illustration showcasing the different types of vibrators available for use. it says “6 types to choose from, explore one or mix and match” at the top in black text against a light rose-colored background, followed by each vibrator, each depicted in light blue against and pale pink background. from top left: external clitoral vibrator, internal vaginal vibrator, combo internal and external vibrator. from bottom left: anal vibrator with remote, prostate vibrator with remote, penis vibrator. illustration with a pale pink and light rose color-blocked background separated by a wavy line across the middle. in the top left, a hand is wearing a gold bullet vibrator ring. in the middle, a hand holds a light blue combo internal and external vibrator. on the right, a hand holds a black penis vibrator.Share on Pinterest
Illustrations by Brittany England

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New to vibrators? Here’s how to get the best bang for your buck.

Whether you use it alone or with a partner, a buzzy buddy can make your sex life a whole lot more interesting.

“Vibrators are tools that bring a lot of pleasure into your sex life,” says Cassandra Corrado, a trauma-informed sex educator.

“This is especially true for people with limited mobility and certain disabilities, who might not be able to reach or stimulate their genitals.”

Ditto for folks with bigger bodies who have a difficult time reaching their bits, says pleasure educator Carly S., founder of Dildo or Dildon’t.

“Some people who have experienced sexual trauma find that the sensation of hands on their body is a trigger,” adds Corrado. “For these folks, being able to masturbate hands-free can be incredibly healing.”

“If you can, go to a store,” says Corrado. “You’re able to get your hands on the vibrators you might purchase, and there are sex experts on the floor who can answer any questions you might have.”

If you don’t live in a city where sex-positive, feminist sex shops are aplenty, there are some fabulous online sex toy retailers who ship discreetly:

An added perk of shopping online? The user reviews! They’re almost always ridiculously lengthy, creative, and amazingly descriptive.

Just don’t base your purchase solely on an internet person vouching for it.

“What works for one person’s body may not work for yours,” says Carly S.

No need to totally reinvent the wheel (er, rub). Think about what sensations you already enjoy during either partnered or solo sex.

“Knowing what places you like to be touched can make it easier to find a tool that helps you touch that place in a feel-good way,” says Carly S.

If you enjoy (or think you might enjoy) clitoral stimulation

Nub-rubbers to the front! If you prefer to play without penetration, or love to shine your pearl during vaginal-penetrative intercourse, opt for a clitoral vibrator.

Sometimes called an external vibrator, there are, like, a billion different types and shapes of clitoral vibrators.

Wand, bullet, and palm vibrators are the most common categories.

Shop for bullet vibrators like the We-Vibe Tango and Unbound Palma. These are small, quieter, vibrators with buzzy vibrations that only focus on one area, explains Carly S.

Check out wand vibrators like the Le Wand or the Magic Wand. They have a long handle for easier reach, are louder, and much more intense.

Grab stone-shaped palm vibrators, such as the We-Vibe Wish or Dame Pom, which are basically a middle ground between the two.

Because the toy can be held at different angles, palm vibes work well for folks who enjoy broad-stimulation when they’re warming up but need targeted stimulation to get off.

When you’re shopping for a clit vibe, you’ll notice that there’s another type of toy called clit suction vibrators.

These aren’t technically vibrators. They use air to create a sucking sensation on your clit.

“Unfortunately, the only way to know if you’ll like a clit suction toy is to try it,” says Carly S.

If you enjoy having your clit sucked during oral sex, the Womanizer Premium or Satisfyer Pro may be worth a try, she says.

If you enjoy (or think you might enjoy) internal vaginal stimulation

Think about whether you like it deepdeepdeep or slightly shallow.

During penetrative sex, do you find yourself pulling your partner deeper inside you? Do you L-O-V-E doggy style or riding on top?

Chances are it’s because you enjoy having your cervix (C-spot) or your anterior fornix zone (A-spot) stimulated, both of which are at the back of the vaginal canal.

To replicate this deep, or deep and full, sensation, opt for a long insertable vibrator like the LELO Liv 2, Fun Factory Stronic G, or Unbound Bender.

If, however, you enjoy having the front few inches of your vaginal canal stimulated, you probably enjoy G-spot stimulation.

Shop for a G-spot vibrator like the LELO Gigi, Dame Arc, or Satisfyer Petting Hippo instead.

If you enjoy (or think you might enjoy) internal and external stimulation

You’re going to want a rabbit vibe, which features a longer “shaft” for internal use and an external attachment for clitoral stimulation.

This is actually the type of toy Carly S. most often recommends to new vibrator users. “Because you don’t have to use it internally if you don’t want to, they’re very versatile.”

Some expert-recommended rabbit vibrators you can find online:

If you enjoy (or think you might enjoy) anal stimulation

Yes, there are vibrators that can gift you the gift of anal pleasure (and maybe even an anal orgasm).

Think about whether you want something that replicates anal intercourse, meaning it can move and thrusts in and out of you, or something goes in and stays put (like a butt plug).

“If you’re getting a toy that goes in and out, and you’re planning to use it solo, you want something that has reach,” says Carly S.

She recommends a double-ended vibrating dildo like the LoveHoney Strapless Strap-On or Fun Factory Share.

If you’d prefer the sensation of sustained pressure, she recommends a vibrating butt plug like the b-Vibe Rimming Plug.

“Whatever toy you put in your butt, remember that it needs to have a base that keeps it firmly planted outside the body,” she says.

If you enjoy (or think you might enjoy) prostate stimulation

Corrado explains that the prostate is located 2 to 3 knuckles deep into the rectum in penis-having folks.

“Stimulating this patch of tissue can feel really good because the prostate has a lot of nerves and is very sensitive.”

Unlike most other anal toys, which are straight or carrot-shaped, the LELO Hugo and other prostate toys are curved to help you reach the P-spot.

Just make sure to start slow.

“If you’ve never explored prostate stimulation before, use the toy without turning on the vibrations first,” says Corrado. “The vibrations can be too intense for some.”

If you enjoy (or think you might enjoy) penis stimulation

The first question to answer is: Do you want to experience vibration and constriction, or just vibration?

“The most common penis vibrator is a cock ring with a vibrator attached,” says Corrado. These go around the base of the penis to constrict blood flow, while also adding vibration to the penis.

A penis vibrator, like the LELO Tor 2, can also be worn during penile-vaginal intercourse to stimulate the vulva owner’s clitoris.

“If you don’t want constriction, there are also vibrating masturbators like the Hot Octopuss Pulse Duo, which you can either use to jerk your penis off, or place your penis into and let the toy do its thing,” says Corrado.

Unfortunately, there are still some vibrators on the market that aren’t body-safe. That means buying a vibe takes a little consumer savvy.

Nonporous > porous

If you remember one thing from this guide make it this: If you’re buying a vibrator, it needs to be made of nonporous material.

“Porous essentially means that there are microscopic holes in the toy (that you won’t be able to see) that can trap bacteria and keep you from getting the toy fully clean,” explains Corrado.

“If you can’t fully clean the toy, each time you use it, you could introduce bacteria to your bits, which could lead to infection.”

Avoid these porous materials:

  • jelly latex
  • jelly-rubber
  • polyvinyl chloride (PVC)
  • thermoplastic rubber (TPR)
  • thermoplastic elastomer (TPE)

You want a toy made out of a nonporous (read: fully cleanable) material, like:

  • silicone
  • ABS plastic
  • stainless steel

For first-time vibe users, silicone is best

In addition to being completely body-safe, silicone transmits vibration really well, is super soft, and very easy to clean.

If you’re feeling fancy-schmancy, you might check out the Le Wand Chrome Collection, which features silicone-stainless hybrid toys which are *mwah* lover’s kiss.

Find the Le Wand Point palm-shaped vibrator, while the Le Wand Grand Bullet supersized bullet vibrator online.

Sex tech is having a helluva moment.

The good news is if there’s a feature you’re looking for, there’s def a sex toy on the market that has it.

The bad news is all those options can be a little overwhelming.

“Think about what features you’d actually use or benefit from instead of trying to get the most-high tech vibrator out there,” says Carly S.

Waterproof

If the bath and shower is already one of the places you like to get down, get a waterproof vibe.

Same goes if bathing is part of your self-care routine and you can visualize yourself using a vibe in the bath.

“Toys you can use in the bath or shower are especially great for folks who don’t have a ton of privacy in their sleeping zones, like college kids or people who live with their parents,” says Corrado.

Note: Some sex toys are marketed as water-resistant, but this isn’t the same thing as waterproof.

“Water-resistant toys are ones that you can put underwater to get clean, you can probably use it in the shower, but the toy can’t handle being submerged in a bathtub or pool,” says Corrado.

App and remote controlled

Some vibrators can be controlled by a connected app or remote control. Pretty wild, right?

“Both are great options for folks with mobility issues and bigger bodies, because you don’t have to fiddle with hard-to-reach buttons between your legs,” says Carly S.

“And sex toys with apps, like the We-Vibe Sync and We-Vibe Moxie, are a great way to play around with a long-distance partner.”

Rechargeable vs. battery powered

Nowadays, most vibrators are rechargeable.

If you don’t mind buying batteries every few months and you’re on a budget, battery-operated is decent pick.

“They may not have as many intensity settings or other bells and whistles, but they’re way cheaper,” says Corrado.

“If you don’t visually like the toy, you’re not going to want to f*ck with it, so don’t get it,” says Carly S. “Trust your gut and buy what you’re most attracted or drawn to.”

And don’t feel like you need to spend a ton of $$. Really!

“So long as you’re willing to spend $30, you can get a good vibrator made out of a body-safe material,” adds Carly S. Phew.

While you’re at it…

Buy lube

Lube, lube, and more lube!

“Lube cuts down on friction, which increases pleasure,” says Carly S. “And the lube disperses vibration, making them feel better [and] helping you not get that itchy overstimulated feeling.”

If you’re using a silicone toy, grab a water-based lube like Sliquid Sassy.

And sex toy cleaner

Is this a must? Nope! “But if you’re super sensitive to soaps or lazy after masturbating, I think sex toy cleaner is worth it,” says Carly S.

Before you get all up in and around your genitals, spend some time familiarizing yourself with your new toy.

“Get to know the buttons and different intensities so that when it’s not directly in your line of sight, you’ll be able to control all the buttons,” says Carly S.

Trust, there’s nothing quite as shocking as when you accidentally ramp a toy all the way up when you’re trying to turn it down a notch…

Use it on your nongenital erogenous zones

Vibes aren’t just for your bits.

They can also be used to stimulate and “turn on” your other erogenous zones, like your neck, armpits, inner thigh, and feet.

“You might feel silly using a vibrator on your arms and legs at first,” says Carly S. “But it’s a really great way to get to know your toy and prep your whole body for play.”

Try it over your underwear

This is especially important if you know you have a super sensitive clit or shaft!

Because the combination of cotton and vibration can be a little… chafe-y, swap out your usual skivvies for something satin or silk.

This will create some slide and glide between your body, the underwear, and the toy.

Adding a dab of lube on the underside of your panties can also help reduce friction.

Experiment with pressure and angle

Beyond what intensity you queue the vibe up to, the pressure and angle you use to press the toy against your bits matters, too!

Different sensations to try:

  • squeezing or muscling the vibrator against your body
  • laying on top of the toy or “riding”
  • using it to “tickle” your genitals
  • tapping it against your body in a steady rhythm

Take advantage of the settings

TBH, it’s pretty hard to get turned on when your room smells like leftover salmon and you’ve got clothes thrown everywhere.

That’s why Carly S. recommends setting the scene. “Think about doing something that will ignite each of your five senses.”

Her go-to tips and tricks:

  • Sound. Play a sexy playlist, turn on audio porn, or listen to an erotica audiobook.
  • Sight. Clean your room, turn on porn, or look at photos of your boo(s).
  • Smell. Light a candle.
  • Taste. Brush your teeth, taste yourself, or eat some dark chocolate.
  • Touch. That’s what your vibrator and hands are for!

Now that you know what you like, experiment with edging

If you’re somebody who orgasms and has learned how to use the toy to make yourself come, you might try edging (aka orgasm control).

Edging is the practice of getting closecloseclose to coming, backing away, immediately building yourself up again, and then continuing to repeat the two phases until you can’t stand it any longer.

Corrado says this can increase someone’s body awareness, as well as lead to incredibly powerful orgasms.

If using a vibrator feels good when it’s just you, think about how freaking hot it would be to use it with your Number One!

Here’s how to bring it to introduce the idea to your partner.

Wait until you’re not having sex

“Definitely don’t have this conversation when you’re already having sex,” says Corrado.

“Have it when everyone is clothed, and you’re enjoying an open, loving, low-stress moment or day together.”

Frame it as an addition, not a criticism

It’s not that your sex life is “bad” and you want to add a sex toy to make it better, it’s about adding something to your sex life that you might both enjoy.

For instance:

  • “I’ve been using this toy while I masturbate, and I think it could be really hot to use it together.”
  • “Have you ever tried using a sex toy before? I think that might be something really fun to explore together?”
  • “I just read this article about vibrators, and I think it sounds really fun? Would a date night to a sex toy shop together be something you might enjoy?”
  • “I think it could be really hot to watch you get yourself off with a vibrator… Is that something you might be interested in?”

Be prepared to reassure your partner

“Make sure your partner knows that adding a vibrator to your sex life isn’t about replacing them, but about accessorizing the sex you have together,” says Carly S.

Shop for a sex toy together

Sex shop date nights are in! Movie date nights are out!

“Purchasing a vibrator together can be a really intimate and fun experience for a couple,” says Carly S. “And [it] can make the addition feel a little more like a joint or collaborative decision.”

Encourage them to use their own toy or vibrator

“Vibrators can do things that humans can’t do, like thrust underwater for an hour, or move really fast back and forth without getting tired,” says Carly S.

“Encourage your partner to think about whether there’s a sex toy they might want to try on their own body.”

Once you both have a toy you like, try using them in front of each other. Mutual masturbation is hot, folks!

If you have bacterial vaginosis, a yeast infection, or an STI and you use your vibrator then give it to your partner to use, the risk of your partner contracting the infection is high.

“Unless you and your partner are already fluid-bonded, you’re going to want to wash your toy before swapping who’s using it,” says Corrado. “Or use a barrier protection method that you can swap out between uses.”

Research studies show that cleaning may not be effective enough when sharing sex toys during the same encounter, so using condoms or other barrier methods is a better method to reduce STI transmission.

Whether you used it alone or with your sex mates, it’s good practice to clean it after getting down to business.

“If your vibrator is made of a nonporous material like silicone, you can simply wash it with warm water and a non-scented, antibacterial soap,” says Carly S.

Dry it, then store it away in a cloth or silk bag.

“Silicone can attract a lot of hair, fur, and dust, so if you don’t store it away in one of these bags, it’ll get gunky,” says Corrado.

PSA: There’s no wrong way to use a vibrator!

Vibrators exist to make you feel good, and nothing halts pleasure quite like pressure.

So if you’re feeling stressed about using it right, be assured that so long as you’re feeling good, you’re doing A-Ohhh-kay.


Gabrielle Kassel is a New York–based sex and wellness writer and CrossFit Level 1 Trainer. She’s become a morning person, tested over 200 vibrators, and eaten, drunk, and brushed with charcoal — all in the name of journalism. In her free time, she can be found reading self-help books and romance novels, bench-pressing, or pole dancing. Follow her on Instagram.