I know I've not been writing much here of late - and my apologies. However, things should pick up next week, since Sir and I will be heading down to London for World Pride. We're planning to join either the BLUF or Etherkye's 'pet-palace' walking groups (the final decision is up to my Man!) so there should be lots to report then - and I hope to be able to meet a few of you either on the March, or at one of the club nights!
I've also been doing some writing on the new pup-play book - and asking on both fetlife and pupzone for suggestions from other pups as to what they would like to see covered. It's been quite an inspiration.
Meantime - I have also had several requests over the last few weeks from new guys who have read my book and been inspired to get into rubber, and who wanted my advice on what to buy and how to care for it. I thought it might be useful to share some of what I have told them here:
A novice's guide to rubber
So, you'd like to get your first piece of rubber, but haven't a clue what to look out for or how to look after it...?
I guess the first thing I'd advise is to buy the best rubber you can - and if you can manage it, get it made to measure. I tend to use Invincible here in the UK, mainly because I have a long history of buying gear from them them and because I know their quality is the best; I have also visited them to have my measurements professionally taken by their tailors, so their m2m gear really *fits*. If you're in the US, then I believe that Mr.S stocks Invincible's range - but if you choose to go elsewhere, make sure to ask around first and see what makers others near you recommend.
Rubber comes in different thickness's. The thinner it is, the more it stretches and conforms to the body, but the more vulnerable it can be to pulling. Thicker grade rubber is less flexible and more restrictive - but if it's too tight it can be vulnerable to tearing at the seams. Form-fitting Gear that is designed to stretch (say a wrestle-suit or underwear) will need to be in thinner rubber, more 'industrial' styles (such as jeans or a shoulder-entry suit) might want to be in heavier grade.
I normally like to have my gear made in a mid-grade gauge: thin enough to stretch, but thick enough to really feel it encase me.
Getting the gear on and off depends on the gear and its tightness: thicker, looser gear like jeans will probably be relatively easy, but anything form-fitting is going to need to be eased on slowly and carefully - and will often need a dressing-aid.
Most new gear arrives from the maker covered in a thin covering of talc to stop it sticking to itself in transport. Many guys use this method to get their gear on too: and lightly dust the inside of the rubber with an unscented mineral talc (avoid things like baby talc, since it contains small amounts of oil, which will eventually rot the rubber). You only need a little talc: just enough to help the rubber move across your body.
The trouble with talc is that it then mixes with your sweat and either blocks your skin pores, or trickles out from wrists and ankle seams as a white chalky fluid that stains and marks everything...
A perverse alternative is to use powdered j-lube. You can dust the inside of your gear with it as if it was talc, but then once you start to sweat it mixes up into a super slick slime that coats the inside of the rubber - so you get the best of both worlds. Be warned though - it is a *nightmare* to clean up afterwards...!!
I prefer to use a rubber-safe silicone lube (normally Pjur Bodyglide): massaging a little of it into my skin before then pulling on my gear. The silicone acts a a lubricant to make it so much easier to get the gear on, but is also then acts to improve the feel of the rubber as it glides over every sensitive part of your encased body... ;) It even acts as a moisturiser, so your skin feels amazing afterwards too. There *is* some disagreement as to whether silicone lubes can damage rubber over time, but I've been using a high grade lube for many years, and none of my gear has ever shown signs of deterioration.
I have recently also started having all my gear chlorinated: this is a chemical process applied after the gear is made up. 'Normal' rubber feels slightly 'tacky' to the touch - a result of it's molecular construction of matted strands; chlorination fills in all of these microscopic holes, making the surface of the rubber feel satin smooth and look super glossy. This makes it infinitely easier to get on and off - and it also makes it less susceptible to damage from oils and sweat. There are guides online to how you can DIY the process, but I prefer to leave it to the professionals and use a cholorination service.
Whatever dressing aid you use, the most important thing is to be gentle and take your time: don't just tug - ease it on, inch by inch. Bunch up leggings or sleeves, and roll them on - the way a woman would a stocking. If your rubber isn't chlorinated Lube will help, so too will a little bit of manscaping if you are particularly hairy...
Watch out for long finger nails, jewellery etc too. You will also need to be careful of sharp objects that could snag or tear (which can include buckles and studs on your playmates gear). The tighter the rubber and the bigger the stretch, the more vulnerable it is to tearing.
Cleaning and storing
The final thing with rubber is that it does need to be protected a little: keep it out of strong sun and sources of heat and away from salts and oils - all of these will slowly break down the rubber and damage your gear over time.
It's also a good idea to keep your gear clean if you want it to last.
You don't need to use harsh chemicals: I wash my gear after every wear simply by getting into the shower or bath whilst I am still wearing it all. I then let everything soak for a while: letting the water flow over and inside and washing away any remaining lube together with my oily sweat (and any other fluids). It's an incredibly nice feeling, and an excellent way to unwind after a heavy play-session - like having a personal Jacuzzi ;)
All that water then also makes it easier to slowly ease the rubber off my body.
Once a month or so I will then also give my gear a proper wash - which normally means filling the bath with warm (not hot!) water and a little baby-shampoo or mild washing-up liquid, then soaking and gently agitating the rubber (Invincible also sells a special latex detergent if you are interested). I always make sure to rinse several times, to make sure there are no chemicals left. I then gently dry the gear (inside and out), then hang it up to air dry for a good 12 hours (out of the sun and away from heat) - turning it inside out a few times through the day.
All of my gear is then stored in a separate wardrobe, on lightly padded hangers, and with plenty space between each item to prevent them sticking together.
All of which may all seem like hard work, but rubber gear can be expensive, so it's worth taking care of!
That said - the one and only reason for having gear is to wear it and play in it, so don't get too precious over it: enjoy it, love it - and when it finally dies just see it as a chance to go get some more :)