Shopping for a sex toy can be a daunting task. Whether you’re buying your first or your fortieth toy, there is so much to think about. The sheer volume of toys on the market gives you a plethora of options to sift through. The choices can start to form a dizzying parade, marching through your brain until you’re addled and confused.
To help narrow your options, I’m here to talk about five things that you should avoid when you’re shopping for a new toy. So put your wallet away for a moment and consider this list before you make your next purchase.
1. Unsafe materials
Shockingly, many of the toys gracing the shelves of sex shops are not actually safe to use for jacking off. If you’re purchasing something that is going to make contact with the most intimate parts of your body, you want to be certain that it’s safe and hygienic.
Toy materials may be unsafe for a couple of reasons. They can be porous, which means that bacteria can hang out in and multiply in tiny pores on the surface of the toy. Or they may be full of chemicals that can cause reactions that range from mild irritation to chemical burns.
Luckily, there are plenty of body safe materials to choose from. Silicone is the most popular, as It’s non-porous and non-toxic and it comes in a huge variety of textures and colours. Glass and stainless steel are also wonderful options. ABS plastic is also body safe. Always check what a toy is made from before you buy to make sure that your new plaything isn’t going to serve a bout of thrush or a nasty rash with your first orgasm.
2. Vibrations that set your teeth on edge
The general consensus among sex toy enthusiasts is that vibration quality falls somewhere on a spectrum between two extremes: rumbly and buzzy. Buzzy vibrations tend to be superficial, only penetrating the surface of the skin. Rumbly vibrations are felt much deeper. If you know which end of the spectrum your preferences sit, then reading reviews that discuss the quality of the vibrations will give you a fair idea of whether or not a vibrator is going to float your boat.
If you’re not certain which kind of vibrations you prefer, I recommend visiting a store where you can see the toys in action. Obviously, the sensation you feel when a toy is in your hand is vastly different to when it's on your genitals. Try touching the vibrator to the tip of your nose and seeing how that feels. If you find that it makes your nose feel numb and itchy, the toy is on the buzzy side. If you can feel the vibrations all the way into your eye sockets, it’s a rumbly vibe. Once you’ve played with a few, you’ll have an idea which sensations you prefer, and which are more likely to leave you frustrated.
3. Anal toys without flared bases.
I know it sounds ridiculous, but it is possible for your sphincter to grab hold of a toy and suck it into your body. If there’s no base to halt it, then it will be irretrievable to all but the doctor at the E.R.
Don’t let that warning put you off exploring anal play. It’s so much fun and perfectly safe if you choose a toy that’s right for the job. Dildos and butt plugs should have a flared, sturdy base. Anal beads should have a base or a handle that you can grip during play. You need to be able to hold on tight in case your backdoor starts gobbling up those beads like a kinky Pac Man.
4. Anal lubricants with numbing ingredients.
There’s a shockingly pervasive idea that anal sex is painful. To deal with this problem, some stores will sell lubricants with numbing agents to make anal sex more bearable.
Let's look at some facts. Firstly, when done properly, anal sex doesn’t hurt. Pain is our body’s way of telling us that something is wrong, that we need more lubricant, a smaller insertable or just a bit more time. And if you numb that warning signal, then you’re much more likely to play too roughly and feel sore afterwards.
Secondly, the anus is packed with nerve endings that transmit sensational messages, so why would you want to dull that sensation? If pleasure is your goal, you aren’t going to get there using a product that eliminates feeling in the area you’re trying to stimulate. Stick to water based lube and leave the Anal-Eze on the shelf.
5. Buying a toy you saw on TV.
My first ever sex toy was a rabbit vibrator identical to the one Charlotte owns on Sex and the City. I literally walked into the sex store and asked for Charlotte’s rabbit. The amazing sales rep tried to show me a range of toys but I was insistent that the rabbit was the one I wanted. I wanted to be masturbating with the toy that had compelled Charlotte to sequester herself in her apartment and no other, dammit!
That rabbit was a perfectly fine vibrator that brought me many decent orgasms. But I should have looked at the alternatives that the sales rep was showing me. As great as the rabbit was, the acutely straight shaft didn’t feel as good as something with a curve to hit my G-spot. The rigid material made it difficult to manoeuvre the toy so that my clit was in play. Rather than rushing to buy the only toy I recognised, I should have been a bit more open-minded and considered some of the other options available.
It’s great to go shopping with a specific toy in mind. And it’s also fine if you wind up walking out of the store with that very toy. But I recommend opening your mind to some alternatives and engaging the sales staff. Listen to their suggestions and consider any flaws they point out with the toy you’re looking at. It’s great to know what you want, but it’s also important to be flexible and allow yourself to change your mind if the toy you wanted turns out to be lacking.
Sex toy shopping can be pretty overwhelming if you’re not sure what you’re after. But if you arm yourself with some information about what will serve your body and allow yourself to consider all the options before you buy, you’ll be more likely to choose a toy that will give you years of pleasure and exciting play.