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Heile GänsjePhotography Matt Lambert

Buff Condoms are the first condoms for all genders and none

TextAlice Gibbs

Founder Rosy Candin has developed a condom that is vegan, all-gender, and compostable – we speak to her to find out more and how she wants to change the sex industry

Worldwide, six to nine billion condoms are sold every year. They’ve been with us for millenniums, and have seen mass improvement from the days when they were made from tortoiseshell, animal intestine, and even linen. In 1839, the first vulcanised rubber condom was brought to the market. Since then, they’ve seen increased improvement and change, allowing them to become the staple of the bedside table they are today.

Attitudes to condoms, however, is a different argument altogether. In common use since the 1800s, condoms have seen bans (notably in post-World War I France, when there was a fear of falling birth rates) and disapproval from the likes of Freud and Jane Austen, and were only grudgingly accepted by the Catholic Church in 2010 – and only then if they were used to prevent disease like HIV.

Despite frequent changes in the last 3,000 years, some still believe condoms have a long way to come (no pun intended). Rosy Candin is the founder of Buff Condoms and has created the world’s first all-gender, vegan, compostable condom.

The majority of modern condoms are made from latex, along with stabilisers, preservatives, and hardening agents, meaning there is no official knowledge on how long they will take to biodegrade. Meanwhile, the alternative polyurethane condoms definitely won’t degrade and aren’t recyclable either. Eco condoms are becoming increasingly common, but while Candin was looking for her own, she noticed something else.

“I was looking for a vegan and compostable condom for myself, and I noticed that most brands were labelling them as ‘male condoms’. I hadn’t really noticed before, but when you look at it, from the way they’re advertised to the instructions – always somewhere – they’re ‘male condoms’,” explains Candin.

Candin started doing some research and was increasingly surprised by the gendering of condoms in 2021. “I’ve got friends who are non-binary, and I thought that would be really dysphoric for them,” she says, “I kept looking to see if there were gender-neutral and inclusive condoms and I couldn’t find any, so I thought I’d make one.”

“I kept looking to see if there were gender-neutral and inclusive condoms and I couldn’t find any, so I thought I’d make one” – Rosy Candin, founder, Buff Condoms

Candin previously ran a charity based in Manchester, and worked to deliver menstrual products for people who needed them – without a gender specification. Then, last year, Superdrug introduced its first gender neutral sanitary products. “I thought, if there’s this huge trend of movement in the menstrual space, surely that has to happen in the sexual health space too.”

Buff condoms are developed without animal testing, use no animal protein, and are completely compostable. Designed for anyone who wants to use them, Buff’s are external condoms to be worn on the penis for safe sex.

Launching on February 6, Buff Condoms is raising money via crowdfunding to place its first order of 10,000 units. Though the first order needs to be large, the condoms themselves aren’t any more expensive than their non-vegan, non-compostable counterparts. “It isn’t costing us much more to produce them, so we feel it’s important not to pass extra cost onto the customer,” says Candin.

To mark the launch of crowdfunding, Candin will be reading erotic fanfiction live online for 12 solid hours. From then, the condoms will be available to order. 10 per cent of Buff’s profits will go directly to Frontline AIDS, a charity that supports LGBTQ+ people in getting access to sexual health information, and educates around preventive measures for HIV. 

“Condoms aren’t really seen as very cool,” concludes Candin, “but they’re so important – especially if you’re having sex with multiple partners. We want to make them accessible to as many people as possible.”

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