How to Choose A Vibrator

Last week, my friend took me with her to Adultmart. No sketchy sex shop here; it's clean, it's bright, everyone's friendly, and the selection is incredible. Wednesdays are ladies' nights, which means 20% off (and when I went, only women were there, which was refreshing). Thursdays are discount nights for college students, so regardless of your gender, you won't be left out if you've got a student ID.

As far as actual toy-buying goes, things can be a little scary for a first timer. Nicer stores (like Adultmart) often have floor models of some of the vibrators, so you can test them (against your wrists, perverts). For things that aren't on display, you can ask to see things out of the box. Since you can't return sex toys, it's important to make sure you know what you're getting.

There's a lot of advice out there for picking out a first-time vibe, but I figured I'd go over some major points here. So here we go, how to choose a vibrator.

There are so many different kinds of vibrators, so first, think about what stimulation works for you. Do you prefer clitoral stimulation? Vaginal? G-spot? All of the above? If you're a first timer, I'd suggest sticking to something external and simple, like a bullet vibe (OhJoySexToy has a great piece on this). If you're looking to step it up, some people love rabbit dildos, which can deliver both penetration and clitoral stimulation, but I find it can be hard to enjoy both at once.

Think about how you intend to use your toy. Do you relax best in the shower? Find one that's labelled waterproof. Do you want something discrete? There are a lot of incognito vibes, like a lipstick vibrator, which you can throw in your purse or not worry about you roommate finding. As far as power goes, if you'd rather not wait between charges, be sure you look for one that takes batteries. Some, like the Hitachi Magic wand, plug in to the wall, which makes them really intense. We'll talk about that next.

Many vibrators feature a variety of pulse patterns, and of course, the type of toy you buy will affect the intensity altogether. Some have more of a "buzz", while others are more of a "rumble". Floor models are great for testing this out, just click them on and try them against your wrist (Lelo suggests touching them to the tip of your nose; if it makes you feel like you're going to sneeze, it'll get you there). Turning on a store model can also give you an idea of how loud it's going to be. For some, that's not an issue, but the Hitachi is crazy intense and probably too loud for a dorm room.

Some vibes can be softened with a "tickler", like a silicone bunny or nubby cap to diffuse the vibrations a bit. Of course, size also matters; bigger vibes will tend to distribute the vibrations over a wider area, making them a little less intense.

Alright, this is super important, so bear with me.

Water-based lubes can be used internally and are safe with all toys. However, make sure you look for one that's paraben free; parabens are linked to a lot of health problems. Check out sliquid, a water-based lube that's natural and safe for everyone.

As far as silicone lubes go, they're pretty slippery and last longer than water-based, which makes them ideal for playing in the shower and often favored for anal, but you have to be really careful with what toys you use them with. Silicone lubes cannot go on silicone toys. They'll melt them. Seriously.

Different materials should be cleaned in different ways. There are some nice summaries here and here. Please, keep your toys clean and yourself safe.

It's pretty tempting to sacrifice quality for a bargain, but this just isn't an option with sex toys. If you're putting something inside of you, you should know what's in it. Here's some general guidelines:

  • Don't use jelly toys. They have phthalates and other toxic solvents that will be absorbed by your body, which can cause headaches, cramps, and nausea. They can be oily and smelly and melt. Stay away. 
  • Don't use porous toys, they're difficult to clean and can harbor bacteria. PVC, jelly, rubber, vinyl, and cyberskin may feel nice and have attractive prices, but they can accumulate bacteria, mildew, and fungus. EW.
  • Don't use anything marked "For Novelty Use Only"
  • Don't use anything that smells weird or rubbery
  • 100% pure medical-grade silicone is hands down the safest for penetrative play. 
  • Hard plastic/acrylic is safe.
  • Natural materials, like glass, metal, wood, and ceramics are safe. 

Be picky about brand names. A list of reputable companies can be found here.


One last thing, look for quality. A shotty vibe is going to die on you a lot sooner. If you're a fan of toys and you want one that's going to last, make the investment.

My favorite find this week was a sleek black pocket-rocket: Doc Johnson, ABS (non-porous and non-toxic hard plastic), phalate free and waterproof, for about $15. Sometimes good things come in small packages. At the end of the day, have fun hunting, and find something you're attracted to. If you find a toy and you think its sexy, go for it. Of course, there's a lot more out there beyond vibrators, so I'm going to have to go back next week. Until then!