Walking into a sex shop or browsing online can introduce you to an endless stream of vibrators, dildos, clit-suckers, and more products designed to make you orgasm. With such a variety out there, it can be daunting to determine which toy is right for you — especially if you’ve never bought one before.
What should you look for when buying a sex toy? We reached out to experts for their insight on what to add to the cart next.
Where to buy a sex toy
Don’t worry if you’re a newbie, said Dr. Nikki Coleman, licensed psychologist and relationship expert. It can take a while to find a toy just right for you.
Both in-person and online shops have advantages when it comes to your search. One benefit of the former is receiving personalized suggestions from a salesperson.
On the other hand, the internet offers easy access to a huge array of reviews and lists. If you want to research inexpensive sex toy options or just find out what’s the best of the best, for example, you can locate choices with one google search. If you find yourself overwhelmed by this wealth of knowledge, though, taking it IRL (COVID-permitting) is probably your best bet.
Not all shops are created equal. Purchasing from third-party stores like Amazon or Pleasurepoint doesn’t guarantee an authentic product. Considering that the toy will be in or around your genitals, it’s imperative to make sure it’s legit.
“You want to buy a vibrator made from the right material, from people who know everything there is to know about these products,” said Gigi Engle, ACS, sex expert at Feeld and author of All the F*cking Mistakes: A Guide to Sex, Love, and Life.
Buy directly from trusted retailers or the sex toy manufacturer itself. Engle suggested checking out sex-positive, women-run boutiques like Babeland, Please, Good Vibrations, and Unbound, all of which have online stores. These sellers aren’t just women-founded; their employees are queer-friendly and knowledgeable about sex education as well.
Once you figure out what toy you want — say the Maude vibe, a sleek toy for $45, or LELO’s Sona 2 Cruise, an elegant suction vibrator — you can also buy directly from the company’s website.
What to consider when purchasing a sex toy
Figure out your budget, but don’t let the price tags deter you, Coleman said. There are high-quality yet affordable toys out there. Mashable’s Jess Joho listed her favorite budget picks, including Plus One’s $10 vibrating bullet and the aforementioned Maude vibe, all for under $50.
Materials are another important factor to consider. For vibrators, look for medical-grade silicone and/or ABS plastic, which is non-porous and thus easy to sanitize. Internal toys can be made of those materials as well, or of other body-safe options, like glass or stainless steel.
What the toy is made of also determines how to care for it. For example, silicone lube will degrade silicone toys, so you must use water-based or oil-based lube. The product manual or online listing usually lets you know what type is best.
Ask yourself some questions to drill down what type of toy you’re after:
- Will this be for solo play, partnered play, or both? Some toys advertise whether they can be enjoyed by two people at once.
- Are you going to use it in the bath or shower? Hunt for a submersible toy, not just water-resistant. Search for phrases like “water submersible,” “completely waterproof,” or “bathtub safe.”
- Are you going to travel with this toy? Find one with a travel lock function so it doesn’t accidentally turn on while in airport security.
- Do you want a toy that’s USB chargeable or battery-powered? Corded or cordless? Think about which would be the most convenient for you. I recommend USB, because nothing is worse than having a dead vibrator and no batteries around.
Perhaps most importantly, determine what sensations you want out of a toy. “Vibrators are complicated pieces of equipment,” said Engle, and not all vibes are alike. Do you want:
- Pinpointed clit stimulation? You may want a smaller vibrator (or something like the dental flosser-looking Zumio, which wasn’t my personal favorite, but you can’t beat it for targeted stimulation).
- Less-targeted clit stimulation? A wand vibrator may be a good fit for you.
- Suction over rumbles? Try a clit-sucker.
- Dual internal and external stimulation? A “bunny” vibrator/dildo combo like LELO’s Soraya Wave will do the trick.
Or, you may not want vibration at all. There are plenty of toys, like dildos or anal beads, that prioritize internal pleasure without a motor. For these toys, consider girth, Coleman said. Check out toy dimensions before purchasing to make sure you’ll feel comfortable using it. If you want a refund or exchange, or to return the toy, check with the store or site policy.
Don’t feel pressure to find the “perfect” toy, Coleman advised. Instead, think about it as starting your collection. With every purchase, you’ll learn something about your preferences. By asking yourself a few questions and being mindful about where you shop, you can pick a toy you’ll love from the crowded market.