At one time, every sex toy reviewer and blogger was new to the world of sex toys. They were dazzled and overwhelmed by the sheer options and possibilities of all the things they could use on their bodies to reach orgasm. Hell, some of them may not even have ever had their first orgasm. Needless to say, we all bumbled around bumping into this material and that figuring things out as we went. At the request of one of my readers, I’ve decided to write a post for all the other sex toy newbies out there to help guide them on their exploration of the sex toy world.
Basics and Cleaning/Care
First off, lets talk about materials. There are all kinds of materials out there and sadly, not all of them are as safe as you’d like them to be when putting them into your most intimate places. As a general rule of thumb, avoid jelly materials or anything that smells. I know…’stay away from things that smell’ seems like an obvious statement…but when you’re new, you don’t know that something isn’t supposed to have a chemical smell. This is important ***the reason that material is giving off an odor is because it is breaking down***. That’s right. It’s deteriorating right in front of you. Some materials, like jelly, can actually cause chemical burns. Here’s a list of safe materials that you can’t go wrong with:
Glass (pyrex or borosilicate work best for temperature play)
Some of these materials are a little better than others. The top three are the best. What separates materials from one another? The amount of pores the material has makes all the difference. The more porous a toy is the more bacteria can get inside causing health risks for the user. If you absolutely must use a lower quality toy material, I recommend covering it with a condom to protect yourself.
Another reason these materials are so great is that they offer better cleaning options. For example, silicone, glass (Pyrex, not soda lime), and stainless steel toys can be boiled for 3 to 5 minutes or run through a dishwasher without soap. This sterilizes these materials. You do not need to boil these materials every time you use the toy, just maybe once a month or in between orifices. These and any of the other materials listed can be cleaned with warm water and anti bacterial soap, an antibacterial toy cleaner, or a 10% bleach 90% water solution during regular use. I prefer to wash my toys before and after use, though after sometimes translates to the next day due to an orgasm-induced haze immediately following use. Keep in mind that if your silicone, glass or steel toy has a motor that cannot be removed, you shouldn’t boil it or run it through the dishwasher because it could damage the motor. You can use the same methods available for the other materials when this is the case. Most importantly, remember that you should always clean your toys between uses because regardless of how good the material is, if you don’t clean it you can still have problems. Keeping your toys clean will help prevent bacterial infections, urinary tract infections, and yeast infections…yeah, no one wants any of those.
Silicone is an awesome material, one of my favorites actually, but it is also a little bit high maintenance. One important thing you should know about silicone is that it should be stored in a way that will not allow it to come in contact with other silicone toys. The reason for this is that each company has their own silicone ‘formula’, if you will, and they vary slightly. When these different silicones touch each other, they can react to each other and cause them to deform or melt (this goes for lube, too. Only use water-based lube with silicone toys). Most of the time, a single company’s toys are fine to touch each other but I always err on the side of safety. Some easy ways to keep toys from touching is to invest in some storage bags, wrap in a bandana, keep them in original packaging, or even a Ziploc. Another slightly high maintenance thing about silicone is that some companies recommend that you store them standing up, which can be a space issue for people who toy discreetly. It also has a tendency to attract lint, hair, and dust, but storing the toys in a covered manner will help eliminate that problem. Everything else about silicone is wonderful and you really will love it if you haven’t yet tried it.
As you look at toys, you may come across several different types of silicone: medical grade silicone, silicone, TPR silicone, and TPE silicone. Medical grade silicone and items listed as just silicone are the same type of material with the same non-porous properties. Mostly, you’ll want to make sure that the product is pthlalate-free which is usually listed on the box or product description. Pthalates are basically used to soften PVC plastic and have been linked with health risks including breast cancer. You can read more about pthalates here. TPR and TPE are different types of silicone compounds that are a bit more porous than silicone but are better than jellies or cyberskin type products.
For some additional information on silicone, check out Dangerous Lilly’s, blogger/reviewer and editor of e-lust, awesome interview with Tantus’ Metis Black. She asks some great questions and Metis really knows her stuff! You can read the interview here.
Those are the basics of materials and how to clean them. It may seem a bit overwhelming at first, so to help you along I’m going to list some toy box ‘staples’. These are all toys made with great materials that will help give you a nice rounded collection of toys to get started. But first, some basic definitions.
Main types of Vibrators:
Traditional– Traditional vibrators are usually phallic-shaped vibrators that range in size and shape. They can be hard and smooth plastic, silicone, or a more textured type surface. Depending on the materials, quality, and vibration settings, the price can vary greatly. These vibrators are ideal for insertion and can be used for clitoral stimulation as well. A few of my favorite traditional vibrators are the Fun Factory Angelo which is a silicone, rechargeable vibrator that is waterproof and offers multiple powers and vibration patterns as well as travel locking keys. My review here and the Evolved Roulette All on Red which is a battery powered, silicone, waterproof vibrator. This is about twice the size of the Fun Factory Angelo and only offers steady vibrations but in multiple strengths. My review here.
Dual Action– Dual action vibrators are designed to be used for insertion and clitoral stimulation at the same time. They have a built in arm that reaches up to hit your clitoris while you use it. The most famous of this type of vibe is the Rabbit Habbit, named for the rabbit ears on the clitoral arm. There are many versions of the rabbit vibrator, most with rotating beads of some sort in the shaft. A good non-animal themed dual action vibrator is the LELO Ina.
Clitoral Vibrators– Clitoral vibrators are smaller vibrators designed specifically for stimulating the clit. This includes bullets, eggs and pocket rockets. Basically, if you need direct clitoral stimulation to get off, this is a vibe you will want. You can use them alone, with other toys, or with a partner. My current favorite clitoral vibe is the Pin-up Vibe which has 3 vibration strengths, comes in 3 colors, and has a cute storage case (reviewed here). A close second is the Tantus Little Secret- Spoon This is a bullet vibe with a fun bright orange silicone sleeve. It has one vibration setting and runs on batteries. My review here.
If power is what you need, then the Hitachi Magic Wand may be the vibrator for you. It isn’t small like other traditional clitoral vibes, but is meant for external stimulation. This is a power house classic! The Hitachi plugs into an outlet and has a nice long cord and will knock your socks off. It only has 2 vibration strengths, but you’ll likely only need the low one. My review here.
Want a rechargeable clit vibrator? Epiphora, another reviewer (and entertaining as hell), recommends the LELO Mia which has 3 pulse settings and a travel lock.
G-spot Vibrators– G-spot vibrators are vibrators that are designed to stimulate the g-spot during insertion. They typically have a curve or bulbous area on them to rub against the g-spot. One option for a g-spot vibrator is the Pretty Pearl G-spot vibrator. It has 3 vibration settings and is firm to allow for more pressure on the g-spot. My Review here. A more luxury version of a g-spot vibrator is the LELO Gigi, which is rechargeable and has multiple settings.
One thing that you might not consider as you first start to explore the world of sex toys is rechargeable vs. battery powered. The sex toy world has come a long way in offering a toy that is both rechargeable and powerful. If you can afford it, I say go for the rechargeable toy because it will save you money and frustration in the long run. There’s nothing like finding dead batteries in your vibrator and realizing you’re all out. You will steal from the remote control…it will happen.
Dildos come in all kinds of materials, shapes, and sizes. The most important consideration when deciding what dildo you want is size. In my opinion, dildos are the toy you want to use when you want to feel fucked. It isn’t a toy you’re going to use externally, though some have reservoirs to hold a bullet vibe. If you aren’t sure what size of a dildo you want but know the size of a partner’s penis that you enjoyed, that’s an easy way to pick your first dildo. Once you’ve tried one, you’ll know if you want to go up or down a size or if you were dead on in your first pick. Here are the different types of Dildos and some of my favorites and a few favorites of others who’s opinions I respect:
Realistic– These are dildos that resemble the real thing. They are dildos that look like real cocks and come in flesh tones. My current favorite realistic dildos are the Vixen Creations Leo which comes in colors other than flesh tones and has a delicious curve to the shaft (review here), the Tantus Cush O2 which is not 100% realistic but is dual density (solid core with softer outer layer) and feels more realistic (my review here and TruePleasures review here), and the Vixen Creations Maverick. The Vixen Creations Maverick is the biggest of the three and definitely one I love, love, love and recommend. But I do love a girthy toy. It is also a dual density toy, so it feels even more realistic than regular silicone toys. A smaller similar dual density dildo from Vixen Creations and recommended by Epiphora is the Vixen Creations Mustang, in case you aren’t up for a bigger toy but like the dual density idea. I’m also a fan of Vamp silicone dildos, carried by SheVibe.com.
Non-Realistic This category basically encompasses everything else out there dildo-wise. The ultimate non-realistic dildo that has its own following is the Njoy Pure Wand which is a magically curved stainless steel wand. It is heavy and beautiful and makes orgasms sooo good. Here is my review, Epiphora’s review, and Pixel’s review. The Galaxy G is similarly shaped to the Pure Wand but has more bulbs. It is made of clear acrylic so it is very light weight which makes it easier to travel with than the Pure Wand. My review of the Galaxy G is here. A silicone option in the non-realistic category is the Rippler from Good Vibrations. This is a twisty, highly texturized dildo that is firm and harness compatible (my review here, TruePleasures here, Pixel’s here, and Sugarcunt’s here). And, of course, there are glass dildos as well. My current favorite is the Candy Colored Glass Dildo which is reviewed here.
There is one other sub-category in ‘non-realistic’ dildos and that is double ended dildos. These can range from the classic straight double dildo (watch out on materials on these, as they tend to be more available in jellies) to the wearable harnessless strap on. The straight double dildos can also come in glass like Simply Blown’s Siamese. This category can also include any smaller dildo that has two useable ends.
Anal Toys– Anal toys include dildos, plugs, and beads. The most important thing to remember with anal toys is that flared bases are a must. If your toy doesn’t have a flared base, don’t put it in your butt. Anal beads usually have a ring of some type that you can put your finger through, though I’m not familiar with anal beads. The reason you need that flared base is because the muscles in your anus naturally want to pull toys in and then they can be lodged inside…which will require an uncomfortable (in more ways than one) trip to the emergency room.
Plugs come in a lot of different shapes and sizes. If you’re just starting out in anal play, you will want to start with smaller toys. And lube, lots of lube. Be sure to warm up and take your time! If you want to read up on it first, I recommend checking out Tristan Taormino’s Ultimate Guide to Anal Sex reviewed here.
Ok, on to the toys! Some great beginner anal toys are the Fun Factory Bootie reviewed by Ruffled Sheets here and Epiphora here and the LELO Bob reviewed by Ruffled Sheets here. Once you’re ready to move up to a little bit more of a challenge, you can try the Tantus Ryder which comes in lots of fun colors. My review of the Tantus Ryder is here and a review by Epiphora here. Plugs don’t just come in silicone though, there are also wood and metal plugs. Ruffled Sheets recommends the small Pure Plug to begin with. Read his review here.
Plugs aren’t the only toys you can use anally. Dildos can also be fun. My favorite dildo to use for anal play is the Tantus Acute. Vaginally, I found the Acute to be a bit underwhelming but it is perfect for anal! It especially works well when coupled with a vibrator for clitoral or vaginal stimulation. My review of the Acute is here. So what else is there? Double penetration! The Tantus Flex is a toy that provides both a shaft for the vagina and an arm for anal, so you can get doubly stimulated. This one is a lot of fun and something a little different. You can read my review here.
Any reviewer worth their salt will tell you that lube is important to have on hand. I have no problems getting aroused but I still use lube most of the time. It isn’t about arousal, its about making sure you get the most out of your toy and your experience. I personally prefer water-based lubricants because I use a lot of silicone toys (remember silicone + silicone= damage). You can choose whichever works best for your needs. The things to avoid in lubricants are parabens, which have been linked with causing cancer, and glycerine, which is basically sugar and can cause yeast infections. Vaginas have a delicate environment that can be disrupted easily, so help yourself out and avoid these things. Guys, yeast infections may not effect you for solo or anal play but parabens should be a no-go for you too. My favorite lube brands are listed below:
Sliquid- Their Sassy Booty formula is my favorite lube overall. It is nice and thick, paraben and glycerine free, and vegan.
System JO- I love the System JO H2O, especially for anal sex. It isn’t as thick as Sliquid’s Sassy Booty and it does contain glycerine. I have never had a problem using it vaginally as well, but if you have a sensitive vag, you may want to avoid this one. I also have their silicone lube and it works great as well, I just don’t have as many chances to use it.
Blossom Organics- Their Natural Moisturizing Lubricant is also a hit. It lasts a long time, has no parabens or glycerine, and no taste or odor.
Pleasurists– Every week, reviewers submit their review links to the Pleasurists website. Scarlet Lotus St. Cyr then compiles all the links and creates an edition for the week. This has everything from reviews of toys to lube to lingerie to porn, pretty much anything sex related that can be reviewed, as well as links to the current giveaways on different blogs. It can be great resource to finding to information and new blogs to follow.
Hey Epiphora– This is where it all started for me. I was looking for a replacement for a broken vibrator and in my search for review of vibrators, I stumbled onto a site that has changed my life. I know, that sounds dramatic, but it is true! I had no idea there was this whole world of sex toy reviewing going on without me and soon after discovering her blog I started reviewing too. What you’ll find on her site is honest, no holds barred
reviews judgements. Her new slogan ‘Where sex toys go to be judged’ says it all. On top of being informative, she’s also very entertaining. She also has a nice long list of other blogs she reads that are worth checking out.
Ruffled Sheets– Toy reviews from a male perspective are hard to find. Ruffled Sheets is your guy! He has reviews up on masturbaters, plugs, chastity devices and more. And on top of that he is super friendly and always willing to share pictures of his latest underwear.
Good Vibrations– Not only do they carry a great selection of toys and more, they are all about educating. They have all kinds of guides on their site. You can find info on just about anything in their guides section.
True Pleasures– True Pleasures does reviews on just about everything sex toy related. She also posts all the sales and promotions going each week. For those of you who are Furries, she has the best collection of fantasy dildo reviews I’ve seen, including many products from Bad Dragon.
EdenFantasys– Their site has a large number of reviews available for many products. They also have a decent material guide that can be helpful when determining the safety of materials.
Pixelated Toys– Pixel tends towards some of the kinkier things in the sex toy world. You can find reviews of all kinds of products on her blog as well as some great pictures for ‘Wanton Wednesday’.
– Sugarcunt is an entertaining reviewer who embraces being plus-sized AND sexy. In her own words she is ‘Interested in gender, sex-positivity, feminism, queer activism, body-positivity, and fat acceptance.’
Dangerous Lilly– Dangerous Lilly writes interviews, reviews, blogger help tools, has pictures, erotica and more on her blog This Could Be Dangerous…. She also is an editor of e-lust and organizer of Wanton Wednesday. She is a font of information on anything blogger related.
Shops I Trust
All of the companies below are ones that I work with and trust. They all have fast and discreet shipping, so there is now worry about your mailman or neighbors knowing what you ordered.
Babeland– A sex-positive store that has a great selection of toys. They have some brick and mortar shops as well and the environment is relaxed and open. I was in the Seattle one not too long ago and heard an older woman asking a sales associate about a strap-on and how it works as easily as if she were asking the time of day. It was refreshing after some of the places I’ve been in!
Crystal Delights– They make some of the most beautiful glass toys! They have plugs, dildos, and paddles. They come customizable with the gem of your choice (in most cases). And Shellie, the owner, is amazingly friendly! Here are a few reviews of their products: Ruffled Sheets: Regular Plug here, Epiphora: Crystal Twist here.
Early2Bed– A Chicago store that I hope to visit sometime in the future, Early2Bed offers a great selection of toys, great service, and a fun attitude. Searah, the owner, is very friendly and has a hilarious blog featuring screwy and weird sex toys she encounters in her job.
Funwares– Another great company with a wide selection of toys. Their staff is full of friendly people who love to chat. They have some of the lowest prices around too.
Good Vibrations– The fist store I ever ordered online from when I was 18 and I’m still a fan of them! The box was discreet 10 years ago and they still are today! Good Vibes is all about education and enjoyment, so if you have a question about anything you should check their site. And if it isn’t there, someone from Good Vibes can probably answer your question.
Maui Kink– Exotic kink is their specialty! I’ve gotten some lovely dyed rope from them, which I love. They carry all kinds of customizable items such as paddles, canes, and whips. I’ve long lusted after their paddles, take a look and you’ll see why!
SheVibe– SheVibe is a fun company with great prices on their products. They are the only company that I work with that carries the Vamp Silicone line, which is a bonus to their friendly and fast service. Their site is very unique and fun to check out as well.
Stockroom– This is your stop for all things kinky! They have a little bit of everything, nearly always have a sale going on, and keep your kink under wraps. No one will know that you ordered leather cuffs, a whip, and a ball gag..or whatever else you choose. They also carry fetish items, so check ’em out.
Tabu Toys– Another great option for a great selection of toys! Tabu Toys has always been fast and discreet in their shipping.
Tantus They are one of my favorite toy makers, easily. They are always coming out with new toys and in fun new colors. Their products are all made from high grade materials and they are fun to talk to as well.
This is by no means a complete list, but definitely enough to get you started. Feel free to click on any of my banners on the right side. A note about clicking links: Most of my links are affiliate links, which means that if you buy something that I will get a commission from that sale. Most reviewers have these kind of links. If you want to support a reviewer (not just me, ANY reviewer) please do so by using their links. First, clear your internet cookies/history, then click on the link or banner and proceed from there. We all appreciate the support of our readers!
Well, that’s it! I’m sure I’ve left some stuff out, so please feel free to ask questions. Other reviewers, if you have some suggestions or input for newbies, feel free to post it or email me at bzzingbee7 AT gmail dot com and I may add it to the post!
Thanks to my wonderful friend J&K for their inspiration, input, and help revising this beast of a post!!