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- What does your name mean and how do you pronounce it?
- How did you get your start?
- How many toys do you own? How do you clean and store them?
- How many times do you test a toy before you review it?
- What are your favorite toys / lube?
- What are your favorite G-spot toys?
- What is the worst toy you’ve ever tried?
- What does your boyfriend think of all this, you trollop?
- What is that-one-toy in your header?
- What is #dildoholiday?
- How can I get into reviewing?
- Which companies should I buy from (and NOT buy from)?
- Should I buy sex toys on Amazon?
- When I buy a sex toy online, will it be shipped discreetly?
- If I use vibrators, am I going to become desensitized or numb? Can I become addicted to sex toys? WHAT IF I CAN’T GET OFF WITH MY FINGERS? AM I RUINED?
- How do I know if a sex toy is body-safe or toxic?
- What are your tips for traveling with sex toys?
- What are your favorite porn movies and pornstars?
- Why do you hate rabbit vibrators so much?
- Why do you hate pink so much?
Specific sex toy suggestions:
- I’ve never owned a sex toy or have owned all shitty ones. What would you suggest to a beginner?
- How on earth do I choose a toy if I don’t know what I like?
- I’m on a budget and need an inexpensive toy. What would you suggest?
- Help! I need to pick out a sex toy gift for someone else!
- I want to find my G-spot / learn to squirt. Toy suggestions and tips plz!
- I want to explore anal play for the first time. Suggestions?
- I’m a virgin/new to vaginal penetration. Toy suggestions and tips?
- I want a strong vibe. What would you suggest?
- I want a gentler vibe. What would you suggest?
- I want a remote-controlled vibe that doesn’t suck. What would you suggest?
- I want a double-ended dildo. What would you suggest?
- I want a body-safe dildo with a suction cup base. What would you suggest?
What does your name mean and how do you pronounce it?
My name means a lot to me. I pronounce it eh-PIF-er-uh, like this creeper. Several outsiders have incorrectly pronounced it ep-i-FOR-a, with an emphasis on the FOR. Just remember that the emphasis is on the PIF, as in “Ask Piph.”
The word Epiphora has many meanings, but I chose it for its literary definition, which is “the repetition of the same words at the end of successive phrases.” Mostly I just thought it was a pretty word, and I like the letter E. (I’ve written here about how the name evolved into a part of my identity.) Only later did I learn that it also means “the excessive production of tears,” and that there are both a fungus and a moth named Epiphora.
Readers and friends have come up with much cooler reasons for my name. Someone once told me that they thought I named myself Epiphora because my posts are so funny that they’ll make you cry. Another person found a definition of epiphora in the book Eros the Bittersweet that I absolutely love, and that I have stolen as though it was what I meant in the first place: “a change or shift of distance bringing two heterogeneous things close to reveal their kinship.”
How did you get your start?
My reviewing of sex toys began in fall of 2007. I was stupidly inexperienced with sex toys and only owned one, the Turbo Glider, but when I saw an opportunity to get free toys in exchange for writing reviews for an online sex toy shop, I was all over that shit. I’ve always loved writing, masturbating, and voicing my opinion, so it made sense. All I needed to do was learn more about the sex toy industry, so I devoured information about it along the way.
In fall of 2008, I launched this blog — and have been rabidly collecting and reviewing sex toys here ever since. Being a professional masturbator isn’t always sunshine and roses, but it has its perks… like that one time a stranger gifted me a $1,300 sex machine.
Want to do what I do? Check out my in-depth beginner’s guide to sex toy reviewing and blogging and my online course for budding sex bloggers!
How many toys do you own? How do you clean and store them?
As far as cleaning goes, I take the cheap route: dish soap and water. I froth them under the kitchen sink, scrub with an old toothbrush (or my fingers) in the nooks and crannies, rinse, and set them on a paper towel to dry. Sometimes I dry them immediately with a paper towel if I need to put them away right then. I don’t really see the point of sex toy cleaning spray, but then again I don’t have to worry about leaving my gunky sex toys on the kitchen counter, either.
For removing the smell from butt toys, I usually use a 10% bleach, 90% water solution. I spray the toy down, let it sit for a few minutes, then rinse thoroughly.
How many times do you test a toy before you review it?
It really varies, but I’d say at least five times. I take notes and work on my review as I go along. Sometimes I’ll be finishing my review and realize there’s some other way I didn’t test the toy yet, so I’ll have to go do that. But usually I know when I’ve used the toy enough times to fully understand my feelings about it.
What are your favorite toys / lube?
All my favorites are marked with heart icons on my toybox page. My favorite clitoral vibes are the Eroscillator, Wahl, Hitachi Magic Wand Rechargeable, Vibratex Mystic Wand, Leaf Life, We-Vibe Touch, and LELO Mia. I also love (to the point of thinking everyone with a clitoris should own) the LELO Mona 2, which can be either a clit toy or an insertable, and the similarly versatile L’Amourose Prism V and We-Vibe Rave.
My favorite dildos are the Vixen Creations Maverick, njoy Pure Wand, NobEssence Seduction, Jopen Key Comet G Wand, Tantus Cush O2, Crystal Delights Star Delight, Vixen Creations Randy, Tantus Splash, Crystal Delights Twist, Vixen Creations Mustang, and Whipspider Rubberworks Jellyfish.
The only vibrating insertables I’ve ever truly loved (with vibration on, specifically) were the LELO Mona 2 and Fun Factory Big Boss. The Fun Factory Stronic Eins doesn’t vibrate, but it THRUSTS, and I fucking adore it.
My favorite other items are the LELO Luna Beads, Liberator Throe, and Spareparts Hardwear Joque harness. My boyfriend loves his Fleshlight. I don’t review lube because I don’t think I’m very perceptive about it, but I’m a hardcore Sliquid fanatic because all their stuff is glycerin- and paraben-free. I keep my lube in an converted automatic dispenser.
What are your favorite G-spot toys?
I find that a lot of toys hit my G-spot nowadays, as long as they have a curve or pronounced head. But I particularly love my njoy Pure Wand, NobEssence Seduction, Jopen Key Comet G Wand, Vixen Creations Maverick and Buck, We-Vibe Rave, Fun Factory Stronic Eins, Vixen Creations Randy, Crystal Delights Twist, and LELO Mona 2. Of course, shout-out to the LELO Ella for making me squirt for the first time.
It just depends on what kind of sensation I’m in the mood for. Maverick is squishy and huge, great for filled-up thrusting. The Pure Wand is a G-spotting god, but I actually tend to prefer the Seduction because its stimulation is even more intense. Fun Factory Stronic Eins if I want to be lazy and let the toy thrust for me. Randy is a beast. The Twist offers the most unique sensation, as I actually do “twist” it against my G-spot. If I want vibrations on my G-spot, I’ll pick up my Mona 2 or We-Vibe Rave. The Jollet is good for stationary or hands-free G-spot stimulation.
These are my personal favorites, though. If you’re just starting out on your G-spot journey, my suggestion would be the Vixen Creations Mustang or Woody, Tantus Acute, Godemiche Ambit, Pleasure Works Siren, LELO Ella, Tantus Slow Drive, Tantus Sport, or a glass toy with a curved head, like this one or this one.
What is the worst toy you’ve ever tried?
I don’t know, maybe the one that felt like it was scraping my insides? The one that felt like a terrible speculum? The one that made me embarassed to have even tried it? The one that poked my ass, or the one that clogged my vagina? The one that made me feel like I pooped my pants? It’s hard to say, but I also have a special hate for vibes that are way too weak or ridiculously overpriced.
What does your boyfriend think of all of this, you trollop?
We’ve been together for 11 years, so I started reviewing a couple years into our relationship. He has never been weird about toys at all, and if he was, we’d have a problem. I have very little tolerance for people who not only feel threatened by toys, but don’t understand the benefit of them. Jealousy is ugly — even more so when you’re jealous of something that brings your partner pleasure. And uh, sex toys are objects; people are people. If you’re too dense to get that, I don’t want to know you.
I try to convince my boyfriend to try more toys made for penises, but it’s like pulling teeth.
What is that-one-toy in your header?
I’m glad you asked! I’ve written a legend for my header to satisfy your curiosity.
What is #dildoholiday?
#dildoholiday is a hashtag I created with my sex blogger friends to use whenever we go on trips together. We use it to document all the ridiculous hijinks that take place when sex bloggers hang out, such as dissecting vibrators, testing toys, and watching bad sex documentaries.
During the most epic #dildoholiday ever, 7 of us converged at a beach house and spent our days giggling, drinking tequila mixed with Thin Mint creamer, and blowing our own glass dildos (!!!).
How can I get into reviewing?
First, check out my in-depth beginner’s guide to sex toy reviewing and blogging, and don’t forget to read my 15 rules for writing a sex toy review that doesn’t royally suck. If you want to learn all my secrets, I suggest enrolling in my online course for budding sex bloggers!
Which companies should I buy from (and NOT buy from)?
Should I buy sex toys on Amazon?
I generally advise people against buying on Amazon unless they must, because sex toy boutiques are doing such good work out there in the world (P.S. I work at one) and they deserve your support. Also, if you want to support me as a person who perhaps informed you about the glory of the Mona 2 or Fun Factory Stronic Eins, Amazon gives me the lowest commission rate. Like, if you buy the Mona 2 directly from LELO or from Babeland, I get about $28. If you buy the Mona 2 on Amazon, I get less than $10.
I will say this about Amazon: if the price of a toy seems too good to be true — someone’s being undercut. Also, Amazon is sex-negative. The company’s policies, such as hiding erotica books from search results and prohibiting sexually explicit blogs from joining their affiliate program, are evidence of this. Whether your moral compass allows you to care about this is another story.
I’ve reached out to some manufacturers, and nobody is very happy about the way things are sold on Amazon. Robin Stewart, the brand manager at Jopen, explained:
We instituted MAP pricing about a year ago, and it has been a very “rough road” to travel down. We do not sell JOPEN products to Amazon, and we limited our distribution to only five (5) distributors in the US. The goal was to license retailers. Part of the license agreement requires MAP pricing. As you noted, the products are out there at low prices. How do they do it? A licensed retailer is supplying Amazon, the resellers who sell on Amazon, and we or our distributor have not figured out who is selling who. It’s a “grey market” movement of the goods, and each distributor is probably servicing a legitimate retailer, who is in turn supplying Amazon. We are not happy about this and neither are mainstream markets . . . if you shop Amazon, it is not just us, it’s everyone getting discounted… in adult as well as mainstream products.
Honestly, I don’t blame you too terribly much if you decide to go with Amazon. I know how money is. I know how expensive good sex toys can be. But it is a bit of a gamble, and not really the best choice for most people involved.
When I buy a sex toy online, will it be shipped discreetly?
Yes, all reputable online sex shops mentioned on my blog ship and bill discreetly. Just check the FAQ or shipping info page on the site you want to purchase from (some examples: GoodVibes, Smitten Kitten, Babeland, SheVibe, and my favorite, Early to Bed). Your order will come in a plain brown box with an inconspicuous return address. The only exceptions are when you purchase from a shitty online sex shop (like Adam & Eve, who are known for sending follow-up junk mail) or if you purchase something that has to go through customs, and thus must be described on the box (but even then, it’ll usually say “massager” or something).
If I use vibrators, am I going to become desensitized or numb? Can I become addicted to sex toys? WHAT IF I CAN’T GET OFF WITH MY FINGERS? AM I RUINED?
Long answer: as with many things, we can become accustomed to stuff over time. That applies to sex and masturbation as well. You can fall into a routine with your sex toys just as you can fall into a routine with a partner (the same foreplay, same positions, etc). Our bodies actually grow nerve pathways in response to stimulation. So with repetition, your body will come to expect certain triggers in order to orgasm. But these triggers can always be re-established by switching things up.
Yes, if you only ever have orgasms with vibrators, it will probably become more difficult to orgasm with your fingers. That doesn’t mean you can’t orgasm using your fingers (unless you’ve never been able to, which is also totally fine), but simply that you’re out of practice.
Physically, vibrators cannot permanently numb you or ruin your orgasmic response. The only actual “desensitization” that you can ever experience with a vibrator is temporary. Just as your hand will become numb if you hold a really strong vibrator against it, so will your vulva. This happens when nerve endings become fatigued. It’s harmless, and once the vibration ceases, sensation will return fairly quickly as blood returns to the genitals.
In general, though, can we stop with the endless fingers vs. vibrators debate? I’ve barely brought myself to orgasm with my fingers since, like, high school, AND I TURNED OUT FINE. Really, though… it’s a lot of unnecessary worrying. If you get off with something, hooray! Celebrate! Keep doing it! There is no hierarchy of pleasure which places fingers at the top. Come on, they are ancient compared to the vibrator technologies we have now.
Another thing people worry about unnecessarily is whether dildos (especially large ones) will make them “loose.” Again, no. Read up on vaginal elasticity. Vaginas are made to birth babies and then snap back, you guys. They can deal with dildos.
I take issue with the word “addiction” as well. Most clinical definitions of “addiction” characterize it as something harmful and compulsive. There is nothing harmful about using a sex toy. While it is possible for a person to become obsessed with any object or behavior, there is nothing about vibrators in particular that evokes this kind of attachment. Honestly, I think this rumor has been circulated by insecure men who think their almighty penises will be “replaced” by sex toys.
There is something else I would like to address in answering this question. It seems like the underlying reason this question comes up all the time is because people are worried about sex with a partner. They’re worried they won’t be able to have an orgasm during sex without a vibrator. Yo, world, it’s okay to use vibrators during sex! If that is what you need to get off, fucking take charge and make it happen. If your partner bellyaches about it, then I guess they don’t want you to have orgasms and you should probably dump them.
Seriously, though, watch Tristan Taormino’s Expert Guide to Female Orgasms and get some great suggestions for incorporating vibrators into partnered sex.
How do I know if a sex toy is body-safe or toxic?
There’s no easy way, because the sex toy industry is unregulated and companies can produce things and label them however they want. Horror stories abound of toxic toys causing irritation, burning, rashes, and more. Toxic toys can off-gas, leaching oils and smells, and they can melt and degrade over time. Here’s a good recent article about toxic toys, and here are a couple older ones. Phthalates, a class of chemicals used to soften plastics, tend to be the culprit a lot of the time, but there are other things to worry about too.
You can do a flame test to determine if something is silicone, but it’s not as reliable as we’d all hope. There is one pretty surefire way to know: if the toy is soft, clear, and smells like a new shower curtain, it’s likely toxic. Bex has a good quick guide here.
But it’s really a matter of trusting certain companies over others. Certain companies use specialty materials, like glass (Crystal Delights, Fucking Sculptures), wood (NobEssence), and stainless steel (njoy), and those are all a-OK. Some companies utilize a lot of hard plastic, and those are fine too (Aneros, Bswish, Evolved Novelties, Vibratex).
These are the companies that use 100% pure silicone exclusively and make things without incorporated motors: Tantus, Vixen Creations, Happy Valley/Fuze, Hole Punch Toys, Downunder Toys, BS Atelier, and Vamp. Then, these vibrator makers have committed to body-safe materials only: Crave, Fun Factory, Je Joue, Jimmyjane, Jopen, Leaf, L’Amourose, LELO, Minna, Nexus, OhMiBod, PicoBong, Tickler, and We-Vibe.
The companies you have to worry about are the big ones: California Exotic Novelties, Nasstoys, Topco, Pipedream, and Doc Johnson. These companies tend to also make some body-safe products, but they are old school and still churn out tons of crap.
What are your tips for traveling with sex toys?
Contrary to your worst fears and a few unfortunate horror stories, the Transportation Safety Administration (TSA) doesn’t really give a fuck about sex toys. Whatever you bring, they’ve probably seen it before. However, that won’t stop them from being hardasses and thinking everything’s a potential weapon or bomb.
There are pros and cons to both carry-ons and checked baggage. Carry-ons won’t ever get lost, but they can be searched in front of your fellow passengers. Checked baggage is searched more discreetly, but can sometimes get lost… or return to you with your toy stolen. If you opt to put your stuff in your checked baggage, be sure to label it so the TSA won’t feel the need to disassemble it. Don’t put it in something that can’t be opened; that’s just asking for trouble.
When packing your toys, put them in plastic bags just in case a TSA agent decides to fondle them. ALWAYS remove batteries from your battery-operated toys. If your rechargeable toy has a travel lock function, use it! If not, you’ll need to drain the toy’s battery completely before travel. Buzzing vibrators notoriously make people think of bombs, and you do not want to be that person.
Dildos are an awkward thing for carry-ons. According to the TSA, “tools” less than 7 inches in length are allowed. However, if the item is “club-like” or can be mistaken as a weapon, it’s not allowed. So use common sense on that one.
Also, be sure to follow the 3-1-1 rule when packing lube in a carry-on. I like to buy a small plastic container (like one with hand sanitizer in it), wash it out, and fill it with my favorite lube. Otherwise, just pack lube samples, or stick your lube in your checked baggage (after taping it shut like a fiend).
Your best defense, though, is having a positive and nonchalant attitude. Some people may be embarrassed by sex toys, but you don’t have to be. Try not to be nervous, and if an agent questions you about one of your toys, don’t dodge the question — just calmly explain what it is.
What are your favorite porn movies and pornstars?
My favorite performers are Sasha Grey, Kimberly Kane, Danny Wylde, Belladonna, Joanna Angel, Christian, Tori Black, Evan Stone, Amber Rayne, Billy Castro, Sinn Sage, Derrick Pierce, Sean Michaels, Bobbi Starr, Roxy Deville, Wolf Hudson, Dylan Ryan, and Sinnamon Love.
I don’t tend to watch movies in full unless I have to review them, but my favorites would be My Own Master, Rough Sex, Belladonna’s Strapped Dykes, Live In My Secrets, and all volumes of Tristan Taormino’s Chemistry series. Out of the things I haven’t reviewed, I seem to recall enjoying Belladonna: Sexual Explorer, Morphine, Shut Up and Fuck, Frisk Me, Beautiful Stranger, Wasteland, and Tori Black is Pretty Filthy 2.
Why do you hate rabbit vibrators so much?
Here’s what I hate: there are so many variables with rabbit/dual vibes that can go wrong. You have the shaft as well as the clitoral stimulator. If one of those doesn’t fit your body correctly, the toy is nearly useless to you, because there’s pretty much only one way to use a dual vibe. They’re way more limiting than other toys. Also, I’ve never found a rabbit that felt extremely pleasurable both internally and externally.
Another reason I don’t like them is that I like to be able to control the pressure and movement in my vagina and against my clit. With a rabbit, if I want clitoral stimulation, I can’t really thrust with the toy. If I want different clitoral stimulation, I have to manipulate the toy in a potentially awkward fashion. Basically, I can’t get rabbit vibes to do what I want. I much prefer just using two toys and holding one in each hand. And I’m lazy, so that tells you a lot.
At work a woman lamented wasting $170 on a dual vibe that didn't fit at ALL. Reminded me the importance of reviews. Also FUCK RABBIT VIBES
— Epiphora (@Epiphora) March 18, 2016
Rabbit vibes are extremely well-known and so people always assume they are the be-all-end-all to sex toys for vulvas, which is another reason I feel grumpy about them. I would advise you to consider whether you want penetration every time you go to use the toy, or whether you’d prefer a toy which can be used for clitoral stimulation OR penetrative play, depending on your mood. Something more versatile, in my opinion, is a lot better as a first toy.
(If you must know, the PicoBong Kaya isn’t horrible, and I like the We-Vibe Nova and Lovelife Adventure, but I would never definitively say everyone should own them because clits and vaginas are so differently spaced in all people.)
Why do you hate pink so much?
I’ve never owned a sex toy or have owned all shitty ones. What would you suggest?
It’s difficult to recommend something without knowing more about what someone is looking for. But generally you are going to want body-safe, non-porous materials. In terms of vibrators, something rumbly with variety in the vibration strengths is good for a beginner. A nice clitoral vibe like the LELO Mia or PicoBong Ako is an excellent choice. If you can swing it, the LELO Mona 2 is amazing, but you can spend less money and get similar versatile functionality with the L’Amourose Prism V, We-Vibe Rave, or OhMiBod Lovelife Cuddle.
A less expensive option might be to find a fun first timer’s kit. Early to Bed has this one and this deluxe version. Good Vibes’ Wild at Heart Kit is a good choice, or Babeland’s Vibrator Starter Kit or Orgasm in a Box. You’ll notice a trend here: I’m in favor of the Silver Bullet (or something else similar) as a cheap beginner’s toy because it has a range of power and can be enhanced with softer sleeves.
As far as insertables go, get yourself something nice from a good company such as Tantus, Vixen Creations, Fun Factory, LELO, njoy, Crystal Delights, or NobEssence. These companies all use tip-top materials, so the toy you choose will last you a very long time, if not forever.
If you are new to penetration, I’d suggest a dildo that is about 1.25″ in diameter or less that is made of either silicone or glass. Nothing too textured or weirdly shaped or with too drastic a curve at the tip. My choices would be the Tantus Acute, the Tantus Warm-Up, the Tantus Compact, the Tantus Silk series, the Vixen Creations Spur or Mustang (expensive, I know, but the material is AMAZING and as squishy as you can get while still being silicone), or the Vixen Mistress.
Read this question for my suggestions on beginner’s anal toys.
How on earth do I choose a toy if I don’t know what I like?
Get a toy that is versatile! If you have a vagina, I suggest something that can function as both a G-spot vibe and a clitoral vibe, something like the We-Vibe Rave, LELO Mona 2, L’Amourose Prism V, OhMiBod Lovelife Cuddle, or PicoBong Moka. That way you can try it many ways: as a non-vibrating G-spotter, as a vibrating G-spotter, and as a clitoral toy. Hopefully you’d like at least one of those ways!
An option for clitoral stimulation would be a hummer type vibe, which has two sides, one pinpoint and one more diffuse. You could also get a vibe that comes with a bunch of attachments, like the Mood Flirty or Revitalize Massage Kit. Or, pick up a Silver Bullet and trick it out with some sleeve attachments like the Diving Dolphin or Wild Hare.
In terms of dildos, maybe something double-ended with different sensations like the LELO Ella or glass G-Spotter. Also, I only know of one person (out of a billion) who didn’t love the Pure Wand, which is good odds.
It’ll be hard to know how you feel about different materials until you feel and experience them. If you have access to a local sex toy shop, visit it and see which items intrigue you. Figure out which ones get good reviews and go from there. You’re going to have to spend some money, but with research, you hopefully won’t waste it. The more stuff you buy, the more you’ll know what you like, so you gotta just bite the bullet!
I’m on a budget and need an inexpensive toy. What would you suggest?
For the purpose of this answer I’m going to define inexpensive as $40 or less. Then I’ll break it down by type of toy.
P.S. SheVibe tends to have the best prices, and always check my sales & deals page to find sex toy sales. Plus, the static coupon code EPIPHORA will always get you 10% off at Early to Bed, Lovehoney, Sliquid, Downunder Toys, and Pucker Up.
First things first: if you want sheer power, the Wahl is the best $20 you can spend. It is not, however, ergonomic. Or subtle.
Then: get something better than a watch battery bullet, trust me. You don’t want it to take N batteries or watch batteries, and it should take more than one AA or AAA. A cheap silver bullet like this (or something else similar) is always good to have around. The PicoBong Ako is pretty rad (Moka if you want an insertable). The Turbo Glider was my amigo for quite some time (although it is loud), and after that I really loved the Xtreme Pack G-spot Bullet, until I moved on to rechargeables. I’ve heard good things about the Velvet Touch, Black Magic Bullet, and Dream Massager G.
The thing about cheaper vibrators is that they’re all battery-powered, and batteries mean noise and surface-level vibrations. If you can spare some extra money, get the OhMiBod Lovelife Cuddle ($69), L’Amourose Prism V ($99), or LELO Mia 2 ($85), which are rechargeable and have more settings than typical cheaper toys.
Pleasure Works (Good Vibes’ in-house brand) makes some affordable silicone dildos, such as the Bullseye, Your Highness, Right Spot, and Charm. You can also get some epic dildo deals in Tantus’ closeout section. Tantus is the shit and their dildos generally sell for more like $60, so these are great deals. Godemiche dildos are also very well-priced.
A lot of glass toys from the bigger companies are under $30. My suggestions there would be the Midnight Joy, Magnificent, or Rainbow Mega Nubby. There’s also the $22 Galaxy G, which is made of acrylic. I try to avoid Pipedream like the plague, but their Icicles line may be one time I could condone giving them money. Maybe.
Other 100% silicone dildos from bigger companies: the Sedeux Flare and Please from Sportsheets; anything in the Platinum line from Doc Johnson; Fiji from California Exotic. All the dildos in California Exotic’s Love Rider line, and Pipedream’s Fetish Fantasy Elite line are 100% silicone (BUT FILLED WITH FOAM INNER CORES; did I mention I hate Pipedream?).
Get the Fun Factory Bootie, Boosty, or anything from Tantus that appeals to you. The Fuze line from Happy Valley is also affordable. The Mood plugs from Doc Johnson and Booty Call from Cal Exotics look decent.
VAGINAL / KEGEL BALLS
(Don’t hold your breath while I recount these ridic names.) Get the California Exotic L’Amour Premium Weighted Pleasure System, Couture Eclipse, Couture Eclipse II, Dr. Laura Berman Shades of Purple Anastasia’s Delight Orgasm Balls, or (if you’re overseas) the Tracey Cox Supersex Toner Balls. These are all basically the same product with very small tweaks. Because they aren’t coated in a ton of silicone, the balls on the inside are easily felt the way my loves the LELO Luna Beads are — for less than half the price. The only downfall is the obnoxiously stretchy retrieval string.
Help! I need to pick out a sex toy gift for someone else!
Don’t even worry! I’ve written an entire guide for you.
I want to find my G-spot / learn to squirt. Toy suggestions and tips plz!
My top picks would be the Jopen Key Comet G Wand, LELO Ella, njoy Pure Wand, and NobEssence Seduction, but if you’re inexperienced with toys, it might be better for you to get something smaller and less severe, like the Vixen Creations Mustang or Woody, Godemiche Ambit, Pleasure Works Siren, Tantus Acute, Tantus Sport, or Tantus Slow Drive. I’ve also heard of people having success with the glass G-Spotter, and I myself first found my G-spot with a toy that merely had a pronounced head (no curve). What matters is that the toy has a pronounced or curved head, is comfortable for you, isn’t totally floppy, and is easy to thrust with.
You will absolutely want to pair this toy with a good clitoral vibe, like the Eroscillator, LELO Mona 2, Vibratex Mystic Wand, L’Amourose Prism V, Leaf Life, We-Vibe Touch, or LELO Mia. Clitoral stimulation enhances G-spot stimulation greatly.
As for squirting tips, here’s a quick run-down of how I’d suggest you do it. First prepare a nest for yourself — in a comfortable, distraction-free environment, with either the Liberator Throe or several towels under your butt. Take your time getting turned on first, even bringing yourself close to orgasm. Then, with lots o’ lube, insert your G-spot toy and start thrusting with it. Continue using the clitoral toy. Try to relax as much as possible and keep your vaginal muscles open, not clenched. Increase your thrusting speed until you start to get the need-to-pee sensation. Keep thrusting until the feeling becomes almost overwhelming, and then THRUST SOME MORE. Hopefully, hopefully, you will squirt.
I want to explore anal play for the first time. Suggestions?
You’ll want a toy of 1″ in diameter or less and made of pure silicone.
I always recommend the Fun Factory Bootie to beginners, because I love it. It’s silicone, around $30, and very fun. But Tantus is the best purveyor of silicone butt plugs, so be sure to check their selection (and their closeout section, which has awesome deals!). They have a huge range of sizes and shapes. The Little Flirt and Slim look particularly well-suited to beginners, and the Ripple Small could work if you don’t need a plug plug. (However, I think plugs are great for n00bs because they allow you to get comfortable with the sensation of something being in your ass.)
Happy Valley’s Fuze line of plugs is another good option, and those have a hole in the base for a bullet vibe.
As for lube, you’re going to want something thicker for anal, to provide cushion. And it needs to be water-based so as not to damage the toy. My favorite is Sliquid Sassy. Sliquid is amazing because all their lubes are glycerin and paraben free.
My tips for anal play are pretty simple: use lube, go slow, breathe, relax, and listen to your body. Oh, and go to the bathroom before using a plug!
I’m a virgin/new to vaginal penetration. Toy suggestions and tips?
I get this question a lot, usually accompanied by stories of attempted penetration and vaginal pain. If that sounds familiar, first I want to reassure you that what you’ve experienced is most likely* normal. I was there, in that same exact spot, years ago. I know the burning sensation and the frustration and the desire to try and just shove stuff in. It can be overcome,* but it does take time and patience.
Glass dildos tend to spring to my mind first when folks ask about this, because glass can be warmed up or cooled down, which could potentially help with the sensation. You can also use any sort of lube with it, including silicone-based and oil-based, which both last longer than water-based lube. I would suggest the Icicles No. 8, or maybe No. 2, which has a beaded shape but starts smaller.
Size is an important factor, obviously. You should definitely get something pretty smooth, and around 1 inch or less in diameter.1 The problem is a lot of toys are right on that cusp, with the exception of dilators like these, which go smaller (oh and there are glass dilators too!). Aside from their graduated side, dilators are often characterized by their straight shape. If you’d prefer a non-vibrating insertable that’s a bit more ergonomically curved, consider a silicone dildo such as the Silk, Compact, Warm Up, Spur (softest), Please, Polly, or Charm 1, or the stainless steel Fun Wand.
The relaxing quality of vibration can be useful for some folks exploring penetration, and perhaps having a toy which doubles as a clitoral vibrator might ease your mind? If so, consider a small and thin vibrator (Little Secret Whisper, Bmine, Bcute, Diamond Princess, Pleasurette) or a long and thin vibrator (Bgee, Electra, Desire, Seven). If you’d rather invest in a rechargeable, there’s the We-Vibe Tango, Crave Flex, or Jopen Lust L3.
As far as tips go, here’s what I’ve got.
- Our minds are powerful, and expectations and hopes can easily run rampant and sabotage our progress. As much as possible, it’s helpful to explore penetration without too many expectations. If it’s not working today, that’s okay.
- Warm-up with clitoral stimulation. Take your time. Get yourself good and aroused before even attempting insertion. Arousal helps open up the vagina.
- Use tons of lube, and remember that water-based lube does does dry up, so don’t be afraid to add more at any point! You should feel slick and frictionless, not dry.
- Ease the toy in very slowly while continuing to stimulate your clit. If it hurts or feels uncomfortable, slow down or stop whatever you’re doing vaginally and just focus on the clitoral pleasure instead.
- If the insertable toy vibrates, try it with the vibrations both on and off. That can change the experience dramatically.
- Remember that you are under no obligation to pursue or enjoy vaginal penetration. If you don’t like it or don’t want to explore it, that’s absolutely fine. You can have a happy sex life with or without penetration.
* If you suspect your difficulties with penetration may be related to a medical condition, check out When Sex Hurts or Healing Painful Sex, or ask your gynecologist if they can refer you to a pelvic pain therapist (you can also find therapists here). If it may be psychological or trauma-related, look into Healing Sex or The Sexual Healing Journey.
I want a strong vibe. What would you suggest?
You can’t go wrong with the Wahl. I also really like my Hitachi Magic Wand Rechargeable, Doxy Massager, LELO Mona 2, L’Amourose Rosa, Doxy Don, and Mystic Wand. Some of the strongest small rechargeable vibes I’ve found have been the ones from We-Vibe: the Touch and Tango.
Most rechargeables still haven’t caught up to plug-in toys in the power realm (with the exception of the Hitachi Magic Wand Rechargeable), but there’s always the original Hitachi, or the more adjustable Doxy or Bodywand. I’ve heard good things about the PalmPower. By and large, I do not trust rechargeable wand vibes — my Acuvibe died and the LELO ones are disappointing.
I want a gentler vibe. What would you suggest?
On the less expensive side, I would recommend any of the Tickler or Toyfriend vibes, any of the Tantus Little Secrets, any of the little vibes from PicoBong, the Fukuoku, or the Bcute. On the more expensive side, most rechargeable vibes (like the ones by LELO and Leaf) start out at a very low level when you first turn them on, which gives you some wiggle room just in case you want to move beyond the gentler settings in the future.
I want a remote-controlled vibe that doesn’t suck. What would you suggest?
Good question, because most of them are horrible! I’ve tried several and they almost always fail miserably, usually because they have shitty range, shapes that do not match bodies, batteries that die in 5 seconds flat, or they break.
The updated LELO Lyla isn’t horrible, but many people will not find an insertable egg particularly pleasurable. You probably want the We-Vibe 4. It is not the quietest thing, but it’s about the only remote-controlled vibe that will work inside underwear and is actually pleasurable. (Caveat: I have yet to try it during sex so I have no thoughts on its “main” use.)
I want a double-ended dildo. What would you suggest?
I am far from an expert in this department. I don’t have any partners that I can penetrate with things, so my experience is very limited. I can, however, give you a list of all the two-person 100% silicone double-ended dildos out there and some of the objective qualities about them.
Some of these can be used without a harness, but they really do best when stabilized by one. The ones with holes for bullet vibes usually come with shitty watch battery bullets, which I suggest swapping out for a We-Vibe Tango.
- Tantus Feeldoe, Feeldoe Slim, Feeldoe More, and Feeldoe Stout. Highly glossy, rigid silicone. Takes a bullet vibe.
- Tantus Realdoe, Realdoe Slim, and Realdoe Stout. The only realistic double-ended dildo. A matte finish and a hole for a bullet vibe.
- Fun Factory Share, Share XL, and Share XS. The only one I’ve reviewed. Very matte silicone — requires a lot of lube. The bulb is thick, which could be a downside or an asset depending on the wearer. If the person being penetrated likes texture, the Share XL is their best bet. If that person needs something small, the Share XS is their best bet. No hole for a bullet.
- Vixen Nexus Junior/Senior. Probably the squishiest. Not meant to be used without a harness. Pronounced middle can provide some cushioning. Here’s a video review of the Junior. No hole for a bullet.
- Happy Valley (Fuze) Tango. Very glossy and pretty rigid. Takes a bullet vibe. Here’s a video review from someone I trust.
- Vamp Duetto. This one has the most extreme curve to the longer part, which I bet would be great in a harness, but a quite bulky and unnecessary base. No hole for a bullet.
- BS Atelier Double Nude. Similar to the Nexus in shape. Slightly squishy. I doubt this would work without a harness. No hole for a bullet.
- Pipedream Fetish Fantasy Elite Strapless Strap-On. Uh. It’s Pipedream.
- Wet For Her Toy Four. The longer end is supposed to look sort of like fingers, I guess? Takes a bullet vibe. Here’s a review from someone I trust.
- Fun Factory New Wave/Sonic and Marc Dorcel Double Do. These are unlike the others in that they are meant for two active partners to use together. No hole for a bullet.
Questions to ponder: what sort of shape and angle does the wearer want? The person being penetrated? Do you want vibrations? Do you want to try to go without a harness (I wish you luck)? Do you, like me, have a strong opinion about the finish on your silicone (I prefer glossy)? The squish factor?
I want a body-safe dildo with a suction cup base. What would you suggest?
Some of Vixen’s toys have suction cup bases. These are, as far as I know: Maverick, Tex, Raquel, Randy, Leo, Mistress, every size of Realistic Bent, and Woody. Verify these before buying, as Vixen changes their bases sometimes and I am not 100% on all of them. Maia has the Astral and Fairy. The Nude Impressions line from Blush and NS Novelties Colours line all have them. Pipedream’s Fetish Fantasy line has quite a few, but I hate Pipedream (and these dildos are probably filled with foam).
Tantus toys do not have suction cup bases, but if they have a hole in the base (for a bullet vibe) you can buy the Tantus Suction Cup and turn them into suction cup dildos. The Suction Cup could potentially work for other dildos with holes in the base (like Happy Valley), but I’m not sure. For dildos with flat bases, Good Vibes makes a super cheap Double-Sided Suction Cup that can transform their bases into suction cups.
If you look outside the box, there are other options if what you want is to be able to ride your dildos. You could look into getting a Liberator shape that will hold dildos, such as the Wing. Or, you could get a thigh harness and strap it to a chair or other piece of furniture.
- If you’ve been penetrated with fingers, you can use that as a barometer for the size of toy that might work best. [↩]