Product Review: A Poundland Sex Toy Selection

BOO! It’s Halloween! What better time to test some of the high street horrors out there?

Okay, maybe that sounds harsh, but you can hardly blame me for keeping my standards dismally low.

A few days ago I bit the bullet and purchased the bullet over at Poundland, along with a few of their other budget options. Now I’m going to review them. That’s right—your treat this year is a trick on myself.

I hope you appreciate the things I do for you. ;)

About Poundland

To add some context for my US reviewers Poundland is a retail chain in the UK where everything sells for £1 (well…almost everything). This includes foods, toiletries, DVDs, kitchen supplies, stationary, gardening equipment, and, yes, even sex toys.

A wild Poundland in its natural environment (Image courtesy of Mikey via Flickr).
A wild Poundland in its natural environment (Image courtesy of Mikey via Flickr).

The Poundland Sex Toy Selection has become somewhat of a little joke in the UK—something we all chuckle about, and we go to Poundland to confirm that, yes—there are in fact sex toys that you can buy for £1—but very few people actually buy them. At least that’s my honest hope.

Now, before you get the wrong idea let me say that I adore any outlet that allows people access to sex toys and adult products, even when struggling with a budget. Times are hard in the UK and we’re all feeling the pinch, but you should never compromise your personal safety or sexual well-being and confidence for the sake of a bargain. If a sex toy affects your mental or physical health then it is never worth the cost (no matter how cheap).

There are a lot of good deals at Poundland. Are these among them?
There are a lot of good deals at Poundland. Are these among them?

I mention this because Poundland does have some sincerely good deals. There are Durex Condoms available for a very reasonable price, and even some of the lesser known brands aren’t terrible (as you’ll find out below). But, let’s face it, sometimes you do get what you’re paying for and I’d be remiss if I acted like these adult products were anywhere near up to par.

So let’s get to it shall we!

Sure Ribbed Condoms

I’m a sucker for condoms (figuratively and literally depending on if there’s flavoured lube involved or not) so seeing a pack of 12 ribbed sensation condoms available for £1 makes me very, very happy.

Granted, you can get free condoms in the UK if you go to the right places, but if you need condoms in a pinch and you’re on a tight budget then you can do a lot worse than these condoms.

These condoms get the job done and are as cheap as chips. It's enough to put a grin on even Del Boy's face.
These condoms get the job done and are as cheap as chips. It’s enough to put a grin on even Del Boy’s face.

The Sure Ribbed Condoms come with a ribbed texture which is intended to add additional sensation during sex but, to be completely honest with you, this texture is so incredibly mild that it is barely noticeable.

In fact I didn’t tell Mr. Peaches that this condom even had texture and asked him what he thought of the condom afterwards. He asked if there was anything he should have noticed because, to him, it just felt like a normal condom.

The texture of these condoms is barely noticeable.
The texture of these condoms is barely noticeable.

To me this is actually a relief, because it makes these condoms an easily accessible option for anyone who wants cheap condoms, including those who dislike prominent texture, but it may disappoint you if you want a truly textured experience.

In terms of performance these condoms were actually rather nice. Pretty standard. Maybe a little bit thicker than the ultra-thin condoms that we’re used to but not to the point where it detracted from either of our enjoyment. In fact I would gladly buy these condoms again if need be.

Okay, I wouldn’t go out of my way to buy these condoms specifically (unlike Skyn Elite Condoms, which I consider to me near and dear to me) but when the difference between one pack and the other is £6-8 and 2 condoms then, yeah, I think these condoms offer a really good deal.

Congrats, Poundland! You’re doing accessible condoms right.

Healthpoint 2 in 1 Massage & Lubricating Gel

This is where things start going downhill a bit (but only a little bit).

The Healthpoint 2 in 1 Massage & Lubricating Gel comes in a 100ml bottle with an easy-to-use cap and nice packaging.

This product looks nice...but that just annoys me even more.
This product looks nice…but that just annoys me even more.

It claims to be condom friendly, latex compatible, non staining, and non sticky. It is not non sticky.

In fact this lubricant is incredibly thick and goopy. Definitely in the ‘gel’ category when it comes to water based lubes.

This lubricant claims to double as a massage gel but I would personally never use it as such. It’s simply too thick and too gelatinous to provide that silky smooth slickness that you want from a pampering massage.

This lubricant does have a nicely fresh and hydrating sensation to it when spread against the skin, but this is much better suited for its role as a lubricant than as a massager.

This lubricant is very gel/jelly-like and leaves a sticky residue after use.
This lubricant is very gel/jelly-like and leaves a sticky residue after use.

Going for the nourishing angle, this lubricant is infused with Aloe Vera and Vitamin E. Both of these ingredients are very good for keeping the skin protected and soothing it if sore. This is especially good when combined with the fact that this lubricant is so thick—allowing it to provide a long-lasting buffer against powerful vibrators, firm or thick dildos, and vigorous sex sessions.

This lubricant does have a slight taste to it but it’s actually not that metallic or unpleasant. It’s actually rather sweet and mild, making it suitable for oral sex (though it’s not made specifically for this purpose.

When I applied this lubricant I didn’t experience any stinging or discomfort, and after use this lubricant did wipe off easily enough but it did leave a sticky, almost sugary residue. I also found that my vulva felt itchy and uncomfortable for the rest of the day and a small stinging sensation slowly developed around my urethral opening. Not good signs.

This could be due to the ingredients in the Healthpoint 2 in 1 Massage & Lubricating Gel.

Although this lubricant is presenting itself as a body friendly product its ingredients tell a different story:

Aqua, Glycerin, Mono Propylene Glycol, Hydroxyl Ethyl Cellulose, Citric Acid, Vitamin E, Aloe Vera, Methyl Paraben, Propyl Paraben.

Wowsa! Look at all of those parabens!

For those who aren’t in the know parabens are considered to be a big fat avoid-at-all-costs when it comes to lubricant.

The potential risks of parabens are still being figured out, but they have been potentially linked to breast and testicular cancer, a reduced sperm count, skin aging, and an allergic response.

I think we can all agree that these are good to avoid, right? Better safe than sorry.

Overall this massage gel and lubricant doesn’t really deliver well enough in either regard to justify the potential risks and reactions that it may cause. It’s good in the moment for sex but sticky afterwards and the ingredients are a real horror story.

Just because you add Aloe Vera to an ingredients doesn’t mean you’ve covered up all of the nasty ingredients that go along with it, and shame on you Healthpoint for trying to present your product as body safe when it’s dubious at best.

Sensual Lubricating Jelly

At least this lubricant doesn’t try to pass itself off as being a nourishing option for the skin…and that’s probably the best thing I can say about it.

At least this lubricant doesn't try to flaunt the 'good for your skin' angle.
At least this lubricant doesn’t try to flaunt the ‘good for your skin’ angle.

The Sensual Lubricating Jelly has a very similar consistency to KY Jelly (yet another questionable lubricant which is best avoided) and is condom safe and water-based. Water-based lubricants can also be used with pretty much any sex toy, and the Sensual Lubricating Jelly at least provides a nice layer of lubrication for use with sex toys.

It’s not as thick as the Healthpoint 2 in 1 Massage & Lubricating Gel but neither is it as sticky, so the trade-off is partially worth it. On the other hand it’s also omitted the Aloe Vera and Vitamin E, going for a more bare-bones approach.

Though this is still debatable.
Though this is still debatable.

Ironically this lubricant actually has less ingredients and less paraben-based ingredients than the Healthpoint 2 in 1 Massage & Lubricating Gel, with its ingredients as follows:

Cellulose Gum, Citric Acid, Methylparaben, Natural Glycerin, Propylparaben, Water.

This lubricant is odourless and has a very slight chemical tang to it but is mostly sweet and mild (again, making it suitable for oral). It spreads fairly well on the skin and lasts for a reasonable amount of time.

This lubricant looks goopier than the other offering but is actually a bit thinner.
This lubricant looks goopier than the other offering but is actually a bit thinner.

But, despite not being as sticky as the Healthpoint 2 in 1 Massage & Lubricating Gel, it does still dry semi-sticky and clings uncomfortably to the skin. It was another lubricant which made my vulva itch and I wouldn’t want to revisit it any time soon, especially considering the inclusion of parabens.

And one point in favour of the Sensual Lubricating Jelly I can at least say that its tube-like container makes it feel more medical—which may appeal to those who want a more medical-esque lubricant (either out of personal preference or a medical kink)—but there are better lubricants that can provide a similar aesthetic.

Please don’t get this lubricant. Avoid parabens where you can. I care about you and don’t want you putting this stuff on your body. Stay safe.

Update: Aaaand confirmed for UTI. As these lubricants were the only dubious item I was testing at the time my money is on them being the culprits. Fantastic.

The Playful Vibrating Bullet

This was the product I was dreading the most and is perhaps the most infamous of the Poundland line.

And, I have to say, at first this bullet gave me a Buffy the Vampire Slayer moment. least it's wrapped well enough...
Well…at least it’s wrapped well enough…

If you’ve never seen Buffy the Vampire Slayer before there’s this one episode where a demon is summoned at Halloween and it starts fucking with people big time: Bringing their worst fears to life, promising eternal chaos and suffering on earth, building up tension for pretty much the entire episode. And then, when they finally confront the demon, it turns out that it’s this teeny-tiny, squeaky, piddly, little thing that is easily squashed under heel.

This was my exact experience with the Playful Vibrating Bullet.

I had expected this bullet to be the embodiment of everything wrong with the sex toy industry. I mean it’s pink, comes in love-heart packaging, and is about as bog-standard in terms of design as you could get. I expected its vibrations to be high pitched and irritating. To numb my clit. To assault my body with its awfulness. It didn’t even come with a battery included!!!

But then I turned this vibrator on. And I was massively overwhelmed in more ways than one.

My feelings exactly, Xander.
My feelings exactly, Xander.

This vibrator is buzzy but it’s not the mosquito hum buzzy that has most sex educators grating their teeth in anger. Neither is it numbing at all. In fact it’s so incredibly tame that I can legitimately get stronger vibrations from my phone.

As I lay there with this non-porous, and phthalate piece of plastic quivering against my vulva I just felt so indifferent to it. Like it was something I could easily squash but that was too lackluster to even bother with.

Then I remembered that for a lot of people this will be their first sex toy. Then I got mad.

Because, the truth is, this sex toy is everything that’s wrong with mainstream adult products. It’s the literal embodiment of “Oh…is that it?”—that disappointing experience that makes people think that sex toys aren’t worth the hype or that their body is flawed because they haven’t had an amazing reaction to something with less intensity then a shower head on mid-pressure. And sexologist Goedele Liekens has gone on national television telling the British people that this horrendously weak vibrator “is no different to something that you would pay about a hundred pounds for.” I weep in despair and scream in rage at this particular fact.

The more I think about this lubricant the more insulted I become.
The more I think about this sex toy the more insulted I become.

The reality is that the Playful Vibrating Bullet isn’t even worth a £1 because the damage it can cause to people’s expectations and long-term sexual pleasure are far-reaching and pervasive. It’s a deterrent— a complete disconnect—and it presents itself as the sex toy standard  on national frikkin television when I know for a fact that better sex toys do exist (even on a budget).

I think of a young couple getting this sex toy—their first sex toy—and I get royally pissed off. It’s the sex toy equivalent of those cheap Disney or Dreamworks knock offs in the DVD section of the Poundland and is equally bland, deceptive, and passively detrimental to anyone who decided to give it a go.

If you’re considering buying the Playful Vibrating Bullet, even for a joke, then please do reconsider. These aren’t the type of toys that we should be encouraging and it’s definitely not the type of toy that you deserve.

Our bodies are amazing pleasure devices, and when companies produce toys like this they insult our potential for pleasure and give the big middle-finger to us by proxy. This bullet really is a true disaster and, like a rotting corpse, should be condemned on sight.

And That’s All For Now!

As you can see the Poundland Sex Toy Selection is a bit of a mixed bag, though most of the products fell dismally short in one way or another.

In fact the only product I can really recommend are the condoms, which are at least of a standard quality. The other products may masquerade as a cheeky treat but believe me when I say that this is a trick and that you money is better spent on some of the other £1 offers at Poundland instead.

  • Boooooooo lube!! Glycerin, propylene glycol, AND eight thousand parabens. I expected as much from Poundland, but this crap shouldn’t be the most readily available lube we can get.
    I’m glad to see this. I’d been seeing so many articles on the Poundland toys and it’s good someone took a stab at it. I was curious, and people should know, with the media surely drawing so many people to rush and buy them. If only the people who were buying these cheap products were the type to do any research beforehand. One day, we can hope.

    • Well hopefully this’ll come up in a Google search alongside some of the more irksome publications *fingers crossed*

  • Hilrunner55

    Ahahaha, cheap sex toys! I loved your take on them, though I think you should rest easy knowing that the crushed expectations of most innocent first-timers are probably less scary than you think.

    As someone who nearly became that person you’re imagining, you could say my less-than-stellar experience with a cheap, buzzy, hard plastic toy designed primarily for anal didn’t exactly help–but at the end of the day I wasn’t being a smart shopper (or even mastrubating correctly) for much deeper reasons that needed to be fixed first anyway.

    For so many of us it’s the discomfort surrounding even a simple Google search about sex that’s the real culprit…I mean, we live in a world where quality information to put the marketing in perspective is accessible to most of us on our handheld devices 24/7 and awesome sex-positive blogs like yours break this stuff down almost to a science!

    It could be overly-optimistic for me to assume our society has reached a level where enough people have bothered to educate themselves on sex toys to compensate for most uninformed people. But I don’t think we’re far from a point where buyers will know to react to that cheap sex toy the same they would to a cheap toaster that didn’t really work. Unless you’ve got a weird bias, it should be difficult to convince yourself the technology isn’t available for anyone who cares enough to look for it pay a fair price.

    It’s still good food for thought and I really enjoyed reading your perspective on it. Thanks for another great post!

    • Thank you for such a thoughtful and well-considered post (and for taking the time to write it!)

      I want to address the idea of sex toy materials, user knowledge, and whether or not we really are ‘past’ these type of sex toys in a separate article so I’ll have to table a full reply for now.

      That being said I urge you to click on the link I gave for the bullet vibe, then look at the amount of reviews it got as well as its rating.