Dec 312015
 

The Best Sex Toys of 2015 (and the worst, too) - Featuring the L'amourose Denia and Prism V, Womanizer, Doxy Skittle, Tails and Portholes Nereid Hot Octopuss Pulse Solo, Fun Factory Patchy Paul G5, Doc Johnson Truskyn, We-Vibe Rave. THE BEST SEX TOYS OF 2015

I actually reviewed LESS this year than I thought I did. I blame it on buying a house and moving. I’ll do better in 2016. So I had to be picky about the things on my list and really only pick things I LOVED for the Best Sex Toys of 2015. Bonus this year: Video!1Things I pick up and use again, and again and mourn when they run out of charge. The L’amourose Denia is one of those, despite it being a dual-stimulation vibrator. I usually hate those! But the flex technology that some hate, I actually love. It made the thing so much more comfortable and fit me like a gorgeous, rumbly glove. The L’amourose Prism V is another one for the records. Powerful and rumbly (better than Mona 2 or Uma) and with a perfect head, the likes of which I haven’t seen since the Pure Wand. My g-spot likes the Prism V that much, y’all. Despite my lack of real review yet (does the video pre-review count? It’s gonna have to) the Womanizer is on the list. I agonized over it, but hey….it’s niiiice. With the Pure Wand in tandem it’s even nicer. My husband is all about that Hot Octopuss Pulse Solo, it’s probably like his version of L’amourose – powerful, rumbly and unique. Of course there’s the Doxy Skittle, that baffling little bastard, I like a LOT. Finally, this dildo from Tails and Portholes over at Etsy. Custom made to whatever color combos your heart desires, and it’s a soft silicone, too! Please, check her out. The only tough thing will be making a decision on your colors!

Best Thing That Wasn’t a Sex Toy:  Stealing this idea from JoEllenWoodhull’s Sexual Freedom Summit. I wrote a love letter, basically, so just read that if you hadn’t already. It’s hands-down the best sexuality conference I’ve ever been to. Kudos to Ricci Levy, The Board, and the Volunteers for making it so amazing. The little tidbits I am hearing about the 2016 Summit are making me so excited because it’s going to be even better, if that’s possible. Yes, my mention of the Summit in my video reduced me to tears. You didn’t think I was such a sap, did ya?

Honorable Mention: The Fun Factory Patchy Paul G5. I love the vibrations and feel that their G5 line is finally powerful enough for me to rave about. I appreciate the flexible body because not everyone likes a rigid vibrator.

Let’s Keep an Eye on These for Next Year: AKA More Testing Necessary: First up is the We-Vibe Rave. It arrived on my doorstep Wednesday and while I’m super impressed by the power and the weird, assymetrical  design (which works as they say it will) the motor on mine is possessed. It shuts off randomly and then turns back on randomly; it’s done this twice, so it’s not for lack of a good charge. I have a feeling I’m really going to enjoy it but I need a functioning model before I can really lay down any promises. Next up is the Doc Johnson TruSkyn. Really, the whole line, but I have this one. I’m impressed by the dual density for an affordable price and impressed by the mix of realistic + non-realistic and even dual density butt plugs! But since so many are (rightfully so) skeptical about Doc Johnson (we’re not gonna ease up on you, Doc, til you banish that fuckin sil-a-gel shit), I need to test it. And that includes cutting it in half after I’m done using it to report back on the in-use feel. Too many are worried that it’s not truly solid silicone, so we’ll see!

THE WORST SEX TOYS OF 2015

The Jimmyjane Hello Touch X is my least-hated on the list, but it’s still on my shit list. Their unsafe, lack of educational instructions on how to properly use e-stim pissed me off and to boot the vibrations and shocks weren’t even very nice to use. The Dame Eva failed 4 out of 4 vulvas in my trials, and really ended up pissing me off with their claims of a powerful motor and the ability to stay put during sex. The Lovehoney Rockbox Finger is an atrocity that would only make sense as an April Fool’s joke. Fucking shameful waste of resources and other people’s money. Another controversial vibrator on the list is the Lelo Mona Wave. While I think I’ve read more negative reviews than positive,  a few really liked it. I found it boring, useless and overpriced. And finally, the Ooh by Je Joue. The whole collection, really. The Classic and Cock Ring were much worse fails than the mini thing that looked a lot like the Mimi but I hate the line overall because they didn’t try hard enough to make sure that every shape was going to live up to its full potential. The person who thought that the design of the Classic was actually worth selling should be slapped.

The Worst Marketing of 2015: This isn’t something that I mentioned in the video because I feared I would get too emotional and too enraged for words that human ears can hear. The Fifi is a cheap, crappy male masturbator sleeve that some bloggers agreed to review before checking out their social media. Admittedly, it’s not something we’d ever considered before – vetting out a company. But it has to be done. They had fat-shaming tweets, sexist tweets, racist tweets, sex-negative tweets, etc all written by the world’s biggest douchebro. There wasn’t a single meme that was as funny as they thought it was. It was horrifying and shameful. It was HURTFUL. I was in a lot of rage for a lot of days. I didn’t write about it on the blog (just a lot of tweets); but I did get to say a little bit of my piece when the company’s newest rep tried to contact me to review their shit product.

Runners-up in the Worst Marketing of 2015: Fleshlight and their new #nohojo marketing. Because yes, let’s follow Fifi in their technique-shaming approach to get people to buy a Fleshlight. They used to be a decent company so I don’t know what the hell happened. In the world of penetration masturbators and sleeves, Tenga is King Brand. Then there was that fucking “vagina beauty contest” which made me want to throw things because hello, disgusting and sexist and also: NOT A VAGINA.  I love how this article about the winners was all “oh we thought this would be a body-pos thing”! Um…..*cocks head* No.

 

I admit, for the first part of 2015 life was stressful. I spent the first few weeks agonizing if we would find a house in time (so that we wouldn’t have to sign another year of a rental lease) and then we found one and I spent 3 months dealing with the seller/selling agent from HELL. It was one of the most stressful times in our lives thus far. Then we got the house! Then the move. And it was all such a big deal for us, our first house, that I didn’t realize how much of my time it would suck up. It’s not the first time we’ve moved since I’ve started blogging, but this time it derailed me for months. My blog traffic had been extraordinarily high right up until the time we moved and then I had to back off from everything – social media, Reddit, writing, etc. So now I’m working to get back what I lost with the blog, and the crash hit my mental health took – turns out months of endless extreme anxiety followed by a briefly manic happy period then crash slowly into a depression. Who knew. There’s been a lot of mental health work in our house and one of us is working on getting on better meds while the other is just hoping a job change and focusing on her blog will be enough. Ahem.

For 2016 I’m not making resolutions, I’m making plans and wishes.  Blog profits are up, my mood is overall better and I attended the best sexuality conference of my life this year with concrete plans to attend in 2016. No more hoping that the timing is just right; I plan to do everything in my power to attend Woodhull’s conference. Wild horses couldn’t keep me away!

I have so many plans one would think I came up with the list on a manic high from a good mood swing, but no. It’s all been a long time coming. I want to redesign my blog header to incorporate my beautiful SheVibe drawing. I want to create a Library page where I pick and choose certain educational DVDs and books to recommend to you all. I definitely want to write and review more frequently. I plan to do the occasional video more; I’ve been told it makes me seem less angry/less scary and more human. I’m trying to go back to showing more of my humanity and realness here and on social media. The Great Glass Test post is coming along. The Lube Page is also nearly finished. While I still want to test brand new sex toys, I also want to focus on reviewing more affordable sex toys in the hopes I can find some great items under $50, or around it.  And of course all throughout 2016 I’m giving away gift cards to my newsletter subscribers – at least $100 worth of cards every single month ($50 to Crystal Delights, $50 to Shevibe and then usually a third card).

Personally, this year I need to focus on my health; losing weight, getting into a shape that isn’t “round” and taking care of my gallbladder. I tried to avoid it but I am going to have my gallbladder removed sometime in the next few months. It will be a big blow financially (insurance, yes, but a high deductible). We’ll also have a lot on our plate this spring at the house; the landscaping is a nightmare thanks to the terrible things the “flippers” did to the property and we want the place to look nice! I want a garden! I also need to escape the job I have right now and get into something where I don’t have a coworker who is a racist bigoted infuriating nightmare of a person.

What are your plans for 2016?

  1. My second video, and of course it was as stressful as the first one. I apparently, finally, have so much crap on my phone that I ran out of storage space! The first few video attempts had weird lag, and then would cut me off. Finally I saw the brief notification “SD card full”. Well, crap. My final attempt is what you see above, no edits. It’s raw, I’m weird, I cried, I rambled, I made funny faces. *shrugs* That’s just how I am. If I tried to make a perfectly polished professional video then you’d never see one at all! I hope you can accept this video as-is; these won’t happen often, and maybe I’ll get better at them but I’m trying to convey more….emotion, I guess, than what you can get in just words.
 Posted by at 6:20 pm
Jun 082015
 

35 affordable sex toys under $35Newly added affordable sex toys – now updated for 2018!

One of the perks of being a sex toy reviewer is that often we are handed vibrators and dildos to review that we normally would not be able to afford purchasing on our own. I can assure you that I would never have been able to allocate the funds for the Lelo Smart Wand Large, the L’Amourose Rosa Rouge, and so on. Many others are in the same boat. And so they start out with affordable sex toys that may be porous, badly made, or single-use. Worse yet, folks may buy one of those kits from the bigger corps like DocJ and CalEx, the kits with porous anal beads and iffy vibrators and lube samples that may give you a yeast infection. Instead of buying a cheap kit take a look at the items below.

But we can’t ignore those with budgets. The folks who might normally just buy a PVC nightmare that will arrive smelling up the room and possibly give them a chemical burn in the worst possible place. I need these folks to know that they deserve safe, quality and affordable sex toys on their budget. I made myself a mission one day a few months ago; to comb through the Shevibe catalog and find “25 for $25 and under”. But honestly? That was hard to do. So I had to up the ante to $35. If you are in the US and get Shevibe’s cheapest shipping which is $5.95, then you can buy yourself a SAFE, non-porous sex toy for $40 or under, shipped.  Note: When I talk about “body-safe” I don’t merely mean toys that claim to be non-toxic. Body-safe sex toys are non-porous. Porosity has long been an overlooked issue.

I’m not promising that all of the affordable sex toys, particularly the vibrators, will rock your world. Especially when it comes to vibrators, you get what you pay for. I tried to avoid picking very many “mild” vibrators but some of these may be louder than you can tolerate. They may not last long. You’re here for a reason, though, and whatever your reason, these 35 affordable sex toys under $35 are all non-porous and range from decent to great 1.

What I also want to show you is that you can find safe, non-porous affordable sex toys under $35 without resorting to the gamble that is buying sex toys from Amazon – a place I really want you to avoid.

Vibrators Under $35

I thought that this would be the toughest category of affordable sex toys to flesh out, but things are actually improving! I could not find an affordable dual stimulation (rabbit vibrator) that I could include on this list in good conscience

  1. $9.99 gets you very commendable power and decent rumble in the Blush Gaia Eco. Simple but effective!
  2. Pocket Rockets are usually fairly powerful, one-battery wonders. I once loved one! Try the Water Dancer
  3. While I’m not a fan, overall, of the Satisfyer line I do think the affordable Satisfyer 1 is worth trying to see if you like this style.
  4. The hard plastic Cloud 9 G-spot vibe is noisy, as to be expected, but reports say the vibrations are more rumbly!
  5. Screaming O’s Charged Vooom is impressively strong and more rumbly than buzzy. I hate the company so hate recommending this and will try to find better.
  6. I read a few good reviews for the Aria Hue G and hope to try it, soon
  7. I’ve got two OVO recommendations for you. Their D2 impressed me well enough in person in vibrations and style, it’s best for external play.
  8. The OVO F10 is not the best shape but the vibrations are decent.
  9. Another little bullet to consider is the VeDo Bam – strong, but it has a few quirks
  10. The Fun Factory Jazzie is very moderate on vibrations & has one speed, but has a nice shape.
  11. And finally, the Doc Johnson Black Magic Bullet packs a very nice, rumbly punch for the price – the corded style needs extra attention to last you more than a few months and I don’t recommend it for internal use, but it’s a bullet vibe that kept me quite happy for awhile until I found the We-Vibe Tango.

Dildos Under $35

Again, once I upped the price cap from $25 to $35, things became so much easier. I went from struggling to find anything non-porous to recommend, to having more than enough to choose from. As of Feb 2018 there are almost 70 silicone dildos priced at $35.99 or less making dildos the easiest-to-find in the category of affordable sex toys.

  1. The Colours Pleasure Small provides a realistic design in bold colors, plus a suction cup. Some have complained about the texture and the firmness, though.
  2. I’m cheating here but I’m just gonna show you all these Blush Novelties dildos under $35.99 – 17 of em – including a dual density and some large models.
  3. I wanted to include glass on the list, for those who want to try the firmness of the material but I am struggling with this recommendation. I really really hate to promote Pipedream products in part for their sub-par quality and in part for their shitty company ethics. About half of their Icicles line is under $35. It makes me twitchy though to even talk about them. 
  4. For a slender glass dildo with a great g-spot or prostate curve, consider the Sinclair Institute Crystal G Glass Wand.
  5. Another glass option is the Crystal Heart of Glass dildo which didn’t totally fail the annealing test.
  6. For those who want size options and maybe something bigger, consider the silicone So Dildo from Marc Dorcel.
  7. The Cloud 9 brand has some silicone suction-cup dildos in various skin tones, all under $35.
  8. From trusted maker Funkit comes the NoFrillDo – 3 options at $24.99.
  9. I’ve got Tantus items on the list – the Starter dildo is great for those new to penetration…
  10. …as is the Silk Small
  11. For those who need a harness, the CalExotics Princess Low Profile fits up to 53″, so that’s not terrible2.
  12. Those who need more room can get the even nicer Sportsheets Plus Size Beginner’s Harness, which fits up to 72″ hips, has a nice back side and has 4 different o-rings.

Butt Plugs Under $35

  1. All butt toys can stimulate the prostate, but some are designed for that specific purpose. The Doc Johnson Mood Naughty 2 …..
  2. …or the LUX LX1 are two decent choices. 
  3. For those who like the sensation of anal beads, try out the Fun Factory Bendybeads…
  4. …or the much smaller, not graduated Pleasure Works Casanova.
  5. There are actually a lot of butt plugs under $35, so I’ve chosen a few that rate well with others and one super-affordable, the CalExotics Coco Licious Plug.
  6. Fan favorites include the Tantus Ryder
  7. …or the Fun Factory Bootie.
  8. The Tantus Neo has a super-comfortable base and plug style, and comes in a silky smooth dust-repellent silicone 3.
  9. Those who need something extra big can consider the Plump Plug.

Penis Toys Under $35

There are plenty of cheap masturbation sleeves but the material worries me with most in terms of toxicity. All affordable sleeves are made from a porous material, but I trust Tenga to not be toxic. Their 3D sleeves aren’t quite under $35 but are still an affordable sex toy option vs Fleshlights and the Tenga Flip Holes.

  1. The Tenga Eggs are listed as one-time-use but I think if you rinse it and dry it and don’t wait weeks in between, people have gotten a few uses of them.
  2.  Vibrating cock rings are very hit-or-miss and often don’t line up with everybody’s genitals or provide enough vibration. The Tantus Super Soft Vibrating Ring is decent enough. Knowing that the Screaming O Charged Vooom is a decent bullet I think their cock ring version would be fairly powerful.
  3. Cock rings in general are great because they can increase erection firmness and make orgasm more pleasureable (and delayed a bit); a good place to start for a nice reusable one is the Tantus Super Soft.

BUT WAIT, There’s More!

This 4-cuffs-and-a-blindfold kit isn’t a bad way to dip your toes into BDSM. This $11 paddle is a cute way to find out if you like the more broad sensation play of a paddle whereas this $11 whip is a good entry point to decide if you prefer sharp sensation play.

Need something to put your new little collection in? The Large and Extra Large Sugar Saks are woven with anti-microbial threads and this stylish Liberator toy pouch, with zippers that can be locked together, will keep prying eyes out.

So we’ve learned that there are plenty of really great dildo options for $35 and under, a lot of butt toy options for $35 and under, but the vibrator category still makes me sad. There are cheap vibrators, to be sure, but they’re just too crappy to list even if they are made from ABS plastic. I’d like to see more brands come out with affordable sex toys under $35 like vaginal and anal insertables that aren’t either loud enough to wake your roommate or so mild that they won’t please most people; the “mild” vibrations are why I didn’t pick anything by Bswish or CalExotics because my experiences with those brands consistently show their vibrators are very mild and surface-buzzy when they’re lower-priced. I’d like to see some realistically-styled vibrating dildos in the affordable price range,  because it’s apparently something that sells really well in the porous materials.

I don’t actually think that having silicone dildos/plugs that are only silicone on the exterior are a problem – unless the exterior can split or crack open. While it seemed shady and even a little weird to have a dildo advertised as “100% silicone” actually be stuffed with a foam insert or rubber rod, if this is what it takes to produce affordable sex toys that have non-porous, body-safe materials where it counts? I think I’m okay with it. We’ve only found out about this practice when the items have been sliced/cut open, to my knowledge.

Affordable Sex Toys Bonus Section! Can you up your budget to $50?

Not all of these are $50, these are items priced between $36 and $50. I also want to highlight the Tantus Grab Bag section. While their shipping prices aren’t super awesome (I think the lowest is $12/13, which eats up a lot of the $35 budget) if you can get your budget to $50 AND grab a sale, then you have some great picks for butt toys and dildos.

Create-Your-Own Affordable Sex Toy Intro Kit for around $50 + Shipping:

Vibrators for $50 or less:

Dildos for $50 or less:

Penis Toys for $50 or less:

  • The Tenga 3D sleeves don’t have a hard shell casing but feel great! The material is infused with Silver for antimicrobial properties which helps it’s porous stature.

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  1. Actually the Tenga Egg is porous, but I had no choice, and it’s non-toxic
  2. A more boxer/underwear style can be had for less than $30, but it fits an even smaller range of people than the Pipedream strappy harness – sad that they couldn’t take this anywhere close to plus sizes. These can be used as packer briefs or dildo harnesses
  3. For a little texture you can also consider the Tantus Juice Plug or for something soft and squishier try the Severin Small
Nov 272014
 

In case you’re new here, let’s review the rules. Everybody’s year-end lists differ;  I try to keep it to sex toys that have been introduced to the public this calendar year as much as possible. For the “Best” toys I only rank the ones I’ve used and loved.  For the “Worst” list I’ve gone outside my normal rules – I just didn’t review very many “new this year” sex toys that I really and truly loathed. Curious to see how I’ve ranked things in years past? I’ve got lists from 2013, 2012, and 2011.  This year’s list is quite different. For one, there’s no dildo! I wasn’t wowed by any dildos I tried this year that were new to the market. This is also the first year that toys for the penis/prostate made the list – not once, but twice!  Onward, to the Best Sex Toys of 2014! (and the worst)

Interested in picking up one or two of these for the holidays? Check out the Black Friday / Cyber Monday sales!

Best Sex Toys of 2014

rosarougeBest Vibrator

L’amourose Rosa Rouge – So amazing. It’s technically a g-spot / prostate vibe, but I ended up liking it best as a clitoral vibe. The vibrations are phenomenal –super powerful and deeply rumbling– and the warming feature actually does enhance the vibrations. This vibrator from newcomer French company L’amourose had me so crazy in love that I emailed SheVibe within minutes of my first orgasm to say “Please stock this!!” Runner up would be the plain Rosa – same great design and vibrations, minus the warming heated shaft.

Tenga Iroha MinamoBest Vibrator ~ Honorable Mention

Tenga Iroha Minamo – This is nearly the polar opposite of the L’amourose Rosa Rouge! Not for anyone who needs powerful vibrations or filling girth, this is great for those who need the opposite – a softer touch. The plush body and decently moderate vibrations combine with a slender shaft to finally offer those who think Less is More a great vibrator.  It works really well as either an internal or external vibrator and has a lot more obvious squish to it than it’s sister vibe, the Mikazuki.  It’s not a vibrator that I love for myself, but because it fills a gaping hole in the sex toy world – slender, decent and soft.

PulseVibratorforMenBest Cock Toy

Hot Octopuss Pulse – The vibrator for the penis, stupidly called the “guybrator”. It can be used as a vibrating stroker, but in our house it’s best when held at the frenulum while he lays back to enjoy the sensations. It surprised both of us, and really went above and beyond expectations.  Unique in design, it boasts super powerful vibrations and is really easy to use. Also hailed as a couples toy, we felt it didn’t perform in that arena but as a solo toy for him, it was so awesome. Keep an eye out though, Pulse 2 will hit the stores by February.

Jopen Lust L12 Prostate VibratorBest Prostate Massager

Jopen Lust L12 – This little guy has everything but the girth – powerful, rumbling vibrations with pulsating patterns and both ends vibrate to hit the prostate from inside and out. Jopen tried to play it off as a vibrator for either g-spot or prostate, but the design and size really fail as a g-spot & clitoris dual stim vibe. Available in hot pink or grey, it’s rechargeable and only $69 at Shevibe.

PleasurePurseBest Accessory

Pleasure Purse – I love this bag; it’s so versatile. It’s a weekender bag, it’s an inconspicuous storage option for the closet, it’s lockable and it’s very well made. Pockets galore with a black leather exterior ensure a place for everything. The stitching is well done and will hold up, plus the zippers are good quality and won’t jam. I filled it up with a lot of stuff for a weekend away, and then crammed it full of sex toys just to test the capacity.

TouchCompareMost Improved

We-Vibe Touch – I wasn’t in love with the first gen We-Vibe Touch but their upgrade brought in silky, matte-finish silicone and much less vibration dampening from the silicone. The Touch no longer picks up all the dust in a 3 foot radius, and feels much stronger than the old version. Sure, I still love the Tango more, but now I can finally recommend the Touch. Good job, We-Vibe!

ovoBest Choice for Beginners

OVO – I’m not even picking a single toy here. I’ve only reviewed the K2, but I had the chance to check out a good portion of the line in person. Shevibe carries a lot of the models and everything is under $50; many are under $30! The vibrations are more rumbly than buzzy (note: this doesn’t apply to the teenie vibes, like the Ws, they’re VERY buzzy, and the S1) and they’re moderate (this applies to most of the items – I’ve seen only negative reviews for the cock rings, so avoid those, and the vibrations on their mini external bullets, W1 and W2 are best left on the shelf). Great for newbies and those who don’t need extreme power. Their 15 year warranty is pretty much unprecedented in the sex toy biz. Made from silicone and ABS plastic, you’ve got a lot to choose from in this line. My only gripe is that the company doesn’t know how to measure a sex toy; they’ve measured from the widest portion –often the handle– and not just the widest usable portion. This led to some really skewed measurements. I’m trying to get better measurements, but if you have your eye on a certain model or have a size requirement, ask me and hopefully I can help narrow it down!

 

Worst Sex Toys of 2014

Lelo  anything – Lelo really fucked up this year. Their Smart Bead seems to be mostly gimmick and that fucking “cock ring for BANKERS”? Uh uh. Nope. That video is so offensive and the marketing campaign as a whole pretty much shits on their overall image. So glad I quit last year.

Fun Factory Amorino – Take a mediocre rabbit-style vibe and add a silicone “rubber band”. It’s as dumb as you’re imagining. And painful, to boot. I had an experience that ripped a few hairs out.

Jimmyjane Form 4 – The review that caused Jimmyjane to think I’m being paid off to hate them so much. I hated the Form 4 so much, and for so many reasons.

PalmPower Wand Massager – A lot of people love this thing so I wondered what was wrong with me when I disliked it so much. It could have been something decent, but all the flaws were too glaring to ignore.

Marc Dorcel Secret Vibe – The only good thing about this vibe is the remote. But otherwise it’s $70 for something so buzzy, so weak that I forgot I had it inside of me.

 

 

 Posted by at 11:30 am
Nov 022014
 
Amazon Warehouse (image courtesy of theguardian.com) - Why Buying Sex Toys from Amazon is a Risky Gamble

Amazon Warehouse (image courtesy of theguardian.com)

People sure do like to buy sex toys from Amazon and it is troubling to me. Not quite as troublesome in my world as toxic toys, but nearly so. A lot of people are more comfortable buying their sex toys from Amazon than a sex toy retailer, because they feel certain that it will be more discreet – they know that anything “sold by Amazon” will come in an Amazon box and an Amazon mailing address. And most of the time, Amazon is cheaper…and to detriment of the reputable sex toy shops, too.  Many of the higher-end manufacturers put a limit on how low their items can be sold, and Amazon sellers often completely ignore this. Either they are just shady people or…..they’re counterfeit.  In the years I’ve been doing this, I’ve had more people report problems ordering from Amazon than any other sex toy problems combined. I’ve had readers tell me, even as far back as 4 years ago, that they bought a “luxury” vibrator and something went wrong after a month or two. They took their problem to the manufacturer because it has a warranty, and they found out it wasn’t the brand they thought they were buying and the company wouldn’t honor a warranty claim. Rightfully so; it’s not their product. The counterfeit sex toy market is bigger than you think and it’s found a nice home at Amazon (and Ebay).

So Which Brands Are Suspect?

While this is by NO means a complete list, and I’d be suspect of just about anything, the specific brands I’ve heard of are: Lelo, Fun Factory, We-VibeFleshlights, Tenga, Fairy Wands by Merci Toys, Magic Wand.  Njoy is probably the most copied brand I know of. Multiple times a month I am contacted by shady companies in Hong Kong, Pakistan and India, who specialize in metal sex toys. They often go so far as to use Njoy product photos. The prices are super low, and there’s no way it could be an Njoy product, much less made of medical grade stainless steel, for that low price (in the ballpark of 15% of the cost of an Njoy).  One shady seller on Amazon was including free Fun Factory Smartballs that were counterfeits….and not even made of silicone as was found out from a flame test. Other products that I would be wary of: low-priced metal toys that claim to be stainless steel. I’ve heard some really bad things about a crystal-ended metal plug that is selling for around $20.  I would absolutely be suspect of glass sex toys sold on Amazon, as I personally experienced what can happen (see update from 2015 below).  Further issues abound with BDSM items (which are outside my realm of expertise) as well as specialty items like chastity cages:

 Another brand that can be suspect is Tantus. It was officially noted to affiliates “in regards to Amazon & Ebay, we don’t sell directly to anyone that has an Amazon/Ebay store. Tantus does NOT guarantee the origin, product quality, or authenticity of ‘Tantus’ items purchased off of these sites.” ETA (2017) Tantus changed from this to actually selling on Amazon, which I do not agree with. I don’t know how you will know if you received a genuine Tantus toy or a counterfeit. I’d suggest shopping at Shevibe, instead.

Could They Re-Sell a Used Sex Toy?

This part is just a theory but there’s another issue with third-party sellers that isn’t brought up much in discussions about Amazon – the returned sex toys. I’ve always felt pretty confident that there’s little to worry about when the major retailers who allow returns of sex toys (despite a few dramatic claims at the height of other issues with EF). Lovehoney and EdenFantasys both allow it. While Lovehoney is certainly bigger and more global, EdenFantasys used to hold its own quite well as a go-to retailer in its day. Logistically speaking, why would they risk their reputation and company on re-selling a returned (used or defective) sex toy? All it would take would be for one person to report it to the authorities and the doors would be shut. But with an Amazon third-party seller who doesn’t use Fulfillment By Amazon, a person could send back a toy and an unscrupulous seller could re-sell it. I’ve seen third-party sellers who do accept returns if it is “unused and unopened” but unless it’s been shrink-wrapped it’s not that hard to carefully open a box and make it look like it was never opened. On Twitter after this post was first published, this was said and very relevant:

Updated for 2016: Cosmo recently interviewed a person who has done a metric fuck ton of reviews on Amazon. This person is sent product from Amazon sellers; not Amazon directly. She noted that she has had products arrive “destroyed” or “be dirty like someone’s used them already”. This does not sound good!

The Amazon Shuffle – The New Shell Game?

Are all sex toys from Amazon possibly a counterfeit? Of course not. But the risk for getting one is high enough that I don’t feel that people should take the gamble. Many people have no idea that they even got a counterfeit some of the time, especially until it breaks.  Many think it’s okay to buy the item if it is listed as being “Sold by Amazon LLC”.  Here’s how it works: In the Amazon Warehouses, to save space, every We-Vibe Tango (as an example) goes into the same warehouse bin. Every seller who is storing their goods at Amazon for Amazon to ship has to give their item a UPC or Item Code or something. Everything with the same item code all goes in the same bin. They don’t have room to store every seller’s We-Vibe Tango in a different space. So now, whenever you buy a We-Vibe Tango someone at Amazon is grabbing from the communal bin. Since Amazon has many warehouses across the country, they’ll also ship your item from the warehouse closest to you that stocks the item. This means it’s not necessarily going to be the stock of the retailer you chose to buy from and there’s no control over that, either. You could be ordering from a reputable retailer on Amazon and still get the stock from a shady retailer.  The ONLY way you’re not taking a risk is if the item is being sold by AND shipped by a reputable retailer or manufacturer – of which there are very few on Amazon. And then, because it’s coming from the retailer/manufacturer and not Amazon, there goes all your assumed discretion in shipping and the possibility of “Prime” shipping. So what’s the point?

Update for 2015: For two distinct purposes, I purposely purchased sex toys from Amazon. One purpose was to determine what some of these Chinese vendors actually meant when they were calling a product “medical grade silica gel”, which meant I bought some items with dubious material declarations. Spoiler alert: it’s a crapshoot on whether you’ll get silicone (a material actually used for sex toys, whereas silica gel is not) or something…else. The second purpose was for my glass sex toy test. I purchased two that were listed as a branded item. Both came in identical packaging – which to say, it wasn’t manufacturer packaging. Both were purchased from different sellers. One I was able to confirm easily as a counterfeit, by being sent the actual branded item from SheVibe.

Is it Just Amazon?

No. While other sites don’t work the same way, there’s still a huge huge risk of the game ending badly if you buy from Ebay. If you find discount sites that look too good to be true….they probably are. Aliexpress.com is one such site.  Groupon has become another. I’ve been alerted to mislabeled sex toys on Groupon numerous times. Please just don’t buy sex toys from Groupon, either.

Stay Safe, Ask a Sex Blogger

So what would you rather do? Save ten or twenty bucks and take a big gamble on buying sex toys from Amazon or deal with a sex toy retailer that is vetted by your hardworking sex toy review bloggers, and is a company that actually cares about you? By buying from the companies we bloggers work with, you’re supporting the Good Guys in the industry. By using us bloggers as a sounding board before you spend your money, you could actually save money by listening to our advice in our reviews. I advise many people one-on-one on their purchase before they buy (email, Tumblr or Reddit). I’ve had too many people come to me AFTER their purchase, saying that they wished they’d seen my review before wasting their money and there went $100+ down the drain. Read all the reviews, email your favorite bloggers. Ask their opinion. And then, when you’ve decided, wait a little bit. Keep an eye on the sales. Tantus, for example, has a different sale every month. SheVibe has different sales every week. And don’t just take the word of one blogger. 

BOTTOM LINE: I’m such a huge advocate of safe, non-porous sex toys; I want every aspect of your sex toy buying and using experience to be as safe as possible. I can’t promise your safety if you buy sex toys from Amazon and Ebay.

When you CAN shop at Amazon

There’s really only three sexuality items you can safely purchase from Amazon, in my opinion. As always, do your research first! 

  1. Educational sex books / erotica books
  2. Condoms
  3. Lube, only after you’ve read up on which lubes & lube ingredients to avoid!

Where to Shop

If you’ve been here before, you probably know my most highly-recommended store is SheVibe.  My reasons are many and varied, but here’s the highlights: their stock is neither too specialized or too excessive. They don’t stock known-toxic toys. They educate their customers on the porous toys. The company is run by people who love what they do and who treat everyone – customers to industry people – with kindness and respect. Their prices are great, and they have many sales. They have a large and varied stock without trying to carry every product under the sun. They are often champions for smaller, indy brands like (the now defunct) Fucking Sculptures, Funkit or Lumberjill, and are open to suggestions. Nearly everything under the sun that I could ever recommend for purchase, SheVibe carries. I can’t say that about any other store on my list.

I don’t often recommend buying directly from a manufacturer, but there are two that I’ll break that rule for:

Tantus is great, and every month has a really great sale (no sale you like? Coupon code LILLY gets you 15% off – nevermind they took that away, maybe someday it’ll come back). Between their closeout section and grab bag section, you’re bound to find a safe, silicone dildo to fit your budget. And their customer service is great. Problem with your order? They’ll take care of it. Currently their shipping is a bit high though and can be a deterrent for small orders – although they do offer free shipping in the US if you spend $100. 

Crystal Delights is another wonderful manufacturer of truly high-quality glass items. Their specialty is glass plugs with Swarovski crystals at the end. They also make tail plugs and glass dildos. 

Other retailers I can recommend:

Early to Bed is a Chicago-based shop with an online presence. They have a great selection of items for trans and genderqueer people; however they have a habit re-naming the sex toys they carry. This makes it hard to locate a particular sex toy if you know it by brand and style name.

Smitten Kitten is a Minneapolis-based shop with an online presence. They have a great selection of kitschy and cute gifts, they carry an extended line of BS Atelier products, they’re the only shop I know of right now carrying Hole Punch toys other than Shevibe, and they are the brains behind the Lube Guide and every starting point I’ve had for toxic toy research. Their educational book section is absolutely fabulous.

Goodvibes is a long-time shop with an online presence as well as a few brick stores in the US. They don’t carry anything toxic, but do carry some porous items. Their overall catalog tends to be slim and I have numerous favorites that they don’t carry. They also sometimes re-name toy, but more often I’ll find them stripping the manufacturer’s name from the lower-end stuff – since I try to avoid recommending certain brands, I’m not a fan of this practice. Their prices are not as good as SheVibe. They do have a decent on-demand porn store, though. I’m not a big fan of GV but they’ll do.

Come As You Are is a nice little Toronto-based cooperative shop with an online presence. They’re one of the few better stores that do carry a few toxic items – in fact the first few things that come up in their dildo section seem to have phthalates. However, they’re one of the few places that carry a silicone vaginal dilator set with the dilator sizes ranging from 1/2″ wide to 1 1/2″ wide and you can buy the sizes separately. Their prices seem to be good and they also have a great selection of items for trans and genderqueer people. They do have educational material on the site, but continue to (as most places do) insist that condoms will absolutely protect against phthalates (it’s not actually been proven true, nor has it been proven false).

I’m trying to locate other Canadian, Australian and UK shops I’m willing to recommend. I’m picky, yo.

Lovehoney used to be on this list, but now they’re on another list. I can’t recommend them anymore.

Other places that are fine, I just don’t work with them: Babeland is best if you are at a brick store. Online their selection is kinda meh. UK shoppers can also check out ThatPosition or Vibrator Kingdom. Canadians, check out Pinkcherry. Australians, I’ve heard MissX and AdultSpice are good.

Sep 102014
 

silicone suction cup dildos on various surfacesLike the rabbit vibrator, suction cup dildos are (for me) a great idea in theory but terrible in execution. I’m no spring chicken anymore and I have the knees of a person twice my age. I can’t deny though that plenty of people love these things. One reason why I have trouble with suction cup dildos is the lack of a compatible surface. The surface has to be completely flat and perfectly smooth, no imperfections that would break the suction seal. Bathroom tiles can sometimes work, but they need to be at least 1/2″ bigger than the base on each side to have a chance at working. Mirrors and windows work, of course. Painted walls though, normally do not. Before you get it in your head that the suction cup is for you, make sure you have a surface that’ll work with it. I see a lot of people buying the porous / possibly-toxic versions way, way too often so I’m providing a list of all known safe versions. There’s a surprisingly larger selection than I expected! As of 2018 update, there are a lot. SheVibe’s updated website lists 115 silicone, suction-cup dildos with prices ranging from $21 to $125, which doesn’t include the butt toys or vibrators.  This also doesn’t begin to take into consideration the smaller, fantasy dildo makers. I haven’t included any of those because I don’t own any, don’t review them, haven’t really seen them much in person. Wanna know about those? Go see Lunabelle.

Affordable Silicone Suction Cup Dildos Under $50

When I first made this post in 2014 the list overall was a little slender and there were fewer options under $50. Nowadays we not only have options under $50, but I count 37 options for $29.99 or less at SheVibe. And many of these under $50 are actually really well made – affordable no longer means being limited to ultra-firm single density or silicone shells stuffed with foam/rags/etc.

Early2Bed carries a few that I’m not yet seeing in many places. Max, Fairy, and Astral. Max is realistic-looking but small while Fairy and Astral (Maia brand) are completely non-realistic. It looks like SheVibe is now carrying a bit of the Maia brand, and using the manufacturer’s naming they carry the Maia Porpora D1 (updated to Riley) in hot pink and purple and the D3 (updated to Kendall) in Blue or Purple.  For a moderately sized (7″x 1.6″ for the D1, 1.75″ for the D3) silicone dildo, the price ($30) is quite decent. I want to note that the only products I recommend from Maia at this time are these dildos. They have a core that is another, non-silicone material (presumably to lower production costs) which you should never see and should not at all affect the safety of the silicone material on the outside (and it is silicone, and quite thick at that). I’ve also been told that the Maia silicone is very firm and has texture to it, making it a bit of a lube hog. Also at Early to Bed is this glow-in-the-dark blue dildo that is actually the NS Novelties Firefly in Silicone.

New-ish from CalExotics is their Packer Gear line. There is a foam core, but you’ll never see it and it won’t affect the dildo. These are apparently, from the product line info, meant for packing. They’re flexible! They’re also all under $35. ETA: I have received one to check out and the silicone feels nice and smooth, without any grabby texture to it. The silicone is relatively firm but it still has bend. I don’t see how one would pack with this, but whatever. It’s still a nice dildo – not my favorite, but you may like it and I don’t see anything wrong with the foam core.

Blush Novelties continues to expand their options for affordable silicone dildos. Every model (except for one) in their Real Nude line at Shevibe has a suction cup. Prices range from $39 to $56 so they’re priced lower than Vixen Vixskin and Tantus. The soft outer layer is delightfully squishy and the core is very firm, but they can bend in half. However, photos have shown the Sumo (supposedly 2″ diameter) easily able to bend in half. I know that my larger Tantus O2 dildo can’t do that. Early To Bed carries a red version of one of the designs! Also from Blush the new Luxe Mio is short and very fat, 1.8″ and reasonably priced. Also included in the link above for Real Nude line is a line of single-density affordable, brightly colored silicone dildos. In Late 2017 Blush introduced the Avant line – vague shapes colored in block sections like striped socks, and the silicone is matte and dust-resistant. The Blush line may be listed in the “budget” section here but their dual density options and the Avant line are gorgeous, well made, and feel great. I fully recommend them.

Doc Johnson’s Vac-u-Lock line was always baffling to me – they require a special harness (none of which look all that awesome to me) and they were all always porous/toxic materials. But in recent years Doc Johnson came out with some silicone vac-u-lock options. These can be used by themselves as a dildo, but I noticed that Shevibe carries a Vac-u-lock suction cup accessory, directly copying Tantus. Since I’ve never owned a vac-u-lock toy I don’t know if the Tantus accessory could be used here instead, but the DJ version is only $10.  This means you can get a realistic, suction-cup silicone dildo for right around $50.

The Cloud 9 brand has a wide range of realistic silicone suction cup dildos in a few sizes and a few flesh tones. I’ve flame-tested another Cloud 9 item and at least the items listed at SheVibe as silicone are definitely silicone. Their prices range from $21 to $25!!

I’ll mention the Godemiche line out of necessity, but note that I don’t support this brand. SheVibe carries a couple suction-cup base options full of glitter, like this one in teal for $40.

The Colours line, from NS Novelties, has a variety of sizes of suction cup dildos in a bunch of colors.  The overall styling is realistic, but the most of the colors aren’t (there are pale skin tones but also pink, blue, purple, etc).  Sizes range from 1.5″ wide to 2.1″ wide, and only the 8″x2.1″ is priced over $50. I’ve been told that this brand is very firm and combining that with the veiny/rough texture has been uncomfortable for some people especially when used anally. Yes, this is the brand with the rainbow dildo.

BUTT TOYS! Not to be left out, there are a few silicone butt plugs with a suction cup base: Cocolicious from CalEx (might have a foam or bead core, like Pipedream); Colt brand Jumbo (over 2″!) plug, the gorgeous Funkit Cashew, two different styles from CalExotics, and some Tom of Finland girthy plugs.

Vibrating Suction Cup Dildos

The Blush Nude Impressions line are under-$60 suction-cup vibrators in 3 non-realistic colors – most of them are priced at $49. I loved the blue one, and have been told that they’re working on revamping this line – adding more colors and a magnetic charger – with the revamps arriving late 2018.

CalExotics Luxe line has a vibrating suction cup dildo that is “touch responsive”, claiming the deeper you stroke, the stronger the vibrations. I haven’t tried it, but I don’t expect the vibrations to be super powerful.  Then they have a cheaper rabbit style suction cup vibrator that, frankly, I’m skeptical about in terms of vibration. It’s $36 so at least you won’t be out a ton of money. Unfortunately, the suction cup (removable) is PVC.  Similarly made with a PVC suction cup is the CalEx realistic vibration suction cup dildo – G-spot style or Standard. Both come in two unrealistic flesh colors.

Higher-End Silicone Suction Cup Dildos over $50

Of course with Tantus, there’s the silicone suction cup attachment, which works with their vibrating dildos. You can also find them at SheVibe, usually for a better price (catch a 10-15% off SheVibe sale for the best deal).

Fun Factory, usually known for the vibrators, have a few dildos. Amor, maybe the Boss (unconfirmed), Bandito and Tiger all claim to have suction-cup bases. The Amor and Boss are subtly realistic while the Bandito and Tiger are not at all plus are heavily textured. New to the line-up is the Bouncer, also with a suction-cup base.

Smitten Kitten carries CJ Hooker, a somewhat realistically-styled dildo from Hole Punch that comes in vivid purple and blue gradients.  It’s got an interesting taper to it, but is 1.75″ at the widest. SheVibe now also carries it, in green and for $20 less. FYI, it’s modeled after the creator. There’s a new one called Chewie, in some gorgeous colors, that is fairly realistic and a little more slender than CJ Hooker.

Funkit, maker of clear silicone with vivid pigment swirls, has an entire line of sex toys based around that innovative hinged suction-cup base. Shevibe carries 3 models – 1 plug and 2 dildos. The NoFrillDos do not have the suction cup base.

New York Toy Collective has a very realistic “uncut” dual density dildo with a suction cup base called Ellis.

Vixen dildos sometimes have a naturally occurring suction cup base. I contacted Vixen to get the complete current line-up:

Vixskin: Tex, Raquel, Randy, Maverick (rumors have it that the Mustangs can be suction-cuppy, but Vixen didn’t list it)

Original Formula: All with the exception of vibe versions, or anything with testicles (Johnny). i.e. All of the Realistic Bents, Randy, Leo, Mistress, and Woody.

Filed under “but how would that even stay on the wall” is the ginormous Tom of Finland Kake Cock. Tom of Finland also makes a few sizes of a standard butt plug with a suction cup base.

Silicone Suction Cup Dildos for Canadians via Come As You Are

Their selections are limited compared to SheVibe, but they have a couple of Fuze dildos that say they have a suction-cup base; Vixen models; two NS Novelties items that they’ve renamed but are the same as the Colours line and of course the Colours Pride dildo; the New York Toy Collective Ellis; the Blush Juicy and Mio; a trio of butt plugs; and the touch-responsive Luxe vibrator.

 

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May 252014
 

first sex toy buying guideOver at Reddit I’ve been getting a lot of questions along the lines of “I/we want to try out sex toys, but have no idea where to start”. It can be hard sometimes to recommend things for someone’s first sex toy, since not even they really know what they want. And of course, they often are young or just reluctant to spend much money on the whole endeavor, since they have no clue how it’ll work out. Too often, people recommend cheap and *unsafe* sex toys, or cheap and half-ass quality sex toys, for a sex toy newbie. I’ve been there, and that’s mostly what filled my meager toy bag my first two years. It led me to wasting a decent chunk of money, but it also ultimately led to me creating this blog. I try to avoid recommending shoddy toys to the first-timers. So difficult, so very very difficult. They’re cheap for a reason! I do have a complete guide to under-$35 sex toys right here, and there’s now a bonus section for sex toys under $50, but for this topic we’re going to up the budget to $80 because it’s where the better sex toys are. Not that you need to start off pricey but I don’t recommend always going super cheap, especially with vibrators.

Top Three Tips Before You Start

  1. Understand safe sex toy materials. You want to avoid anything porous. Stick with silicone from trusted brands, hard (ABS) plastic, glass, metal and wood.
  2. Discuss it together, first. Go get your partner and look at the items I’m recommending. What you think your partner would like and what they actually would like can be two very different things. Make sure you can answer these seven things before you buy a surprise gift for a partner.
  3. If you’re buying a sex toy for someone with a clitoris who has never orgasmed from penetrative sex, then don’t get an internal vibe. Get an external vibe and a stronger one at that but don’t feel like you have to jump right to the Magic Wand.

Where to shop

Please, don’t go to Amazon. The first place I recommend you shop at if you’re in the US is Shevibe. They have great prices and are a trustworthy company. You’ll get great customer service, too. They’ve been around for awhile and I adore them. For silicone dildos and butt toys, plus some harnesses and paddles, you can also go directly to the manufacturer I adore most – Tantus. They often have great sales. If you’re in Canada Come As You Are is good.  A few smaller, feminist sex shops I support are Smitten Kitten and Early to Bed.  Now, you may notice a lack of UK and Canadian shops. I’ve stopped supporting Lovehoney and Lovedreamer, two I had previously listed here. Lovedreamer would hold onto my affiliate earnings for ages and be unreachable. This doesn’t give me enough trust in them treating you, the customer, properly. I’m working on finding new shops in other countries that I can support fully and trust. *Apparently this paragraph is not sufficient for some people. If you want the details on why I recommend these shops, read my long-winded comment below. Also read this post.

Deciding on sex toy size

Base the size of your first sex toy, if it’s meant for insertion, on what has already been inserted into said orifice. Nothing? A finger? Two fingers? A cock? Not all people seeking their first sex toy need something tiny and/or wimpy on vibrations. If you’ve never had anything inserted, ever, you’re going to have to purchase two sizes – the warm-up and then the step-up. I realize it sounds like a waste of money, but you can’t just jump head first into these things. Starting with a warm-up can be key to the whole experience going well.  I have a complete guide to choosing your first dildo that you should check out. Also, consider the material. A very firm silicone, or other hard material, is going to feel bigger than the same size bio cock. There are a lot of under-$50 dildos listed here, too.

Introducing the clitoris to a vibrator

The first sex toy you use on a clitoris is very dependent on the sensitivity level of that clitoris. Again, not everyone will need a subtle vibrator, but not everyone needs a Hitachi Magic Wand, either. If the clitoris owner in question has difficulty reaching orgasm from fingers and tongues, then you’re looking for something powerful and rumbly. If you think that pinpoint but really strong stimulation is your best bet, you can’t go wrong with the We-Vibe Tango. It’s the most powerful bullet vibe on the market and very rumbly. Another strong option that isn’t quite the level of the Tango (but very very close) is the Jopen Lust L2.5; tiny but powerful it has deep, penetrating rumbling vibrations (it also comes in pink). There’s also a $9.99 option to consider if you are really concerned about price for now and that’s the Blush Novelties Gaia Eco; the vibrations are actually fairly strong and rumbly so I wouldn’t recommend it for more sensitive clits. Yes, it’s a long slimline vibrator but that doesn’t mean it’s prescribed only for internal use.

For those who can orgasm anywhere from somewhat easily to rarely, to unsure about owning a vibrator I have one that I recommend across the board: Doc Johnson’s Black Magic bullet. It’s affordable, it has vibrations that are more rumbly than buzzy, and with 4 levels it can work for a large variety of people. It’s versatile – can be used solo, together, and on any body part that might like some vibrations (external only, though please – I don’t feel that most corded bullets are meant for vaginal insertion and I wouldn’t trust them for anal insertion). I feel that the vibration range of the Black Magic allows for slightly less intense vibrations on the lower end of the scale when compared to the Gaia Eco mentioned above. A cute and tiny option is the OVO T2. It doesn’t pack the punch of the Black Magic Bullet, but it’s small and unobtrusive while still having pretty decent vibrations. The same can be said for the OVO D2. It’s similar in size to the Lelo Mia 2, has pretty decent vibrations and is quiet. The Lelo Mia 2 is more powerful than the OVO D2 and less powerful than the Jopen Lust L2.5 and much less powerful than the We-Vibe Tango.

If you’ve heard a lot about these new pressure-wave suction-but-not-suction sex toys like the Womanizer and Satisfyer, check out my mega-guide. The only affordable one that I can recommend for now is the Satisfyer Pro 2, at $69, but the Womanizer brand is far superior to date (updated 2017). These work best if you know you like pinpoint stimulation of the clitoris, but expect different results than pinpoint vibrators.

G-spot for beginners

A number of the dildos in the choosing your first dildo guide are great for g-spot play, but some people are understandably curious about vibration for their first sex toy. There’s a number of better (over $50) options like the L’amourose Prism V or the Je Joue Uma, but to see if you even like vibrations on your g-spot, start out with something more affordable like the Aria Hue G, or Picobong’s Zizo or Moka. The ultra-affordable Aria Hue G won’t knock your socks off but it’s no slouch. The new OVO E3, a very affordable rechargeable, has a large flat head like the Lelo Mona with pretty good, moderately-rumbly vibrations.  The oddly-shaped very-versatile Blush Nude Impressions 01 is powerful, rumbly and awesome with a suction cup, silky silicone, and a rechargeable battery. It’s even waterproof.

A Vibrator to use during sex?

Often I hear from couples who want a vibrator that can maybe be used during PIV sex to help achieve clitoral orgasm. I find myself recommending the Fun Factory Layaspot for it’s small size and curve. I’d prefer to recommend the We-Vibe Touch for it’s small size and nice silicone, but that wouldn’t fit in the $80 price limit unless you nab a seriously good sale; however the Tango does fit in the price rage, barely. Another sort-of decent toy is the Tula 2.0. It’s cheap, it runs on AAA batteries, and it’s got decent vibrations. They’re not rumbly but they’re not seriously surface-buzzy either. With a little effort, it’s even enough to get me off. It can be loud, though. But the “tilted egg on a stick” style is pretty versatile. It can be used for the g-spot, but also it’s great to use during PIV sex because the long handle keeps your hands out of the way of bumping pelvises (pelvi?). Many copies of this style exist, but most have poor vibrations that are surface-buzzy.

The We-Vibe Sync is designed to be used during sex, but the fit can be finicky (even with the improved customizable fit) and the vibrations don’t blow my mind but are vastly improved over earlier We-Vibe models. I usually prefer to recommend that you find new ways to work your sex and foreplay around a nice vibrator, rather than expecting your vibrator to blend in seamless with your sex. Other vibrators made specifically for this like the Dame Eva or Dame Fin fail on many other levels because they’re trying too hard to achieve one purpose. I don’t think that a person’s very first sex toy should be used in a high-pressure situation like PIV sex (often the vibrator is expected to help get you both to orgasms at the same time), though.

I don’t want something that looks like a sex toy

This is a common theme; whether the idea of your first sex toy fills you with anxiety or you live with other people and need something discrete, avoiding the garish designs or penis-replicas can be a good avenue. Wand massagers like the Mystic Wand are quiet and discreet looking.  You’ve seen these recommended before: For pinpoint stimulation the We-Vibe Tango and Lelo Mia 2 both fit the “tiny & quiet” bill. Often you can find a glass sex toy that looks more like art than a dildo, however please read up on glass before you go buy something super cheap.

Butts (and prostates!) need love, too

Let’s not ignore the other holes for your first sex toy! If you’re looking for plugs and dildos to prepare a butt for eventual butt sex, you should start out small and buy a few in graduating sizes, as I recommend in the beginner’s guide to anal sex toys. If you decide you like the sensation, consider the Tantus Neo, Lux LX1 or Fun Factory Booty for something under $50 or spend a little more to try the Njoy Pure Plug which is seriously highly rated. These are all plugs that are made to stay in one spot and provide the sensation of something being in there, or fullness if you get the bigger sizes.

If you’re looking for something to stimulate the prostate, start out with the Tantus Pro Touch from their Grab Bag for something affordable – it has the tip and curve that tends to target the prostate. Another option that has a little more oomph in the vibrations department is the Renegade Massager. You can also try out the non-vibrating Doc Johnson Mood Naughty 2 to see if you like the blobby-shaped prostate-targeting style of the Aneros line. If you decide you like the sensation but need more vibration, consider the Lust L12 for something a little over $50 or L’amourose Rosa Rouge for a big splurge. 

Sensations for butt toys vary – some people like the feeling of thrusting versus stationary plugs. That’s when you would try out a dildo.  The first few suggestions in the list of dildos for beginners guide are all slender and perfect for introductory anal play.

Going beyond a hand job

The world of sex toys for the penis is just so damn difficult to navigate for someone like me – I’m loathe to recommend very porous or toxic toys, yet 95% of the masturbator sleeves out there are porous. Very few are silicone – the ones that are, are very expensive or not awesome. I’m not against Fleshlight and Tenga brands, though, despite them being porous because I at least know that they’re not toxic. I’ve not heard reports about people getting skin irritations. You do have to be super vigilant with cleaning them. A Tenga product that I really love, and a material that more companies should embrace, is their line of 3D sleeves. It’s a porous TPR material infused with silver for its anti-microbial properties which would be a great place to start for your first sex toy that isn’t a one-time-use onacup. They’re extremely soft with a texture; they’re open-ended too so it won’t create vacuum suction (which also often is very noisy). Since there is no hard plastic shell around it, you can use your hand to increase pressure; you can also use your other hand to grip the open end shut to create some suction.

I read that “50 Shades” book…..

So you read one of those damn 50 Shades books and want to “spice things up”. When people say this, they can mean anything from “let’s use a sex toy” to “I have a secret kink I’ve held back on for years”.  I’m not to be considered an expert on anything serious for BDSM/kink, but I can get you started.  Pretty much the whole entire “position aids” section at Shevibe will be enough to “spice-ify” the most vanilla of sex lives, or at least get you on your way to being able to communicate deeper kinks and desires. For a little restraint and blindfold experimenting, the Liberator Bed Buckler kit is nice, sturdy and has the best blindfold I’ve ever tried on. You can also consider things like sex slings and other under the bed style restraint systems – this one fits any bed, while this more basic one will only work up to a Queen size bed.

Want to experiment with a little pain? Start with paddles and floggers, and start affordable in case you don’t like it. Avoid silicone paddles and pain implements – they hurt and it would be too much for a newbie to start with.

But what about!

You’ll see I don’t mention vibrating cock rings or rabbit vibes here. That’s because I think these are the equivalent to when a real estate agent tries to call a house “cozy” when it’s really 700 square feet, or a “fixer upper” when it barely has a floor and a roof. I don’t think that most cock rings are worth it or work well for couples, and rabbit vibes are SO hit-or-miss. In my years of  reviewing I’ve found ONE that fits me perfectly and it’s really expensive.  I didn’t get into things like harnesses because I don’t think I’ve tried enough, plus my size limits my ability to really judge the less expensive ones (my favorite of all time is the Aslan Minx or Jaguar, not something most newbies want to drop the money on). This starter kit is going to be decent for most people though.  I don’t get into gender expression items because that’s totally outside my area of expertise. There are a few harnesses too on my budget-minded list.

 Final tips

Some quick tips to keep in mind include gems like: don’t forget the lube; don’t cross-contaminate anal and vaginal toys; make sure you clean all of your sex toys properly; and finally – go slow. Try different positions. Be patient. Sex toys aren’t meant to replace a person, and they can’t. Sex toys are about enhancing the pleasure. Vibrators aren’t dangerous or addictive, nor will a large dildo “stretch out” a vagina. Have fun and check your ego.

While this guide certainly won’t cover ever aspect, it should hopefully get you started from point A. If there’s anything I haven’t covered, please ask below!

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