Choosing a Silicone Firmness
What is silicone firmness?
Silicone firmness (also called density) is a measure of how hard it is to squish or bend the toy that it's made of. A firmer silicone feels harder and more unyielding, and a softer one feels squishable, bendable, and more plush. ThemFriends offers four different firmness options on the majority of our toys, for a fully custom experience.
The thicker a toy is, the harder it is to squish and bend it, no matter how firm or soft the silicone is. For example, a one inch thick toy made of Firm silicone can be bent quite a lot, but a two inch toy made of the same silicone will be very difficult to bend.
A one inch thick toy made of Extra Soft silicone is so floppy that it can't stand up on its base, but a two inch thick toy made of extra soft can easily stand on its own.
For this reason, all of our toys one inch thick or less have to be made of Firm silicone, otherwise they wouldn't be usable. However, even a really thick toy will feel much squishier in an Extra Soft than in a Firm.
What do the different options feel like?
While it can be difficult to describe the feel of silicone, if you have used mainstream non-jelly toys before, you probably know what a Firm or Medium toy feels like. Jelly toys tend to feel more like Soft or Extra Soft toys (except they're toxic!)
The images below show the four options being squeezed with equal, fairly hard pressure, so you can see how much they indent.
Firm (Shore A20)
Firm silicone only gives a little bit when you squish it. Thinner (one inch diameter) toys can be bent double, and thicker (two inch diameter and up) toys can't be. Firm silicone provides more intense, targeted pressure, and you can feel the bumps on a toy very easily.
Medium (Shore A10)
Medium silicone behaves like Firm, but it's a little gentler. It is easier to squish than Firm. It can be bent at any thickness, but toys two inches and more will be noticeably less bendy. It can provide targeted pressure, and you can feel the bumps on it well, but it is a more cushioned feeling.
Soft (Shore 00-50)
Soft silicone feels decidedly squishy but still springy. Fingers can make fairly deep indents into the toy when squishing it, sort of like a stress ball, or slightly firmer than the end of your nose. At two inches thick and more, the toy can still feel fairly firm, but very forgiving. Thinner toys will feel quite soft with muted bumps. All single density toys in this firmness have bases poured in Firm since the base is too bendable in Soft to work well in a harness or to be anal safe.
Extra Soft (Shore 00-30)
Extra soft silicone feels almost gel-like, similar to jelly rubber/TPR toys but without the toxicity and smell. Even thick toys can be squeezed so easily it feels like your fingers could almost meet in the middle. With Extra Soft toys you generally feel more generalized volume than pinpointed sensation. As with single density Soft toys, the base of these are always poured in Firm for useability.
What is Dual Density?
Dual density toys combine the best qualities of softer and firmer silicone. They have a long, thin core that goes about 90% of the way to the tip of the toy, cast in Firm silicone and attached to a Firm base. The main body of the toy that surrounds that core is cast in Soft or Extra Soft silicone. The firm core provides support, and the soft outer provides plushness. We have chosen to design a thinner core than most other available dual density toys, to emphasize that plush experience.
How do I choose?
If you are newer to choosing a sex toy, Medium would be a recommended firmness to start. This is a forgiving silicone with a fairly predictable experience in any thickness. If you know what diameter toy you usually like, getting it in Medium should give you the experience you expect.
If you tend to like glass and metal toys, or like intense targeted sensation, Firm might be a good choice for you. If you are looking to buy a toy that's thicker than what you currently use, it would be recommended only to go up a quarter of an inch if you are buying in firm. Thicker toys in Firm can provide an intense stretching sensation.
If you are looking for a toy that provides fullness while minimizing the stretch on insertion, a thicker Soft or Extra Soft toy would be a good choice. This is also a good choice for people who want to size up more than a quarter inch in thickness from their current collection and want a more forgiving experience.
If you need a toy that will help you avoid pain on penetration, Soft and Extra Soft are excellent choices, or try a thinner toy like the XS through XXXS Sidekick.
And if you simply can't decide, reach out to us by email or on Twitter! We would be happy to help guide you.
Bonus: How is firmness measured?
The firmness of silicone is measured scientifically on the Shore scale. Softer silicones are labeled with an "OO-" prefix and firmer silicones are labeled with an "A" prefix. The OO and A scales overlap a bit. Although the Soft and Medium firmnesses appear quite close to each other in this diagram, it is our opinion that they feel very different to the human body. The Soft behaves more like the Extra Soft, and the Medium behaves more like the Firm.