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The Sale of Used Sex Toys
The Risks & Responsibilities for Consumers & Sellers

In 2014, we at the National Association for the Advancement of Science & Art in Sexuality conducted an informal, undercover investigation to study how often sex toys were being sold after previously being purchased. While in some cases it is difficult to determine, many resellers are quite lax in covering up the fact that they are selling previously owned and used sex toys. In other cases resellers may be unaware they are selling previously purchased sex toys because their product fulfillment is being done through a distributor or manufacturer that takes returns from consumers.

The year long study was conducted by doing random purchases of popular sex toys through several major retail websites and it was determined that many of the of sex toy retail web sites tested are selling previously purchased sex toys. One of the largest online retailers was the biggest offender with third party sex toy sellers sending out over 10% off all sex toys purchased and tested showing signs of having been previously purchased, opened and possibly used.

Indicators noted in the study to determine if a sex toy had been previously purchased were physical evidence found on the actual sex toys inside their packaging such as human body hair (including pubic hair), vaginal and anal secretions (including fecal matter), saliva, finger prints, lubricant residue, animal fur, lint from clothing and more.

Why Resellers May Be In The Dark

Many online retailers who sell sex toys never handle the products that are shipped to consumers, rather, they use drop ship accounts through sex toy distributors and in some cases the manufacturers themselves. In these situations, the retailer is putting their faith in the distributor or manufacturer that they are only sending out new, never been purchased sex toys to their consumers.

However, many distributors and manufacturers take returns and how they handle those returns from direct sales to consumers varies. This means that a retailer who drop ships a product or even purchases products wholesale may be inadvertently be getting a previously sold product without their knowledge and in turn is sending it out again to another consumer. This is why it is so difficult to discern at times who the actual source of the returned sex toy is as it can happen at the manufacturer, distributor and retailer level.

This is not to say that there are not sex toy retailers that knowingly sell previously sold and possibly used sex toys but it is important to understand that it is very difficult for consumers to know at what point the reselling of a previously purchased product is occurring.


Companies In Our Study

We have opted to keep the names of the sex toy retail companies that were tested in our study confidential in order to keep from inadvertently harming their business reputation as there is no way for us to know for certain if they were aware that the products they had shipped were previously sold and/or used. It is not our intention to cause harm to businesses in the adult novelty industry, rather we wish to be proactive and to strongly encourage manufacturers to utilize security stickers on their products at the time of production to prevent the possibility of this occurring.

Risks & Solutions

Due to risks of STDs and other health concerns no business should sell a sex toy that they know to have been previously purchased. These unethical business practices of reselling sex toys must be thwarted and it is why we are launching a campaign for sex toy manufacturers to provide standardized safety seals on all of their products to prevent resellers from selling consumers previously owned sex toys with or without their consent or knowledge.

The type of security seals that NAASAS is proposing the entire adult novelty industry use are those that clearly show if a product has been opened to provide consumers reassurances that a product has never been opened prior to them purchasing it. We will be actively advocating for such tamper evident security methods with manufacturers and hope to see industry-wide changes to reduce risks of liability with resellers and to ensure the health of consumers.

Security Seals for Sex Toys

Security Seals for Adult Novelties


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