tiny nibbles research labs: Lifestyles SKYN condoms

by Violet Blue on October 30, 2008

1023080001.jpg
An image live from the laboratory, via my Ocean.

A little while back I was contacted by a rep from Lifestyles condoms about their new non-latex condom, the SKYN. Always skeptical but ever on a quest to find non-latex solutions, I wrote them back and asked for a few samples. I know so many people with latex allergies, and almost weekly I get queries from readers about non-latex alternatives for condoms. Usually I suggest what everyone’s been offering as an alternate: polyurethane has been the most common non-latex condom material available to consumers. The excellent Durex Avanti has always been the answer of sex educators across the nation. It’s latex-rubber free and so as a sex toy material it can handle getting oil on it; latex-rubber (what most condoms are made of) deteriorates quickly when oil touches it, making it break pretty quickly. If you want to see how fast, watch my “Crisco is not lube” video for a pretty explosive demonstration. The drawback to polyurethane is that it isn’t as stretchy/flexible as latex so you’ll want to use plenty of water-based lube, and this makes polyurethane condoms an unfortunate “one size fits some” situation. If you’re bigger, smaller or not shaped like the condom, it can be uncomfortable, or not a solution, and I’ve heard from uncircumcised guys that they feel discomfort (feeling the inflexible “burn” if you will). I never recommend animal skin condoms because, ew, and they also do not adequately protect against virus transmission.

So last night I got my hands on a test bunny. Or, maybe he got his hands on me. But first, I did some solo research. The Lifestyles Skyns are made from polyisoprene. This is the latex-free pure form of rubber; however in this case, Lifestyles is making a synthetic version so no trees are harmed to make their condoms. Yay for the greening of weenies! But on a more serious note, or actually what turned out to be less serious but entertaining to my date nonetheless, I wanted to see how the Skyns stood up to oil.

My friend just happened to have a box of Lifestyles Ultrathins on hand; a great latex condom if ever there was one, it’s one of my faves because it’s *really* thin and clear, so I can see what I’m playing with if you get my meaning. I also really, really love the Pleasure Plus (great for uncircumcised guys) and my staple, the Crown Skinless Skin. I opened an Ultrathin, rolled it about two inches down my fingers, and put the open end in my mouth — and blew it up like a balloon. It had that yucky condom flavor we all know and love. I did the same thing with the Skyn. It did not have a yucky condom flavor at all. It didn’t taste yummy like dim sum or sexy boy toy, but it tasted a LOT better than the latex condom. After the latex, it almost even tasted kind of sweet.

I blew it up to a bit bigger than the Ultrathin. It was sturdy and flexible. Then I went in the pantry and came out with a bottle of corn oil. I put the Ultrathin under my arm, held it in place, and put oil on my fingers and rubbed. After a bit, it popped. Next I did the same thing with the Skyn. I rubbed. I squeezed it tighter, and rubbed. I added more oil. Finally, it popped.

Granted, these are far, far from clinical study conditions. But the difference was noticeable — though it does mean that even while the Skyn is non-latex, oil WILL break the condom. Play with caution, dear readers.

And in the field? My bunny was well behaved. I put one on him, and then the other. Conclusion? He said they felt about the same as each other; still thinner feeling than any other condom he’d tried. As for me, I thought the Skyn felt a lot smoother during skin to skin contact, and again, it sure tasted a lot better than the Ultrathin.

Frankly, I think Lifestyles has made a fucking amazing breakthrough for fucking. It’s the best non-latex alternative out there, and one of the best condoms on the market, period. Which means this is a great time for safer sex. Thank you, Lifestyles.

(I received nothing but a box of condoms from this company; I am not endorsed nor do I have any affiliation with Lifestyles Condoms, in any way. This is a loving PSA.)

Violet Blue

The London Times named Violet Blue "One of the 40 bloggers who really count" and Self Magazine named TinyNibbles one of the “Best Sex Resources for Women.” Blue is an autodidact and pundit on sex and technology, hacking and security, porn for women, privacy and bleeding-edge tech culture. She is a journalist for ZDNet, CBS News, CNET; she's an educator, speaker, crisis counselor, volunteer NGO trainer, and the author and editor of over 40 award-winning books.

More Posts - Website - Twitter - Facebook - Google Plus - Flickr - YouTube - Reddit

{ 7 comments }

1 Anna September 5, 2011 at 12:08 pm

Hi,
The Durex Avanti is also a polyisoprene condom, like the Lifestyles SKYN. I just wanted to mention that, since in the article they were brought up in the context of polyurethane. :)

I like that the Lifestyles SKYN comes in multiple sizes, the Durex Avanti does not. Personally my mate and I have had (multiple) incidences of “slippage” with the SKYN, so we stick with the Durex Avanti.

I have a latex allergy, but recommend these to my friends because of the tastelessness, who likes that nasty latex aftertaste? Thanks for mentioning that in your article!

Thanks!
-A

2 Elaina November 3, 2008 at 2:40 pm

After my Fiance read this article we decided to try. Right away we noticed that they felt smoother skin on skin, and quite thin. I loved how low odor they were.

Thank you so much! Great recommendation! Your site is amazing!

-Elaina-

3 Laura October 30, 2008 at 8:31 pm

Will vegetable glycerin affect the condom’s breakage?

Also, are there dental dams that you know of that are non-latex?

=)

Thanks for your awesome posts!

4 Premek October 30, 2008 at 7:40 pm

THANK YOU for this info … I have latex allergy and also need slightly larger-than-average size… It was really painful (literally) trying to find some good and useful condom … You know, the swelling on the hand (from the glove) is really inconvenient… In other regions, it reaches new and previously unknown levels of inconvenience… I ordered some pieces (unfortunately, international order) to test and if they prove to be like you said, I may just buy a ticket just to fly to SF and kiss the land (grass, concrete, whatever) near your front door :))

5 waraw October 30, 2008 at 6:27 pm

Every condom I’ve ever had break — four of ‘em, all Lifestyles.

6 Kathryn October 30, 2008 at 6:07 pm

Yay for alternatives! Great informative review. Your porn posts are the most fun but the educational stuff is important too. :)

7 @gcrush October 30, 2008 at 5:34 pm

Thank you!

I happen to be one of those allergic to latex girls, and I am excited that there is something out there like this.

my partner and I are very monogamous because of my allergy, and this just might give us an opportunity to explore more.

great post!

kisses
georgette

Comments on this entry are closed.

Previous post:

Next post: