TPE vs Silicone
TPE and Silicone both offer advantages and disadvantages over each other and may ultimately come down to preference. TPE is the most commonly used material in the doll world and is significantly cheaper than silicone. This does not mean that it isn’t as good as silicone, though. You will find varying opinions. Let’s get into what these materials are and what pros and cons they have. None of the cons are deal-breaking in my opinion as well as the vast majority of the doll communities opinion!
What is TPE?
TPE, also known as thermoplastic elastomer, is a material that typically consists of both plastics and rubbers which offers benefits of both of these polymers. They are great for injection molds which is used in the doll creation process. TPE allows for a soft, lifelike touch, feel, and elasticity. Using TPE allows the doll to be soft, yet supple and fairly durable allowing for the skin to be reasonably stretched before returning to its original shape. As long as one cares for their TPE doll, there is no reason for it to not last at least several years or much longer.
TPE is fairly porous and if not cleaned, dried, and cared for properly, it can be a little more susceptible to molds compared to silicone. You can see our cleaning and care guide here. If your TPE doll is cleaned and dried thoroughly, there is no need to be overly concerned! Due to TPE’s porous nature, it may also be more susceptible to staining from clothing dyes as well. It’s certainly okay to dress up your doll in clothing of your choice, but it is typically not recommended to leave heavily dyed clothing on your doll when in storage, especially if it is tight fitting.
TPE will typically give off a distinct smell when the doll is freshly made. This will ultimately fade after a short time after which your doll will either have absolutely no scent or it will only be detected if pressing your nose to the skin.
What is Silicone?
Silicone is another polymer and it has an incredibly vast array of uses in it’s various forms. Some of the benefits of choosing a silicone doll is it does not have a smell, it is more resistant to staining from dyes, less porous and ultimately more resistant to water and mold growth compared to TPE, and can also be a bit more durable in these regards. Silicone dolls are always going to be more expensive than TPE dolls due to the cost of production of material.
Silicone dolls have made incredible strides over the years. They are now a bit softer and very lifelike if softer silicone is chosen for production. Silicone allows for faces and bodies to be incredibly realistic. It's sometimes difficult to decipher if a photo of a silicone doll is an actual person or not! Firm silicone is an excellent choice for heads if you would like hyper realism due to the fact that they are more fit for realistic features such as implanted hair and eyebrows.
Ultimately it comes down to your personal preference and experience with TPE and silicone as well as your budget. As long as you understand how to properly care for your TPE or Silicone doll, she will last for many years to come regardless of which material you choose. Both materials are excellent and will provide for an enjoyable and lifelike doll.