The ‘rose’ is sweeping TikTok, but the viral sex toy is kind of sketchy

May is National Masturbation Month, and we’re celebrating with Feeling Yourself, a series exploring the finer points of self-pleasure.


A suction toy is sweeping TikTok thanks to a series of user reviews praising it as the holy grail of sex toys, but its questionable manufacturing may make it unsafe to use on delicate body parts.

Known as the « rose toy, » this rechargeable floret has TikTok users obsessed. Viral reviews on the video app can do more for product sales than any traditional advertisement. From butt-lifting leggings to « magic » cleaning products, TikTok has an unparalleled ability to market products solely based on user reviews. Sex toys are no exception.

One reviewer claimed that they broke up with their partner after purchasing the toy. Another joked that she would consult her rose toy before considering another relationship. In a glowing review that now has 1.3 million views, TikTok user _queenk_95 said the toy’s suction was so powerful, it brought her to an orgasm before she could find a video to masturbate to.

« This lil heifer right here didn’t even give me a chance to find a video, » she gushed. « Before she hit the Spongebob tongue twirl on me! It took me 30 seconds. »

TikTok is obsessed with this clit sucker, but is it safe?

TikTok is obsessed with this clit sucker, but is it safe?

Credit: tiktok / og_priscilaz

TikTok is obsessed with this toy, but is it safe?

TikTok is obsessed with this toy, but is it safe?

Credit: tiktok / _queenk_95

Not everyone is as dazzled by the rose toy, however. Some users complain that it took too long for delivery, that it’s too loud or stopped charging, or that it isn’t as precise or as powerful as reviewers claimed it was. TikTok user Jayy.llinn, who made a viral video expressing her disappointment, said the toy « just wasn’t all that. » Still, it has developed such a cult following that others insisted she was either using it wrong or that she was too desensitized for it to work.

The difficulty of knowing what’s actually in your rose toy

The toy is wildly popular — the tag #rosetoy and #rosetoyreview have 45.9 million views and 13.1 million views respectively — but it isn’t manufactured by a single brand or wellness company.

Instead, people are purchasing the toy from dropshippers, who buy products wholesale directly from the supplier and then sell them at a profit from online storefronts, like Shopify and Amazon, without actually handling the merchandise themselves. Dropshipping is often thought of as a get-rich-quick scheme; once the customer purchases the item from the seller, it is shipped by a third party directly from the supplier to the buyer. The dropshippers, as Vice explains, are just « middlemen making the profit » — they don’t deal with the overhead costs of a traditional online storefront. A brick-and-mortar store, on the other hand, can only sell what it stocks.

Dropshipping can be incredibly lucrative and usually poses little risk to the consumer aside from long wait times, since suppliers are often based in China, and perhaps wasting money on a cheaply made product. A dropshipper can buy coveted leggings with pockets at a wholesale cost of $10 per piece, for example, and then sell it on Amazon or Shopify for $50.

Prices for the rose toy vary. One Amazon seller lists the toy for $18.49 with a nearly month-long delivery window. Another lists it for $49.99 with Prime delivery. Boutique sellers advertising their online stores on TikTok also list the toy for a range of prices: BareVixen sells it for $35.99, The Kinky Florist sells it for a flat $50, and The LV Rose sells it for $56.

These toys are often dropshipped.

These toys are often dropshipped.
Credit: amazon

The wholesale platforms AliExpress and Alibaba, meanwhile, sell the toy from roughly $8 to $24 per piece, depending on how many you buy. Alibaba lists the toy for roughly $12 per piece, with a minimum of five per order.

It’s important to steer clear of unsafe sex toy materials

Dropshipping itself is not harmful. But buying dropshipped sex toys can be problematic when consumers have no idea what these toys are made of.

The rose toy is the latest dropshipping fad.

The rose toy is the latest dropshipping fad.
Credit: aliexpress

Some listings state the toys are « medical grade silicone. » In the United States, products can only qualify as « medical grade » if they’ve been tested by the FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health. « Medical grade silicone » products include menstrual cups and breast implants. But that qualifier is arbitrary when it comes to sex toys, since the FDA doesn’t oversee them.

The sex toy industry as a whole is largely unregulated in the United States, which is alarming considering the potential side effects from exposing your most sensitive parts to toxic materials. At best, this means consumers may be getting ripped off. At worst, the toys they’re putting on or in their body can leech chemicals. While plastic water bottles are now BPA-free and the beauty industry is pushing against parabens, the sex toy market remains rife with questionable manufacturing practices.

Some higher-end brands like Dame get around this by directly sourcing silicone from medical suppliers that have passed the FDA’s testing, whereas international brands like Lelo and We-Vibe both boast compliance with the EU’s Restriction of Hazardous Substances Directive (RoHS).

A safe toy has two qualities: it’s non-porous, so it can be thoroughly cleaned and won’t harbor bacteria, viruses, or fungi, and it’s inert, which means it’s chemically non-reactive and won’t change over time. An unstable silicone toy, for example, can cause irritation and infection if it reacts to skin or mucosal tissues. As the sex and wellness brand Dame noted in a blog post about safe sex toys, nothing is truly inert except certain gasses, but the « medical grade » establishes a standard of inertness that ensures it’s safer to use.

Toy users should also steer clear of « jelly » products, which use cheap rubber to achieve a soft, gummy texture, because they’re usually porous and not chemically stable. PVC is also a questionable toy material since manufacturers have to add a plasticizer, a compound that makes an otherwise hard material more malleable.

Until recently, most PVC toys were softened using phthalates, which are now known as endocrine disruptors. Studies have linked phthalates to irregular fetal development, early-onset puberty, lower sperm counts, and impaired liver function. Amanda Morgan, a professor at the University of Nevada’s School of Public Health, wrote her master’s thesis on toxic sex toys. She told Glamour that phthalates « can really mess you up because they pretend to be your hormones, so your body’s hormonal cycle gets knocked out of what from exposure to these things. »

Unfortunately buying sex toys isn’t as clear cut as avoiding one material and endorsing another.

Unfortunately buying sex toys isn’t as clear cut as avoiding one material and endorsing another. Even silicone toys can be unsafe. The material is expensive, so some manufacturers may mix it with additives. Pure silicone toys should feel silky to the touch — which is why it is such a popular alternative to body-safe ABS plastic — but like sex toy blog Dangerous Lily wrote in 2013, manufacturers won’t disclose if their products are actually a silicone blend.

On one hand, openly discussing and endorsing the rose toy on such a massive platform is a real step forward in destigmatizing sex toys and pleasure for people with clitorises. On the other, it’s perpetuating an unchecked and unsafe industry by directly supporting it.

All is not lost, though. Buying toys from reputable brands takes out most of the guesswork in determining safety. Traditional manufacturers depend on selling safe and effective products that satisfy customers, but dropshippers do not. Dropshipping is a grind, but it doesn’t depend on name recognition as much as traditional brands do. In 2015, Mashable wrote that dropshipping « pretty much runs itself. »

If you really want to try a good clit-sucker, there are plenty on the market from reputable brands. The Womanizer Liberty is known for its waterproof properties, which makes it a joy for the shower or bath. Dame’s Aer makes finding the right « seal » less clumsy thanks to its shape. And the Satisfyer Pro 2 is a cult favorite for those trying to orgasm on a budget, selling for just $50.

Buying sex toys from international dropshippers may seem appealing because of the low cost, but there are still a number of high-quality, affordable toys out there for climax hopefuls. It’s not worth risking the negative side effects of toxic materials just for an orgasm when other toys will get you there just as effectively and more safely. Plus, you won’t have to wait upwards of a month for delivery.

Related Video: 5 ways to safely clean your sex toys

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