Tags: picture post, reviews, sex education
(Not into product reviews? I’m still in warm-up mode after having been out of practice with blogging for awhile. Stick around for the social-political-feminist-disability-sexual stuff down the line.)
I thoroughly enjoy a relaxing, firm massage. Unfortunately, such massages are a luxury I rarely get to indulge in. A professional massage can easily cost over $100, and a full-body massage at home with my partner still requires some up-front costs in the form of supplies – not to mention the amount of time required to give a satisfying massage. And there are a lot of spa and body supplies out there, all tempting me with pretty packaging and promises of pleasure. Which ones should I go for?
Awhile back, on a whim, I bought a Jimmyjane Afterglow massage candle. I had tried a different brand of massage candle once before, and enjoyed the whole experience very much. But to avoid suspicion from people who are not me, I had to throw it out before I finished using it. I don’t need to worry about nosy people getting all up in my stuff anymore, so I picked up the Afterglow as a replacement. My only reason: “Because it was there.” I hadn’t actually done any research on the product first, but I figured since a reputable adult shop was selling it, I could probably rely on the staff to pick out something satisfactory to sell. I don’t generally recommend this strategy of impulse buying. In this case, however, my purchase worked out just fine.
What we’re looking at today is a cucumber-water scented massage candle:
[Description: A white, square candle holder with wax filling it about 3/4 of the way. The wick is unlit. There is a logo that says “JIMMYJANE” on the lower left side.]
Most of the ingredients in the candle are easy-to-pronounce and recognize – the first six components listed are soybean oil, shea butter, palmarosa oil, jojoba oil, aloe vera, and vitamin e. After that you get into the “What?” stuff & stabilizers – cis-3-hexaenyl acetate? Galaxolide 50 DEP? I don’t know what that is, but I know it’s not entirely all-natural. Furthermore, the instructions state that the massage oil is intended for external use only, so don’t smear the melted wax onto anyone’s genitals. You may even want to test patch a small area of your own and the recipient’s skin before going all-out with the melted wax, just to make sure no one is going to have an allergic reaction.
What it feels like: The melted wax is surprisingly slippery. It won’t feel like ordinary candle wax – when melted, I think it feels just as fluidy as liquid massage oil. When I use it on my partner, I can apply a lot of pressure to whatever I’m massaging and my hands still glide around without getting stuck. At some points I needed to wipe my hands off on a paper towel because they were getting too slippery and I was losing my grip.
The advantage of a massage oil candle is that when it is poured onto skin, the oil feels significantly warmer than room temperature. I tense up when I know my partner is about to pour oil onto my back. I can’t see when it’s about to land and I’m always afraid that it’s going to be too hot. However in practice, the temperature has been comfortable, and after awhile I realize I have nothing to be afraid of. So if you are interested in wax play, this candle might be a good option for beginners.
[Description: White, square candle holder from the side. From this angle the pouring spout is clearly visible, protruding from one corner. The “JIMMYJANE” logo is clearly visible.]
Whether or not you’re getting enough or too much slip from the oil to give a decent massage may be up to each individual couple or group. Communication between recipient and giver is important when engaged in massage. I thought my partner was being stingy with the oil initially, so I had to tell him to pour more on when I was on the receiving end. Once he did that, I felt much more comfortable and relaxed. On the other hand, I tend to pour it liberally because the slipperyness amuses me to no end.
[Description: White, square candle holder with lit wick. The melting wax inside looks yellow and reflects the candle flame.]
Using the Afterglow candle involves some time constraints, so using it will require some planning and an open schedule. Once you light the candle wick, it will take about 30 minutes for the wax to melt enough so to have something to work with. This is sufficient time for me to set the room up for a massage. Once you and the massage recipent are in place, you’re supposed to blow out the wick, for safety reasons. Then you can start using the melted wax.
[Description: White lady’s hand tilting the square candle holder at an angle. The yellow melted wax is a liquid flowing into one corner of its ceramic container.]
About 30 minutes after extinguishing the flame, the melted fluid starts to thicken. Shortly thereafter, (I would say somewhere between the 40-45 minute point) it will begin to congeal back into solid form. If you’re still working with the wax at this point, it’s still usable as a massage oil but it will begin to feel granulated. I squished it between my fingers to make it fluidy again for awhile longer.
[Description: White lady’s hand holding the candle at a different angle. The wick is out and blackened. Now the yellow wax is looking lumpy.]
After the candle has had sufficient time to cool down and return to a solid state, I store it inside of its original box. The packaging the Afterglow candle comes in noteworthy – a sturdy square box for a (mostly) square candle holder. When you open the box up, the inside top flap greets you with the written words “Melt me.” In addition to the 3 brief steps for use listed on the outside of the box “Light, pour, then massage into skin,” the candle comes with a detailed instruction book printed in several languages.
A couple of caveats to keep in mind when using the Afterglow candle:
The candle is designed to have its melted contents poured onto skin, so it has a low melting point. You are literally playing with warm-to-hot wax.
Friendly reminders: Be careful when playing with fire. Do not leave the candle burning unattended, do not place it on or near any flammable objects, and do not engage in wax play unless you are using a candle specifically designed for such an activity. What I mean by that is, if you try to use an ordinary $0.30 generic emergency candle on your partner’s skin, someone could wind up with 3rd degree burns. More information on safe wax play can be found via Go Ask Alice! for starters.
The scent from the cucumber-water candle is strong – to me the smell was pleasant, but it’s highly noticeable and long-lasting. I could still smell the scent of cucumber water lingering in whatever room the candle burned in, for 48-72 hours after extinguishing it. Since the smell is so potent, this may not be an appropriate product to use if you are sensitive to strong odors; for example, if someone in your household has multiple chemical sensitivity you may want use an unscented massage product instead.
The candle itself is somewhat heavy in the hand – after all, it’s made of densely packed wax and ceramic. It actually weighs in at a little under 5oz when new. The mass isn’t a problem for me, but if you experience tremors or have difficulty gripping objects, you may want an alternative. Some alternatives include: A massage candle with a lightweight brush to paint the melted wax/massage oil onto skin; a bottle of liquid massage oil; or a semi-solid massage bar that melts when exposed to heat.
Finally, one of the downsides of the Afterglow candle is the initial sticker shock. The Afterglow candle costs about $30, whereas my go-to bottle of massage oil ranges from about $7-$10. I have not yet determined how many uses I will actually get out of the Afterglow candle vs. my go-to liquid massage oil.
If price is an issue, then as of today I have Good News, everyone!
[Description: Professor Hubert J. Farnsworth from Futurama. Both his hands are raised and open. I can’t say the line without using the picture. I couldn’t resist.]
Or at least it’s good news for if you want the Afterglow candle but have important bills to pay. Until July 31, 2011, babeland.com is running a promotion on a Jimmyjane Afterglow massage oil candle – so long as the candle you want is the Fig-scented one. Details are listed here, (as of July 10th) so make sure you read the terms before making your purchase.
I took advantage of this deal, after having already tried out the cucumber water Afterglow candle.
The promotion of interest today is the one where you make a $5 donation to SEICUS (Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States,) through babeland.com’s website. In return, you receive a Fig-scented Afterglow massage candle, for “Free*.” Free*, in this case, means you’re still spending money to get something, but you’re technically spending it on a donation rather than the product. This link takes you to the donation-for-candle offer.
FYI, there’s other donation-related promotions and general sales going on. You can donate $5 to SIECUS straight-up, without receiving anything in return. A third option is to spend $75+ on a Jimmyjane product, AND make an additional $5 donation to SIECUS, in exchange for a Jimmyjane vibrator worth $20.
Don’t forget to factor in shipping costs if your order has any. Shipping isn’t included as part of these promotions, and if there’s any on your order, you will still be responsible for it.
Note that in addition to a different scent, the fig-flavored Afterglow candle comes with changed packaging. The ceramic container for the wax is transparent instead of opaque. The instruction book that comes in the box is printed on textured instead of glossy paper. There is a small book of matches inside of the box, so for safety’s sake don’t let any little kids open the package containing this candle. And the fig-scented Afterglow candle includes a little lightweight brush like what I was talking about earlier in this post – with this brush, you can paint the melted wax onto your partner instead of pouring it on.
Here’s what I got when I made this purchase:
[Description: A square, transparent candle holder with an unlit wick and off-white wax inside. Behind that, a box labeled “AFTERGLOW.” The lid on the box is open and white lettering says “MELT ME” on one flap. Inside of the box there sits a wide, black-bristled brush and a tiny rectangle box. You can’t tell from the picture but FYI there are matches inside of the tiny box. Next to that is a square instruction book.]
For having made the $5 donation, babeland.com also throws in a thank-you envelope containing 3 coupons. 2 of those coupons are good online in August or August + September, the last one good at brick-and-mortar Babelands only. And there’s a floppy magnet in the thank-you envelope.
[Description: Colorful, happy looking rectangle coupons, a bright pink rectangle magnet, an envelope with “THANK YOU!” typed on it.]
And then here’s a picture of the two candle packages together, just for fun.
[Description: the same coupons as above. Two cube boxes that both say “AFTERGLOW” on them. One has a green top and the other has a cyan top. The white, opaque candle holder is sitting on top of these two boxes.]
As with all reviews posted on Feminists with FSD so far, I had to pay for this product(s) out of pocket with my own money. I took advantage of the $5 donation program, but, only after having bought the cucumber-water Afterglow candle reviewed here at full price at an earlier date. But the promo is available to anyone so I didn’t have to agree to write anything to get it, so in the end I receive no compensation for having written this. I still foot the bills around here.
Tags: pain, reviews, sex education, Sexuality, TMI
(Not into product reviews? Consider this a warm-up before we get to the juicy stuff, as I’ve been out of practice with writing for awhile.)
My partner and I have a love/hate relationship with the Pinwheel, a medical-device-turned-sex-toy.
That is to say, I love it and my partner hates it.
[Description: A silver device with a long, thin handle resting on white cloth. A circle is attached to one end. There are something like 20+ thin, sharp points, each equal length, sticking out from the circle.]
What we’re looking at today is the Pinwheel, which some of you may recognize for what it really is: A Wartenberg wheel. The Wartenberg wheel is a medical device originally designed to test nerve response. It was developed by Robert Wartenberg, a doctor specializing in neurology, who practiced in Germany until he fled to the US in response to persecution by the Nazis. Wartenberg syndrome, a pain condition, is named after his work.
I don’t know if the Wartenberg wheel is still used in clinical practice, as most of the google results for a it point to the device’s use in kink and BDSM activities instead. Somewhere along the line, someone figured out that using the spiky wheel on yourself or on a partner could feel good in and of itself – at least outside of a clinical setting. Nonetheless, because of its original intended use, some readers here may not want to incorporate this into their sex lives – it may have too clinical of a feel, and it has the potential to be genuinely painful.
How and why would one go about incorporating something so sinister looking into their sex life? According to Babeland, it’s a sensation toy. I don’t 100% know what that means, but a label like sensation toy seems to indicate that, what you’re using is supposed to introduce new physical feelings – touch that you or your partner don’t usually feel, like sharpness instead of softness, metal instead of flesh, cold instead of warmth, and so on. It’s to add variety rather than to speed up orgasm. For example, I like to incorporate it into massage with my partner, though this can break a deep state of relaxation.
Now there is one problem with my Pinwheel:
[Description: A close up of the wheeled spike circle on the end of the pinwheel’s handle. There are clearly some prongs all bent out of shape at the very tips.]
I think mine’s broken, and I’m not sure if it got messed up during shipping or if it got all bent out of shape the first time I was taking it out of the packaging. Either way it was like that when it got here.
In practice, the 3 bent prongs don’t seem to make much of a difference. The points are small enough so that I can’t tell the difference when my partner rolls the bent part over me. But the bent parts have gotten stuck on my hair, so it could be a problem. And the bent parts take away from the device’s aesthetic – it doesn’t look pretty and I find the bent parts distracting. So sooner or later, I’m going to need to replace it.
In other words, if you decide you’re interested in such a wheel, don’t pick one out if you notice any problems with it. Hold out for a nice new one. Once you have one, handle with care – the Pinwheel is more fragile than it looks.
It makes some noise. Because it is made of metal, and the wheel has to be free to move, the device jangles around when you pick it up. Once I recognized the sound it made, my partner was no longer able to sneak up on me with it – I could hear the metallic parts clinking together.
It’s lightweight, especially if you can hold the entire handle in your hand. It could become tiring to hold if you can’t get a good grip on it, or if you have to hold it from only the very bottom of the handle.
When rolled over skin, the metal points will leave little red dots behind in a long unbroken trail; how long it takes for these marks to fade will depend on your own biology. The sensation is difficult to describe – have you ever just barely noticed the feeling of an insect crawling on your skin? If you look down at your arm or hand, yep, there’s a critter on there alright – and at this point you (I) usually kick or flick it off. To me, a light touch with the Pinwheel feels like that, minus the gross-out realization of “Ew there’s a bug on me!” Medium and heavier touches feel much more intense and surprisingly widespread. The wheel may be rolling over only a small part of one of my limbs, but the feeling and muscle tension reaction will spread all the way down the limb.
When my partner uses it on me it makes my muscles tense up involuntarily until the stimulation stops. I’m not sure if this is good or bad for me, since those muscle contractions include my pelvic floor, and my pelvic floor is already messed up as it is – what that means is I can’t decide whether or not it would interfere with Kegels. Heavier touches on healthy skin border on pain but so far do not cross the threshold into actual pain.
So although I enjoy it, in contrast, when I tried it out on my partner, it didn’t go over so well. The spikes produced a lot of skin welts, a little red pinprick of blood, his wriggling away and finally, after a few generous attempts and “I don’t know if I like it yet,” a final “No more I’m done I hate it.” He is still willing to use it on me at my request, but he does not understand why I like it. I don’t have an answer. But clearly this is not the right toy for him.
It’s relatively inexpensive, though the price can vary widely – between $4 – $20, depending on where you buy it from. A Pinwheel from Babeland (which is where I got mine from) will set you back $20, but you can get the same thing for less through Amazon (this might be a more innocuous option if you share your computer with someone who would not appreciate navigating it towards adult-themed sites.) Supposedly there are expensive versions which are more geared towards medical use in a professional setting, though I did not find them during a cursory search.
I do have some caveats before you rush out and pick one up. It broke my partner’s skin, so there’s a risk it could break yours, too – watch out for bodily fluids. It’s stainless steel and it can be cleaned, but most of us probably don’t have the means at home to truly sterilize a medical instrument to medical standards. My partner doesn’t like the ticklish sensation it produces, so if you dislike light touches it may be too uncomfortable. It has the potential to be painful as well, and so if you are sensitive to touch it might not be the right toy for you.
As with all reviews posted on Feminists with FSD so far, I had to pay for this out of pocket with my own money, and I don’t get any compensation out of posting this.
Tags: dilators, picture post, reviews, sex, sex education, sexual health, shopping, TMI
While I was on break earlier this month with my long-term, LDR partner, we shared many adventures together. Two of our adventures took us to local sex toy shops (because one such adventure just wasn’t enough!) The first shop we visited was Lovers Package. Lovers Package (no apostrophe) is a sex toy retailer with an online presence and several locations in Washington State. Lovers sells a wide variety of adult products ranging from novelties to high-end luxury vibrators, and participates in sex-positive activism events. A recent such example was Lover’s hosting a visit made by sex therapist and author Dr. Marty Klein, and participation in PrideFest June 27. This was not our first visit to the store, although it is the first one I’ve made since I started blogging here.
Although I did not take any pictures of the interior of the store for this visit, I do have a photo of our haul, and links to photos of inside of the store in question. Since this post contains some pictures and frank sexual descriptions, it’s going behind a NSFW cut now. Everything should show up in your RSS feeder, and if you’re visiting on the main page, you’ll need to click through to continue at your discretion. Thanks!