Everything You Need to Know Before Buying A New Vibrator

Sure, it's gotta buzz...but there's way more to it.


Jessica Migala |

Shopping for sex toys can be a lot like online dating: awkward, overwhelming, and a challenge that calls for separating the high-quality options from the duds. What’s the difference between remote-controlled and manually operated? Does vibration pattern matter? And for goodness sake, does it actually have to look like a penis?

“Like any other luxury product, a sex-toy purchase should be well thought out, because when you invest in a sex toy, you’re investing in personal pleasure,” says Kathryn Catney, who represents the Swedish sex toy brand Lelo. It’s self-care at its finest.

Before shopping, think about what you want from your new toy. It’s the only way you can guarantee it’ll live up to its buzz. Now’s the time to decide whether you want to take a good look at your vibrator in-store or make the purchase online, which materials you prefer, and how much you want to spend.

There’s a lot to consider, but don’t worry, you’re not in this alone. Below is a handy expert-approved guide packed with all the must-know info that will turn you into a vibrator pro.

1. Consider size.

With options including large wand-like vibrators and discreet ones that fit in the palm of your hand out there, it can be tough to anticipate which size is going to bring you the most pleasure if you’re a first-timer. “There’s so much to choose from,” says Dr Holly Richmond, a somatic psychologist and certified sex therapist. “When we have so many choices, we get overwhelmed and feeling overwhelmed leads to anxiety — the exact opposite of pleasure.” But don’t fret — Richmond’s got the solution.

Consider what you enjoy most when you masturbate and have sex, she suggests. If pleasuring yourself with one finger does the trick, a large or penis-looking vibrator might pack a little too much punch or stimulate way too many areas at once. On the other hand, if your partner is well-endowed or if the strap-on you use during sex isn’t lacking size-wise, bigger just might be better. And if the urge to O tends to suddenly come over you, you might opt for a tiny-but-mighty toy you can disguise as a necklace and whip out in a bathroom for an afternoon delight. (Hey, who’s judging?)

READ MORE: “I Have Almost 20 Sex Toys In My Cupboard — Here Are The Three I Always Use”

2. Narrow down your ideal shape and sensation.

Once you’ve settled on width and length, bring size and sensation into the equation. Zeroing in the sensation you want will help determine the best shape for your vibrator.

There are five types of pleasure sensations people tend to seek out, says Richmond: internal, clitoral, an internal-clitoral combo, anal, and double penetration (vaginal + anal). And since the minds behind vibrators know pleasure comes from many a locale, they’ve created tons of uniquely shaped toys that can adapt to just about anything you’re looking for.

If you’re unsure about which works for you, take another minute to think about how you typically self-pleasure: Are you focusing on the clitoris, vaginal penetration, or both? Do you enjoy intense and localized sensations, or do you prefer sensations spread around the vulva? Do you self-pleasure the same way every time, or do you need something that can perform in a variety ways?

Based on what makes your whole body quake, scope out vibrators that will address your sexual needs. I’m talking curved dual-action toys that speak to both the clitoris and penetration, ones meant to pleasure the anus and only the anus, and those that are all about internal vaginal stimulation.

If you really have no idea what to go for, pick an internal toy. “Even if you don’t intend to use it internally,” says Catney, “internal massagers can be just as effectively used externally, so in the end, you’ll still have a versatile vibrator.”

3. Start shopping.

Once you’re ready to take the plunge, you have two options: Visit an actual store or buy online.

The perks of heading to a store are that you can test the vibrations and see the toy up close. “At the shops, you get to learn about different styles that you may not have considered and discover entirely new ways of pleasuring yourself.” says Claire Cavanah, founder of Babeland (which has brick-and-mortar stores in NYC and Seattle).

However, if the thought of onlookers brings on the nerves, go ahead and add the toys to your online cart instead. There’s no shame in being a bit shy, choosing to take your time to research options, or, heck, overnighting a vibrator because you’re pressed for time. And don’t worry about nosy neighbours or roommates, either — retailers these days ship items in super-plain and unidentifiable packaging.

READ MORE: Are Crystal Dildos Safe For Your Vagina?

4. Look closely at material and texture.

It’s essential to check out at what a sex toy is made of before buying it. The vibrator is going in and on your body, after all.

“Silicone is a favourite, and many well-known brands use only medical-grade silicone,” says Cavanah. Silicone “transmits vibration well and it’s non-porous [meaning no toxic materials will get trapped inside and make their way into your body] and easy to clean with soap and water, making it healthy and safe for the body.” Other great options include metal, stainless steel, and hard plastic, adds Richmond.

What you definitely want to avoid are jelly-feeling rubber toys. There aren’t many out there anymore since it turned out many contained harmful phthalates, which are banned for use in children’s products but unregulated in bedroom toys, says Cavanah.

Paired with what your vibrator’s made of is what it feels like, says Richmond. For more stimulation, go for a toy that’s ribbed or bumpy. Or bring a little temperature play into the mix by pleasuring yourself with a toy made of cool metal. If metal’s not your thing, just slather on some cooling or warming water-based lube (using silicone-based lube on a silicone vibrator will tarnish it).

5. Make sure you like its look.

No matter how powerful the vibrator is, it would be a huge mistake to buy something you think looks scary, garish, or aesthetically unappealing. Catney says the aesthetics of a vibrator are almost as important as what it does — after all, this is something you’re using to get turned on. So skip that hot pink vibe unless you absolutely love the way it shines in your nightstand.

“Pick the one that tickles that sexy part of your imagination,” says Cavanah. “Desire and aesthetic are deeply personal and entwined, so pick the vibrator or vibrators that speak to you.” For example, if you prefer small and sleek over big and bulky, a bullet vibrator might be the way to go.

6. Listen to its buzz.

Now, onto the really good stuff — the actual vibrations.

Most vibrators have tons of settings that allow you to manipulate vibration patterns, speed, and intensity so you can ramp up or slow down as you please. Figuring out which vibrations and patterns get you going, says Richmond, calls for some trial and error. The more you use your vibrator, the better you’ll get at sensing what really does it for you. So, go at it, girl.

If you’ve got thin walls, then it’s worthwhile to find a vibe that won’t sound like a chainsaw every time you use it. Sometimes, the noise level will correlate with the intensity or power of the vibrator, but with high-end products, that won’t be as much of an issue.

“Most of us prefer a quiet vibe, and spending a little extra money will ensure your new sex toy is made from the quality materials that help dampen noise,” said Catney. One way to find a quiet-but-powerful tool is to hunt down materials that muffle sound. “Silicone is great for this.”

If you’re worried that a quiet vibe will compromise the intensity of the sensations, Cavanah recommends testing the vibrator on your hand—or on the tip of your nose (since the skin there’s pretty sensitive) if you’re buying in-store to see how it feels.

READ MORE: 5 Classic Toys Every Woman Should Own, According To A Sex Editor

7. Familiarize yourself with all the bells and whistles out there.

The spectrum of features is endless, I’m talking waterproof toys, ones capable of vibration and suction sensations, those that are remote operated, and some that sync with your fave playlist and vibrate to the beat.

The best move, according to Cavanah is to choose a vibrator with a range of features. “This way you can more easily customize it to your mood and the situation. Some days, you might want to use it for foreplay only, and other days, you might want it to take you there. The more range it has, the more easily you can adapt it into your sex life.”

Deciding which special effects you want is totally personal — and up to your budget — but you can always start with something pretty simple and upgrade later.

8. Establish your budget.

Speaking of budgets…

You can find inexpensive, simple vibrators and for a pretty penny, you could ball out for a gold-plated experience.

If you decide you’d like to invest more in your pleasure, says Richmond, consider shelling out a bit more for vibrators that have cooler features (like easy on/off buttons, extensive vibration options, multiple attachments) and a longer life.

READ MORE: 3 Things You NEED To Do After Using a Sex Toy

9. Stock up on cleaning supplies.

Since rubbing your vibrator down with a bleached wipe and inserting it into yourself is a one-way ticket to irritation, or worse, infection, when it comes to cleaning your device, stick to gentle body soap (nothing antibacterial) and water. It will always do the trick.

And if you want to take cleansing up a notch, you can go for a specialized sex-toy cleaner. Most are alcohol-free and paraben-free sprays that you can leave on your vibrator for five minutes and rinse off (if it’s waterproof — otherwise, use a damp cloth), says Richmond. Be sure to clean your toy after every use, she adds.

10. Pick a storage spot.

Classic spots include your nightstand, your underwear or lingerie drawer, says Richmond. But a bathroom drawer or your device’s carrying case works just fine, too. Just make sure to keep your vibrator out of areas that may have oils, powders, and perfumes around, Richmond warns, so that your vibrator won’t pick up any irritants that can end up in your body, damage your device, or both.

You spent money on that ish…now put it to good (and I mean, REALLY good) use.

This article was originally published on www.womenshealthmag.com 

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