More than likely, you’ve seen shore numbers at the bottom of a toy listing. But what does 30A really mean? Is one firmness better than the others?
Picking the firmness for your toys is one of the hardest parts about shopping for toys online. With no way to squish and squeeze the toy before you buy, how can you choose? I’ve learned a few tips and tricks through the years that might make the process a whole lot easier. First, a couple basics:
What is Shore Hardness?
Shore hardness is a scale that measures the resistance a material has to indentation (silicone sex toys are generally going to be on either the Shore 00 or Shore A scales). The tricky thing here is that there is no standardized number across the sex toy industry for “soft” or “firm.” This means that one toy maker’s “soft” could be another’s “extra soft”, or even medium! Many toy companies (especially ones on Etsy) are good about giving you a specific shore number. It’s common to see numbers like 30A for soft, and 50A for medium, but this isn’t always the case. Check for a shore number when you can, and if in doubt, don’t be afraid to ask the company.
What is Dual-Density?
Dual-density means that the toy has a very firm core of silicone inside, with a much softer layer of silicone on the outside. When you squeeze it, you can really feel that difference in density, and that contrast is exquisite. Dual-density toys are decadent and luxurious, and if you get the opportunity to buy your toy this way, don’t ever pass it up! You can thank me later :3
Unfortunately, there aren’t many fantasy toy companies that offer this option, but always check! Companies are always changing up their offerings, and this is especially true for the indie companies. Right now, the only fantasy company I know of that offers them is Qimera Forge (RIP Tails and Portholes! We miss you). If you’re going for a realistic dual-density toy, the Vixskin line from Vixen Creations is by far and away the best dual-density I have ever felt.
Firmness Facts & Myths
Myth #1: Anal toys need to be soft
Fact: All firmnesses can be great for anal toys
It sounds sensible, right? Softer toilet paper is better, so shouldn’t things you put in your anus be nice and cushy too? But wait…what about all the metal and glass plugs on the market! Those are way harder than silicone plugs, and people seem to love them! What is going on here?! The truth is that your anus can handle a wide variety of firmnesses, and you shouldn’t let this alone determine what you pick. In some cases, having the extra firmness will make the toy go in more easily (this is why I love glass plugs like the ones from Crystal Delights and Simply Elegant Glass). Have you ever tried putting in a dildo that was so loose and floppy that it just bent and mushed instead of going in? That is a toy that is too soft for its size..and we’ll get into that more later.
Myth #2: The more texture it has, the softer it should be
Fact: This one is partially true, but with a big exception
It is true that the firmer a toy is, the more you will feel the texture. Having tested toys that are highly textured and extra firm, I would recommend most people stick to medium and below for the super-duper textured stuff. This is something you may have to experiment a bit with to see what your body likes. However, just because your toy has a lot of texture, don’t make the mistake of choosing extra soft or soft as a rule! The real determining factor for that is SIZE.
Which firmness is better?
Which firmness is better? The answer is: it depends. It depends partially on texture and partly on SIZE. This is something it took me years to figure out. The lightbulb really clicked for me once I had the luxury of trying the same model of a toy out in several sizes and densities. Have you ever seen a toy that was just floppy and miserable to get in, or that was highly textured, but when you put it in, you barely felt anything at all? This is a hallmark trait of a toy that is way too soft for its size. Or, have you had the opposite experience: a humongous toy with lots of texture that was just so difficult to get in that you struggled, got discouraged and even felt a little sore? This likely is a toy that is too firm for its size.
Experiences like these led me to a little rule of thumb that I like to use:
Shore, Shore, What is it Good for?
When I first started buying toys, I always went for medium firmness on everything. This mostly worked out ok for me. I soon learned though that my body LOVED texture, and as I chose the harder shores of silicone, I realized I could feel that texture better. After having tried one of a friend’s small toys in a floppy, sloppy soft shore, I was entirely convinced that soft was nearly useless (except for the outside layer of dual density toys). That softness mushed down the texture-y goodness of the design and I was SO disappointed. What should have been a very good shape and design for my body was just…blah. After a couple of experiences like that I started avoiding soft toys entirely UNTIL I tried a soft toy that was on the larger end of my size preference (a friend’s medium Chance, which is about 1.9″) and it COMPLETELY changed everything. That softness kind of squished down as it went in and then popped out to fullness inside, and it felt incredible.
If you think you don’t like big toys, you may just have been playing with ones that are too hard for their size for you. This is what happened to me. I avoided toys over 2″ diameter because they were just too uncomfortable. But this was because I made the mistake of trying them in the same firmnesses I liked in my smaller toys. After having tried some bigger ones in a soft shore, I realized that I LOVED them.
When I’m shopping for toys these days, this is what I personally look for:
Soft/Extra-soft: Bigger, girthier, longer toys. For me, this is usually 2″ in diameter and up
Medium: Good for most toys and textures in the 1.5″ – 1.9″ diameter range
Firm: toys under 1.5″, toys with a smoother texture
Extra firm, glass & metal: G-spot & P-spot toys are best with the most weight and firmness (there’s a reason the Pure Wand is legendary!). completely smooth plugs and toys, and toys 1.3″ and under of any texture
All of that being said, it’s wise to keep a few things in mind. Everyone’s body is a little different, and if you take big toys easily, you might absolutely love them in a harder firmness. The sizes and firmnesses I give above are not a 100% hard-and-fast-rule for everyone on the planet, it’s just a sensible place to get you started. The most important thing is to listen to your own body, and follow that as your guide. Have fun, and happy shopping!