Category Archives: Reviews

SKYN Original Polyisoprene Condom Review

 

SKYN Originals have been around a while now and seeing as I am involved in a condom blog I thought it was about time I actually tried the non-latex offering.  In fact, this is the first condom ever made from polyisoprene.

I knew before I tried SKYN that they had advertised as the first and that this material was not latex rubber. However, I did have to ask the question What the f**k is polyisoprene? As it turns out, it is pretty much just rubber. It has very similar chemical structure, however, it’s synthetic and derives from petroleum rather than tress. It’s close enough that it’s sometimes referred to as ‘synthetic natural rubber’.

Although very similar in structure to latex it’s a good alternative for those who have a latex allergy or if the smell and taste of latex repels you. However, it’s not so good if you are trying to ween off petroleum dependency.

SKYN is part of the Lifestyle’s range in the USA and it can be found licensed for sale pretty much across the world including other brands such as Mates in the UK.

Trying a new condom can be oddly nerve racking. A bad condom can break the moment which (of course) is much less of a problem than it actually breaking but still not the outcome one wants! Non-latex still hasn’t yet taken the mainstream market yet…perhaps because they are more expensive or because latex allergy is not very prominent. But one does not need allergies to enjoy these johnnies.

Here’s My Review

So unwrapping the SKYN, my partner and I were not totally sure what to expect.

The moment was pretty much anti-climatic. Tearing open the wrapper, like Charlie looking for the golden ticket, we found simply a condom- a humble, transparent, normal looking rubbery lubricated condom. The condom rolled on very well. No drama. No talking points!

From other reviews I’ve come across, I expected it to feel and sound like sandwich bag, but no. The condom felt great! If no one told me, I wouldn’t have been able to ousted it out as a latex imposter. As much as I could tell it felt the same as a perfectly fitting latex condom. If comparisons had to be drawn I would say it felt like regular Lifestyles Ultra Thin or Durex Love.

Size wise it fit me great. The SKYN original is an average sized condom with a base width of 2.08”/53mm and a length: 7.5”/190mm. There is an XL and extra-lubricated version in the range so it may be worth picking up the multipack to get an idea of what works with you the best. In fact, this is the only non-latex XL condom available on the market!

SKYN say that their condom is softer and more flexible than regular latex. While I can’t for sure say that is the case, I can say after a few uses I have experienced no comfort problems, neither has my partner. They roll on easily, fit well and don’t inhibit feeling during sex. Perfectly satisfied.

I would say they are well worth a try!

Some external links are affiliate links that help us pay for this site. This is not a condom company endorsement. All opinions shared are the author’s own.

What Fire & Ice Condoms Feel Like According to Pilar Reyes

This story by Pilar Reyes is originally published on Fuck Feast (@fuckfeast) and cross-posted with permission. The opinions shared are the writer’s own. NSFW. 

Whenever I’m in the “Family Planning” aisle at Walmart, usually I just spring for the condoms that are on sale today. Sure, I can always score condoms at various free clinics and free love inclined coffee shops in Oakland, but it’s always good to have some back up, just in case. About a week and a half ago I bought a 36 pack of Trojans, you know, the one that has 4 different varieties of condoms on them. Generally, it would never occur to me to buy those weird “Fire & Ice” condoms or anything other than standard, cheap condoms because, I’ll be honest, I’m not the one with the penis and different types of condoms don’t really create any marginal increase in pleasure, so who cares. (Maybe the dude cares, but if he really cares that much, shouldn’t he be the one buying condoms? And while we’re on that subject, how come it’s always my responsibility to have the condoms? Dudes in this city are so underprepared. I guess every boy in Oakland failed in the Boy Scouts department.)

Anyways, back on topic. I wasn’t really paying attention to the type of condom that the boy was putting on (mostly I just cared that it got on there), but after a few minutes there was this weird tingly-numb sensation in my pussy that immediately made me think, “I’m dying inside my vagina.” But, no, a few seconds later, I thought, “Maybe I’m contracting an STD right now and this is what it feels like….”

Read the full story at Fuck Feast

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Pilar Reyes is an Oakland native who still lives in her hometown. She publishes pieces daily for Fuck Feast [www.fuckfeast.net], her personal blog. When she’s not writing, she’s doing bad things. Follow her on Twitter: @pilar [www.twitter.com/pilar].

Condom Size Chart has been Updated

iStock_000008877505XSmallCondom Monologues is thrilled to announce that our Condom Size Chart is up-to-date!  This is our most popular post so we think it crucial to keep it spick and span.  It includes objective measurements researched by CM’s staff of all the latest condom products from North America’s top three brands: Trojan, Durex and LifeStyles. And we provide links to other works at CM depending on how in-depth you want to know your condom before using.

This is not a company endorsement.  We do not cater support for one condom company over another.  Instead we offer this as a map to help guide through the frustrating aisle of condoms where each product self-proclaims to be the “Thinnest”, “Most Sensitive”, “Ultra Pleasure” out there. We hope this size chart continues to help find suitable condoms and experience new pleasures.

Check out the latest version of Condom Size Chart here!

 

Ansell Lifestyles, Ultra Thin

Image source from http://www.productreview.com.au/p/ansell-lifestyles-ultra-thin.html

Image source from http://www.productreview.com.au/p/ansell-lifestyles-ultra-thin.html

Note: We bought these in New Zealand, but in North America they have blue colored packaging.

This is a great condom.  Generally, I find Lifestyles tend to be a bit tight around the ring and difficult to roll down to the base.  But the Micro-Thin fits like a (G)love!  It unrolls ease every time with just the right amount of stretch so there is not a lot of time spent making sure it’s on correctly.  And no complaints in the sensitivity dept.  I give the condom a 4 out of 5.  The only reason it doesn’t hit top spot is because it has that slight latex scent that I dislike, which makes my want to try the polyisoprene version.

Laying flat, it’s measurements are

Length: 7.6in/193mm
Base width: 2.0in/50.8mm (this condom has the same width from the ring up until the reservoir tip).

(This is not a product endorsement!  While some of our links are affiliate links that earn us a small commission, Condom Monologues is an independent, grassroots collective and we do not favor on brand or product for profit).

Non-Latex Condom Options

purple condomOptions for non-latex condoms today are increasing and more people are choosing non-latex condoms regardless of latex allergies.  This is basically because the latest non-latex options are made of material that is softer, thinner, more elastic than latex rubber.  In this post, we explain basic facts about non-latex condoms, such as what the differences are between polyisoprene and polyurethane, and what are the advantages and disadvantages of different non-latex options. All condoms, except Lambskin, have the advantage of protecting against both sexually transmitted infections and unwanted pregnancy. Condoms do not require clinical visits, they do not alter hormones nor have physical side effects. Non-latex condoms are a key solution for those who are sensitive to latex.  Options include lambskin, polyurethane and polyisoprene condoms, AT-10 synthetic resin and synthetic nitrile rubber. Lambskin condoms, also known as “natural skin” or “sheepskin”, are one of the oldest methods of birth control.  They are made of a thin layer of cecum which is part of the sheep’s intestine.  The organic matter provides such intimate sensation that many users consider them the closest thing to not wearing a condom.  Lambskin condoms are effective at preventing pregnancy.  However, they do not prevent against sexually transmitted bacteria or viral infections, including herpes and HIV.  Now that there are other latex alternatives, lambskin may decline in popularity as other non-latex options- like polyurethane and polyisoprene- do provide protection against STIs and pregnancy.

Want to know the size and variety of non-latex condoms available on the market?  Do a comparative search at our Condom Calculator or visit our Non-Latex Condom and Dams Size Chart.

What are the benefits of lambskin condoms?

  • Lambskin condoms are suitable for people with latex allergies and sensitivities.
  • They are thin and have a high reputation of providing the best pleasure of all condom types.
  • They transmit body heat better than latex.
  • They are biodegradable
  • They can be used with oil, silicon and water-based lubricants
  • They protect against unwanted pregnancy.
  • They are typically available in most drugstores and can be easily bought online.

What are the disadvantages of lambskin condoms?

  • They do not protect against sexually transmitted infections and diseases.
  • They do not protect against the risks of oral sex.
  • They are expensive; approximately $3.00 each compared to the average Trojan latex condom cost of 0.50 each.
  • Trojan is the only manufacturer of lambskin condoms in North America.
  • They are not vegan

The first FDA approved polyurethane condom was Durex Avanti in the 1990s.  Compared to latex, polyurethane condoms are thinner and do not have a scent.  While very durable, polyurethane is less elastic and snug fitting than latex, making the risk of slippage or breakage higher.  Thus lubrication (oil, silicone, or water-base) is highly recommended for penetrative sex.  In 2009, Durex started manufacturing polyisoprene condoms instead of polyurethane, now called Avanti Bare Real Feel. Today, Trojan SUPRA is the most popular polyurethane condom on the North American market.

Benefits of Polyurethane

  • Thinner and less odor than latex
  • Transmits body heat very well
  • Can be used with oil, silicon and water-based lubricants
  • Available for female condoms and dental dams
  • They cost more than latex condoms, but are cheaper than lambskin
  • Ideal for those who prefer less tight, less body forming fit.

Disadvantages of Polyurethane

  • They are less elastic and are loose fitting compared to latex, thus increasing the risk of malfunction if no lubricant is used.
  • They are not biodegradable
  • Not easily accessible in all drugstores or supermarkets

Polyisoprene came on the market in 2008 by LifeStyles SKYN product line, and soon after Durex re-manufactured Avanti Bare Real Feel with the new material.  It is a natural rubber that is chemically similar to latex, but without the latex allergens.  In comparison to polyurethane condoms, polyisoprene is softer, more supple and form fitting, and slightly thicker (similar thickness to standard latex).  To date, polyisoprene condoms are sold in North America by LifeStyles and Durex.

Advantages of Polyisoprene

  • Softer, more elastic and form-fitting than both latex and polyurethane.
  • They transmit heat better than latex
  • They are cheaper than polyurethane condoms, but not as cheap as latex.

Disadvantages of Polyiosprene

  • Not biodegradable
  • Cannot be used with oil-based lubricants
  • Not made in both male and female form.
  • Not as readily available in stores; easier to find and buy online.

Nitrile Rubber: FC2 is the most common female condom globally and the only female condom available in North America.  In 2009, FC2 began manufacturing with nitrile rubber, which offers the same benefits and protection as polyurethane, but is less expensive to produce.  It is also softer and more supple than polyurethane.

Benefits of Nitrile Rubber

  • Hypo-allergenic
  • Protects against STIs and pregnancy
  • Significantly less expensive than other female condoms
  • Less likely to make the infamous crinkling noises as polyurethane femidoms.
  • Softer, more form-fitting, and supple than polyurethane.
  • Can use oil, silicon and oil-base lubricants

Disadvantages of Nitrile Rubber

  • Not biodegradable
  • 2X more expensive than male condoms
  • Not easily accessible in drugstores and supermarkets

This is a post that will be updated.  If you know of other non-latex condom options, please let us know.  And don’t be shy to ask any questions or leave comments here.

Buying Condoms Online

Everyone knows the awkwardness of staring at a store shelf of johnnies with so many questions and confusions (it really shouldn’t be awkward!). But not everyone has considered the advantages of buying condoms online. Sure, internet buying does not solve emergency needs. It can take some online orders up to two weeks to arrive. However, in this article, we consider how the advantages of buying online outweigh that of a pharmacy, corner shop, or grocery store.

Some of the external links are affiliate links that earn us a small commission.

Why buy condoms online

1) Privacy.

It is the most discrete way to buy condoms. Period. With no cashier to check through, you do not need to feel shy about what he or she will think when swiping your 12 pack of whatever type and size condom companies print so boldly on the box. No one will see your purchase.

Most condom distributor websites use discrete packaging and billing information. For example, undercovercondoms.com will ship your order in a plain envelop or box. The name on the return address does not reference anything about condoms or sex-related products. Instead it will read an inconspicuous “PCPD LLC”. The credit card bill will also list “PCPD LL” only. You do not need to ask the storekeeper face-to-face personal questions about which studded condom is the most sensitive or which “snug fit” suits your tool. Your needs can be researched and answered online with full anonymity.

2) Price.

Condoms are less expensive online. At a general DUADEreade in the USA, a box of 12latex condoms can range between $14.50 to $16.00. Online, however, a box of 12 can be $6.00 cheaper. For example, you can buy a 12 pack of Trojan Magnum Thins for $7.99. Even the more expensive non-latex condoms, such as Lifestyles SKYN line made of polyiosprene, can be as low as $6.99- which is about 50% less than the standard retail store price.

There also tends to be more deals offered online. Though no one can beat the price of free condoms one picks up at most health clinics or STI prevention centers (such as Planned Parenthood) there are some online deals that offer free sample packs.

3) Variety of selection.

This is arguably the best advantage to online shopping. Unlike a DUADEreade, there is a great trove of choice online as virtually all condom shape, sizes, textures, tastes are available. Those that are typically harder to access in retail stores, such as female condoms, vegan condoms, or non-latex, are easily retrieved online.

You can also find a great number of reviews and recommendations when exploring new brands or condom materials. This includes the advantage of searching for top sellers as well as the more rare, not so common condom types, like lamb skin or polyiosprene.

To compare condom sizes, types and prices try our Condom Size Calculator.

4) Custom fit condoms.

This service is provided online only. Companies like Coripa.com and TheyFit.co.uk will help you determine your size and recommend a condom for you with a 100% satisfaction guarantee policy. I do not think there are any other stores that would allow you to return a condom if it did not fit well.

What other advantages or disadvantages are there? If you can think of any, or have a relevant experience of buying condoms, please share here.

Confused about how to pick your size? Check out our guide for converting penis circumference to condom width.

Durex Condoms: Profile Summary

Durex Condoms FeatherliteAccording to Global Industry Analysts, Inc. (2010) and others, Durex is the most popular brand of condoms in Europe.  Their line offers 9 different latex condoms, with the top choices being Durex Love, Extra Sensitive and Ultimate Feeling.  Durex produced the very first male condom to be made of polyurethane, then Durex Avanti BARE was the next non-latex upgrade made of polyisoprene, a synthetic version of latex with the same elasticity, but without the scent or allergies. However, this product has been discontinued and Durex does not offer no latex products at this time.

In 2004, Durex ceased production of condoms containing Nonoxynol-9.  Durex also puts a substantial amount of money into sexual wellbeing research and STI prevention programs worldwide.

View our Durex Condom Size Chart

Best Condom:

Reviewing various sources including Undercover Condoms, Condom Choice, Consumer Report, etc. the hot picks of Durex are tied between Durex Love, Extra Sensitive and Ultimate Feeling, but these latexes are likely to change as MicroSheer polyurethane and polyisoprene become more mainstream technology.  Durex’s top selling non-latex condom was Avanti BARE.

Durex Love gets its reputation as easy to put on, easy to please.  Thinner than standard latex, built with a little extra headroom and length (8.0in/203mm) for somewhat larger than average guys and are specially shaped for easy roll-on.  It is made with 25% more lubricant than the standard condom for an extra silky smooth and natural feel.  It is a 6 time winner on Condom Depot’s World’s Best Condom Award.  Love scores on our personal top list too and is highly recommended: here’s our review.

Durex Extra Sensitive is as thin as you can get with latex condoms at .0019 thickness, which is 20% thinner than standard condoms.  It was awarded most reliable and dependable condom in 2005 by Consumer Report Magazine and is a 6 times winner on Condom Depot’s World’s Best Condoms Award.

Durex Ultimate Feeling equals the same thickness and lubrication as Extra Sensitive.  The only difference with this pop pick is its textured rib.  In 2011, it was rated as one of the top condoms for sensation by Live Strong.  If you or your partner enjoy over 58 lines of ribbed stimulation, this condom is a safe choice.

Not so hot:

We found Durex Performax with one of the lowest ratings from Undercover Condoms, Condom Depot and Condomman.  Users complain about numbness, taste, smell, and lose of erection.  However, it was rated one of the most reliable condoms by Consumer Report Magazine.  Not recommended if early ejaculation is not a concern.  There are no readily available criticisms about the Durex company. The main criticism we found was by one sex educator and medical research, Dr. Petra Boynton, who argues that the Durex Global Sex Survey lacks ethical validity and academic standards.  However, we have not yet found other sources validating her claims. This section is still undergoing research.

Durex Condom Size Chart

Image source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Durex

Trojan Condoms: Profile Summary

Trojan Condom, Her PleasureTrojan (at least in North America) is to condoms as Kleenex is to tissues.  It’s original manufacturer, Young’s Rubber Company, was the first to develop the latex condom in 1920 and has had a monopoly in drugstores ever since.  According to market research firm, SymphonyIRI Group, in 2010, Trojan took 70% of the US condom market bringing in about $270 million annually.

Trojan’s Magnum line offers some of the largest of the crop, both long by wide.  Their Magnum XL is 8.1in/206mm length and 2.3in/55.88mm width (Durex XXL is 9.5in/241mm).  The rule of thumb: If you measure greater than 5.2in/132mm in girth, than Magnum condoms may be best for you.  If your girth is greater than 5.8in/147mm you might consider Magnum XL.

View Trojan Condom Size Chart

Best Condom:

Among their 27 condoms variations we found Trojan Supra with the highest rating by numerous independent sources, such as Slate Mag (2005), Undercover Condoms, CondomUSA, and Condom Jungle.  This condom is not made of latex, but of microsheer polyurethane, which bills it as “ultra thin” (not to be confused with Trojan’s Ultra Thin latex version).  One major draw back: the Supra is only available with Nonoxynol-9, a spermicidal chemical.

Trojan Extended Pleasure is also popularly rated by the same sources.  It contains a special lubricant (benzocaine, a common anesthetic) that is very effective in preventing early ejaculation.  Personally, I found this condom to be unreliable and messy.  Here is my review from a few years ago. If you do try this condom, be careful not to spill the large glob of lubricant that sits at the tip.  It tastes and smells funny.

Not so hot:

On the flip side of Trojan’s dominance, Condom Depot’s annual condom awards reports Trojan condoms scoring low for four consecutive years.  Their reviews complain about a lack of sensitivity, dryness, and an overt latex smell.

Trojan Condoms Size Chart

This chart is updated continuously, but if you spot any inconsistencies or gaps, please let us know.

Image Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trojan_(condoms)

Trojan Magnum XL

Image from undercovercondoms.com

Some argue that there is little difference between “XL”, “Large” and “Regular” condoms and that condom size is just a marketing ploy to feed “big” egos.  In some ways, this is true.  Check out our guide for converting penis size to condom width. The table shows that there is a lot of overlap between condom sizes.

We at Condom Monologues vehemently debunk the size-matters-myth. However, we DO agree that condom size matters for safety and pleasure.  Too baggy and the condom bunches and slips off; too tight and it pinches and rips.  Any man who is extremely larger than average (between 5″-6.0″ long) and has used a regular size condom knows what we are talking about when we say “pinch”.  In fact, a recent study by Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender and Reproduction found that 44% of males felt that the last condom they used did not fit and was typically tighter rather than loose-fitting.

People have been asking how BIG the Trojan Magnum XL really is compared to other condoms on the market.  There are a lot of conflicting measurements and reviews out there; some reporting it as the widest condom; that it’s ideal if you are particularly thick; others say it is thinner and shorter than its competitor, Durex XXL.  One personnel from the Trojan marketing team even stated to NY Times that “you don’t have to be an overly endowed man to use a Magnum and enjoy it” (NY Times 2010).

Unfortunately, Trojan’s doesn’t offer standardized dimensions.  They just classify condoms as “Regular”, “Large”, and “XL”, with no indication of actual size and shape.

Here we pooled our research to offer objective info (we are not affiliated with any manufacturer) on the Magnum story: Why it was made, how popular it is, and how do its dimensions compare for those who need larger than average protection.  Please let us know whether this article has been helpful.

Further recommendations for larger, wider, and longer condoms can be found at our Solutions Size Chart. Or try our latest tool, the Condom Calculator (launched Oct 2013) and our Table Converter for penis girth to condom width.

XL History

The Magnum line was introduced in the USA in 2001 and its popularity has grown to jumbo proportions.  According to NY Times, Magnum alone (not including other Trojan products) holds 18% share of the total condom market in 2010.  That is impressive considering that Durex has 14% of the USA condom market.  This demonstrates that there is a great demand for XL condoms and makes us wonder why there are not more companies offering XL.

How XL is it?

Well, this may seem to be a straight forward answer, but unfortunately, there are a lot of conflicting measurements across the web. And really, everyone is endowed with different preferences of what feels right for their unique size and shape.  So the best thing to do is test run a sample pack of large condoms.

We’ve pooled together 7 different sizes from seven different sources (including undercover condoms, condom jungle, wow condoms, condom elite and others) and identified the smallest to largest measurements reported.  We also searched community forums and product reviews.

We conclude that the Trojan Magnum XL is approximately 2.3″/58mm base width and 8.5″/216mm length.  This is about .5″ wider and 1.0″ longer than regular condoms.  If you are are 5.3″/134mm or larger in girth, the Magnum XL may be the best option for you.

LifeStyles Condoms: Profile Summary

Lifestyles is an Australian owed company that produces approximately 25 different types of condoms.  They are the first to make polyisoprene condoms (more on that soon) and named this product SKYN. Their other featured condoms include THRYLL, WYLD, THYN and KYNG.  Life Styles prides itself as the first condom company to establish a sexual health division and sell condoms to the public health community at the low retail rate.  In cooperation with Planned Parenthood, Life Styles developed their popular “Sex Ed Kit” which contains teaching manuals, “how to” brochures, etc. to help preteens and adults feel more confident dealing with sexuality and social issues.

Lifestyles Condom Size Chart

Best Condom:

Life Styles’ His & Her Pleasure is highly rated by numerous sources including Undercover Condom, Condom Depot and Live Strong. In order to please and stimulate both parties, this is one of the only condoms that offer both vertical ribbed lines from the base to the tip and a larger head.

LifeStyles Ultra Sensitive made top of the list for the same sources above as well as  the top of Consumer Report ShopSmart Magazine, 2009. This is a non-textured, simple, reliable condom with a water-based lubricant.  It is slightly thinner than their Ultra Thin condom which equals .0197.  Ultra Sensitive measures .0024 thickness.

LifeStyles SKYN tends to get mixed reviews from poor to excellent.  Some say it’s just a normal condom; others vow they will never go back to latex.  SKYN has not won any awards or competitions.  However, according to research by Millward Brown, 2011, two-out-of-three surveyed users described it as their ‘best condom experience ever’ and that 66% of condom-users convert to SKYN after their first experience.  This has more stretch than Durex Avanti or Trojan Supra and is very soft (e.g. it doesn’t sound like Cling Film or Saran Wrap).

 Not so hot:

According to Condom Depot’s worst condom review database, Lifestyles Thryll Condoms are at the top bad, with complaints that the studs were dull and that the condom was thick, thus reducing feeling.

Life Styles Condom Size Chart