Like all things in life, it's really up to you to determine which certifications matter to you and which ones don't. Put on your cute investigator cap and check out the certifying organization's website to learn more about their standards and process. Transparency is always a good sign, so look for organizations that are open about how they certify products and what requirements manufacturers have to meet.
Here are a few certifying bodies you'll likely see:
Leaping Bunny: One of the most popular certifications in the beauty industry, Leaping Bunny certification requires that a product and its ingredients aren't tested on animals at any point during development. [Note: products are exempted from the animal testing restriction when testing on an ingredient is required by a regulatory agency, such as the FDA.]
USDA Organic: The gold standard for organic certifications, the USDA requires that products bearing its label meet the rigorous standards set by the United States Department of Agriculture. Meaning their ingredients haven't been exposed to pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, or ionizing radiation.
Made Safe: A nonprofit organization that, through an internal audit process, assists companies selling household products that are not “toxic” to humans and the environment.
PETA: As we mentioned before, PETA certifies both vegan and cruelty-free products. To receive certification, a company must pledge that neither its products nor ingredients have been tested on animals at any point during development.
Vegan Society, Vegan.org, and Vegetarian Society: These certifying bodies all have different requirements, but the general idea is that products must be free of animal products and byproducts to earn certification. Being free of animal testing is not a part of this certification.
What If My Fav Product Is Not Certified?
Just because a product isn't certified doesn't mean it's a dealbreaker. Getting certified costs money and time, so some small or new companies may not be able to get certified right away. Not to mention that not all products qualify for the popular certifications that a lot of people look for. No organization certifies condoms as organic, for example, so look for other attributes when shopping condoms such as natural ingredients, vegan, sustainable, etc.
So while certifications can be helpful to evaluate and trust a product, there are several other factors to consider when deciding how to shop for body-safe sex toys and essentials:
Natural Ingredients & Body-Safe Materials: Nothing is more important than reading the label to determine whether the ingredients are truly healthy and body-safe. Every product, whether it's for contraception or pleasure, has its own unique set of guidelines and any company selling a product should be fully transparent—from a full list of ingredients and explicit directions for use, to sourcing of its materials and the sustainability of its operations. And if you ask a question and get an evasive answer, that's not a good sign.
Shared Values: Head over to the About page and get to know the company—its founders, its mission—and ask yourself if these are people and values you want to support. There's no shortage of purchasing options out there, so you might as well feel reeeaaaally good about the company you're buying from as well as what's going inside your body.
Partners: Look at the company's partners—all of them. If they sell their products with a natural grocer you trust, for example, you can bet that retailer did their homework to affirm the product is not only worthy of their shelf-space but aligned with their values. Likewise, if the company supports organizations that protect the environment or amplify women's voices, those are actions that transcend marketing jargon.