This article was medically reviewed by Alina Lane, DDS. Dr. Alina Lane is a Dentist who runs All Smiles Dentistry, a general practice dental office based in New York City. After completing a DDS at the University of Maryland, Dr. Lane completed a year-long clerkship in Implantology at the University of Maryland, where she focused on the advanced restoration of dental implants. She continued her advanced education by completing a General Practice Residency at Woodhull Medical Center, an affiliate of the NYU School of Medicine. She received the Woodhull Medical Center Resident of the Year 2012-2013.
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An important part of any dental care plan is proper cleaning, and this is particularly true for retainers. A dirty retainer can harbor bacteria, which can cause bad breath in your mouth. But caring for your retainer goes far beyond just keeping it clean. You’ll also need to protect your retainer from damage and store it properly when you’re not wearing it or cleaning it. Fixed/permanent retainers, which are not removable, require even more effort to care for, but it can be fairly easy once you get used to it. Retainers are very expensive to replace, so it’s important to take good care of your dental equipment and always use it as directed by your orthodontist.
If you're not familiar with the joy of butt plugs, allow me to introduce you to a versatile toy you can enjoy regardless of gender, orientation, or genitalia. If you have a prostate, butt plugs can stimulate it; if you have a vagina, a butt plug can create incredibly pleasurable pressure on the back vaginal wall. Not to mention that the anus is also surrounded by nerve endings.
Butt plugs are wonderful toys that can help you safely explore new sexual territory. If you've never tried them, or if you're already into anal sex, they can help you switch up your routine while warming up your body for new things. Whatever the reason you're keen to dive into the world of butt plug play, there are a few things you should know for a comfortable, safe, and sexy experience.
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What are butt plugs?
Some sex toys, such as the Wartenberg Pinwheel, have rather cryptic names. Butt plugs, however, do exactly what you'd imagine: They plug up your butt. A butt plug's main duty is to make you feel good: "The anus can be a remarkable source of pleasure, so butt plugs, with a lot of lube, are a great way to loosen up the anus and get something inside of it," says David Ortmann, a psychotherapist and sex therapist.
People often use butt plugs for penetrative anal-sex prep. Remember, unlike the vagina, the rectum doesn't self-lubricate. This is why it's important to warm up your butthole with plenty of lube and smaller objects, such as fingers and butt plugs, before penetrative sex with a strap-on or penis, says sex educator Timaree Schmit.
The key to anal play is relaxation.
Butt plugs are cleverly shaped for their function. They generally have narrow tips that get progressively wider toward the middle and then narrow again to a slim neck at the base so your rectum can contain them comfortably. Since the rectum can act like a vacuum and suck objects inside, a flared bottom, pull cord, or ring prevents a butt plug from getting lost inside you, Ortmann says. (Nobody wants to be the person whose story goes viral for ending in the ER with a butt plug stuck in their bum.)
What should I know before purchasing a butt plug?
In addition to choosing a plug with a flared base, it's important to check that your toy is body-safe. Since sex toys are sold as "novelty items," they're more or less unregulated by any federal agency, meaning it's up to you to make sure that materials are safe to put in, on, and around your genitals. Once I opened my lingerie drawer to notice that a rubber vibrator had leaked pink dye everywhere. If unsafe toys can stain my underwear, what else can they harm? As Schmit points out, "Cheaper toys might be made of chemicals that can leach into your body."
Start small — don't let your eyes get bigger than your butthole.
According to the Kinsey Institute, anything that's silicone, borosilicate glass (Pyrex), or stainless steel is a good bet. Schmit suggests beginners select silicone over glass or steel, as silicone has more give and is easier to insert. All three materials are nonporous and can be thoroughly cleaned after each use. Butt plugs made of hard plastics and acrylics, on the other hand, are porous, which means they can become hotbeds of bacteria from your GI tract, which is neither safe nor sexy.
Another butt plug rule of thumb: Start small, and don't let your eyes get bigger than your butthole. "Pick one that looks ludicrously small to you," Ortmann says. "I remember buying my first one and thinking, This is a good medium size. I don't think I got that thing inside of me for another decade." If you're a total beginner, start with the smallest size available and work your way up. After all, you can't return a used butt plug.
Can butt plugs be used for more than anal sex preparation?
Anal sex warm-up is far from the only use for plugs. Some within the BDSM community use them as part of dominance and submission (D/s) play. ("I like to make submissives suck on the butt plug that I'm going to use on them," Ortmann says.) An advanced user may wear a butt plug for several hours, or out in public.
If you have a vagina, the butt plug is also a wonderful way to experience double penetration: Slide one in after applying lube and wear it during vaginal sex with a penis or dildo. You can also simultaneously stimulate your clit with fingers or a vibrator. Many people love receiving oral while they have a butt plug in. That said, you don't need a partner to enjoy butt plugs — they make for excellent masturbation companions. In fact, solo sex is a lovely way to explore anal play. The bottom line is that anal pleasure through butt plugs is something anyone can enjoy.
You keep mentioning lube. What should I know about that?
Again, the rectum doesn't self-lubricate, so you're going to have to help it out. And if you're using a butt plug with multiple partners, practice safer sex by putting a condom on it and using a non-oil-based lube before each use, advises Ortmann. Oil-based lubes, including at-home options such as coconut oil, break down latex, but water- and silicone-based lubes do not.
Here's the thing about silicone lubes, though: They're awesome for anal play because they're thick and tend to last longer than water-based varieties, but silicone breaks down silicone. If you're using a silicone toy, grab a water-based lube. Glass or stainless steel butt plugs work wonderfully with any lubricant. But if you're new to butt plugs, start with silicone, as the material has more give than glass or stainless steel.
Have you ever wondered how clean (or dirty) your makeup is? We already know makeup counter testing samples are a breeding ground for who-knows-what, but what about the stuff we use everyday at home? Cosmetics have a shelf life, and even before their expiration date, products can grow bacteria—which in turn can cause irritation and even infections on your skin, eyes, etc.
That’s why we love BeautySoClean’s chemical-free makeup sanitizers, which are easy to use and loved by pros. And unlike pure alcohol or a simple water-diluted version of alcohol, the formula won’t dry out creams or powders or alter pigments in any way. The company has done its due diligence to find the right balance of alcohol plus nourishing emollients, so incorporating them into your routine will help ensure safer products and healthier skin. Here, we explain how to use the line—which won’t dry out cosmetics—to keep different types of products bacteria-free and safe.
Products in Compacts
(powder or cream eye shadow, blush, bronzer, concealer, etc.)
Use: Cosmetic Sanitizer Mist | Shop the product
The spray-on sanitizer helps to remove bacteria (oils that have built up over time) from any compact-based product. Keep in mind that powder compacts that haven’t been sanitized properly can change in texture or dry up over time. BeautySoClean won’t be able to fix what’s already been damaged, but it can help to protect new compacts from going bad!
Step 1: Hold mist about 6 inches from the product surface. Spray once.
Step 2: Let it set for 10 seconds.
That’s it! Your makeup is now sanitized and safe for use. The mist is available in three sizes, all of which last a long time:
• 8 ml: 70 sprays, 3 months
• 120 ml: 750 sprays, 3 months (regular, professional use)
• 250 ml: 1,500 sprays, 6 months (regular, professional use)
Products in Pots, Tubs, or Tubes
(lipstick, lip gloss, mascara wands, pencils)
use: Cosmetic Sanitizer Wipes | Shop the product
The wipes are made from the same formula as the mist, but designed especially for makeup items that residue might stick to—like lipgloss and mascara wands, lipsticks, etc. And the material is “non-woven,” unlike, say, tissues, so it won’t leave remnants behind on the product (which might happen on say, a lipstick, if you sprayed and wiped it with a tissue). In particular, lip glosses with wand applicators are at risk for attracting bacteria. After eating and reapplying gloss, food particles that were stuck to your lips (bacteria included) might end up pushed to the bottom of the tube, contaminating the product. Yikes. Bonus: using the wipes helps mascara go on clump-free!
Step 1: Wrap one wipe around your product, and thoroughly wipe from base to tip.
Step 2: Let it set for 10 seconds.
Done! Your product is clean and ready for use. Wipes are available in packs of 48 and 200.
Note: BeautySoClean recommends sanitizing your products everyday before application. Doing so will keep your makeup clean, safer to use, and help it last longer.
Cleaning up a messy bedroom can seem like a daunting task, but if you prepare a simple plan, you can clean up thoroughly and in record time. Assess your bedroom and the time you need to really get involved in the process. You can get a lot done in a short amount of time if you map it out well!
Here’s a basic speed cleaning roadmap to kick your routine in high gear:
- First, bring in a garbage bag and pick up trash around the room. Getting garbage out of the way ensures you’ll avoid spills or soiling linens while cleaning.
- Next, take care of the bed. An uncluttered bed with a smooth blanket and neat pillows sets the tone for the entire room. If you have time to change the sheets, do it first. If not, shake out the blanket on a patch of the floor to refresh it, and then make the bed. A neat bed can also hold items such as picture frames or books, where you can neatly line them up and easily put them back after cleaning.
- Put clutter in its place. Straighten nightstand items, such as lamps and knickknacks, and bring any kitchen items back to their rightful place. Place clothes either in the laundry bin, or make a pile in your closet to fold later. If you have items from other rooms lying around, start a sorting pile that you can remove and deal with later. We want the bedroom to be clean, and not turn into a game of "Where does this go?"
- Wipe down the furniture with microfiber dust wipes. Who needs polishing spray and a rag when you’re in a hurry! Pre-cut and folded microfiber cloths work great to dust furniture, a TV, bookshelves and picture frames.
- Vacuum or sweep the floor. This is an essential step, since a lot of dust and crumbs settle here. A quick run around the room will be effective. If you have more time, go for a second spin.
To be consistent, start in one corner of the room and work your way around it in one direction. If you move aimlessly around, you can lose focus. Also, try to attack one chore at a time, instead of doing multiple chores at once. If you don’t have time to vacuum or dust your blinds and you try anyway, you won’t complete the job well.