Did you know that deep sea scientists know more about the Mariana Trench than they do about sex toys? At least, such are the conclusions we’re forced to draw when we see the Vajankle, the Shrek butt plug, and all those tentacle dildos on Etsy. While we may not be able to speak for the NOAA, we do fancy ourselves explorers of certain [hoists sail] bodily depths and horny holes. At Rec Room, we spend the better part of our days wading through the 3,000 results on Amazon alone for the terms “sex toy,” and helping you, our beloved readers, understand the difference between a direct-contact and “sonic”-stimulation clitoral toy; a bullet versus a lipstick vibrator; and all of your other salacious, sex-toy-related queries.
To penis pump, or penis sleeve? That is the question—among many—when it comes down to understanding not only how sex toys work, but which ones will work for you. The answer is always found in a blend of practical information, self-exploration, and a helping hand (or foot). Maybe you’ve never used a sex toy, or you’re just wondering why Lovehoney has a section called “Love Eggs and Jiggle Balls.” Perhaps you’d like to spice up your spank-sesh drawer with something a little kinkier than your average bullet vibrator, or maybe you’d like to finally understand why the hell they call it a “rabbit” vibrator. Whatever you’d like to know about the many types of sex toys out there, consider this short list your own horny accomplice to navigating them all, from anal beads to zapping paddles and so much more. We’ll start out with some of the most iconic sex toys on the market, and inch our way down to some of the more obscure finds. Strap in, strap on, and let’s ride.
Ah, the dildo. This is perhaps one of the most iconic sex toys, because you’ve probably seen a realistic “jelly” silicone dildo such as this one at some point in your life. One of the more traditional toys, dildos are basic penetrative toys that can come in many shapes and styles, but are almost always somewhat phallic or elongated; sometimes they’ll be made of silicone, but they can also be made out of metal and glass, such as Gem, the best-selling double-duty dildo by Unbound Babes. As with most dildos, Gem can be used for vaginal and anal penetration. Just be sure to clean your toy before and after use in any hole—and to keep your sex toys prepped and clean in general.
Bullet vibrators are a popular first sex toy, because they’re affordable vibrators that are about the size of their namesake, making them a discreet sex toy travel companion. Bullet vibes can be used during foreplay on the nipples and around (but NEVER in) the anus—don’t wanna take an embarrassing trip to the ER when you lose one up there—and they give direct stimulation to the clitoris or anywhere else on the body that gives you or your partner(s) pleasure. Many bullet vibrators run on batteries, so keep an eye out for those such as the Zee by Dame, which is fully rechargeable.
One of the best first-time sex toys for people who want direct clitoral contact is a wand vibrator, which traditionally consists of a long handle with a vibrating, bulbous tip. The most iconic wand vibrator is hands down the Magic Wand (formerly known as the Hitachi Magic Wand), because it gained widespread popularity in the 1970s by being marketed as nothing more than a general body massager, despite it’s clear talent for moonlighting as a sex toy, making it an embarrassment-free purchase. It helped pave the way for so many of the sex toys we love today (the Magic Wand walked so that Dame’s “Com” wand could run). If you’d like a sex toy that can also legit work as a massager for your back or other parts of your body, this is the one for you—but folks with more sensi clits might want to steer towards clitoral suction toys.
Clitoral Suction Vibrator
A clitoral suction vibrator is a sex toy that uses gentle sonic technology to mimic the sensation of receiving really good head, the most popular of which is the cult-fave Satisfyer Pro 2. The toy is a best-seller on Amazon with a 4.5-star rating from over 50,000 reviews, because it does what a top-notch suction vibe should by providing a fluttering, consistent air suction pressure to your clitoris to stimulate it—without ever touching it directly. Pretty cool, right?
Direct Contact Clitoral Vibrator
Many sex toys can become a direct contact clitoral vibrator if you simply apply their vibrating components to the clitoris. However, there are also vibrators such as the Zumio that are designed to go the extra mile to bring you targeted, fast-paced clitoral stimulation through direct contact. We gave the alien-probe-like sex toy an honest review, and really enjoyed how deftly the antenna works to gently tap your clit until orgasm.
Rabbit vibrators' foundational features always include a vibrating shaft or dildo and a smaller attachment that sits atop the clitoris. Sometimes, that attachment will be split in two, resembling bunny ears, to provide even more sensation—thus the name—and the overall effect is dual clitoral and internal stimulation. This style of vibrator first gained fame on that episode of Sex and the City in 1998, and has since evolved to take on many exciting forms, from futuristic luxury vibrators by brands such as LELO, to new takes on the classic form by the Fifty Shades of Grey sex toy line (which is suprisingly… amazing?).
Ah, the cock ring. How many times have we been gifted you in a bachelor/bachelorette gift party bag? Not unlike its cousin, the bullet vibrator, this sex toy is often one of the more affordable of the lot, and also one of the most discreet travel companions. The OG purpose of a cock ring is to lightly constrict blood flow around the penis, allowing for a firmer and longer lasting erection (all your questions on guillotine-ing a peen can be answered here). Some C-rings can have vibrational textured attachments for simultaneous clitoral stimulation for a partner during penetrative sex, as well as multiple loops for hugging balls—there are even penis rings made out of jelly, metal, and with as many flourishes as you can dream up.
Here’s the truth, jabroni: When most sexual wellness websites refer to “male masturbators” and “penis sleeves,” they’re often talking about toys that resemble the most iconic of the lot, the Fleshlight, which is a masturbator tool (often encased in a canister) that contains a textured tube or artificial mouth/anus/vagina. Some masturbators will allow for you to go hands-free, others vibrate, and many designs range from realistic-looking “Pocket Pussies” to Tron-inspired sleeves such as the Fleshlight Torque Ice.
New to butt stuff? Take things slow by exploring yourself or your partner’s backdoor with a well-lubed finger, or a set of anal training plugs (and more lube). The bottom line for butt plugs is that they can provide a sense of fullness and stimulation that a lot of people love, whether they vibrate or they’re made of temperature play-ready materials such as stainless steel. Just make sure you’re purchasing a toy with a flared plug, such as the Shimmy vibrating plug by Unbound Babes, because your sphincter has naturally powerful suction powers. Not only does this toy have a great handle, but we’re pretty sure Prince would have loved it.
Couples' Sex Toys
The better question might be, “What isn’t a couples' sex toy?” Common sense tells us that if you use a toy with a partner, well, then that makes it a couples' toy. That being said, many couples' toys are designed for wearing during sex or for helping partners control the timing of their orgasms, and there are many remote and app-controlled toys by brands including Lovense and We-Vibe that are specifically designed to be enjoyed by couples for a little kinky edging and dom-sub play, such as this Lush 3, which is designed to provide direct G-spot stimulation.
As with their cousin, butt plugs, many prostate massagers will vibrate, but their overall purpose is to bring a little back-door pleasure by stimulating the male prostate gland. “Internal prostate stimulation takes a softer touch,” explains Anna Pulley in the VICE guide to prostate play, “and involves more precise movements and smaller implements, such as fingers or small toys, rather than dildos or penises.” The Hugo is a popular remote-controlled prostate vibe by the luxury sex toy company LELO, and it’s equipped with one motor for the prostate and one in the base for the perineum (read: taint) for providing ~loads~ of pleasure.
Penis pumps ROCK. These toys remind us of those high-powered suction tubes at the bank, and they can temporarily enlarge the penis as well as help folks with erectile dysfunction (ED) to maintain an erection by creating a suction effect around the penis, typically in a plastic tube, courtesy of a battery or hand-powered pump and a band that fits, and increases blood flow to the penis. Edge makes a highly rated, hand-fueled pump in a clear, latex- and phthalate-free tube so that you can see all your… business.
Strap-on dildos are dildos designed to be worn, often with a harness, during sex. “Pegging can totally happen between folks of any and all genders,” explains Archie Bongiovanni in their pegging how-to guide for VICE. “After all, it’s essentially just anal sex with a strap on.” These days, there are even companies such as Fun Factory making harness-free dildos for going down to Peg City, USA, and one-and-done harness and dildo bundles such as this Unisex Strap-On by Lovehoney, so you can smash that order button and know you’re getting everything you need to start pegging.
These sex toys are often dildos or rabbit vibes that are specifically designed to mimic the thrusting power of a penis, and tend to be on the more expensive side (that kind of engineering costs money!) because they provide even more sensation to the penetrative experience. You know how that animatronic Abe Lincoln was the peak of technology at Disneyland for so many years? That’s thrusters, only for sex toy nerds. This highly rated Fun Factory toy would be a great first-time thruster, because it has a straightforward phallic design and seven speeds that are easy to control with its three buttons.
Definitely one of the more advanced sex toys, anal beads are made up of multiple balls or ribbed, spherical attachments that are designed to be gradually inserted into your anus in order to please and stimulate its many nerves. These toys are usually flexible, and as with any anal toy, will have some kind of handle or stopper at the base. These Sensual Glass Iridescent Anal Beads from Lovehoney are a great starting point—plus, they’re gorgeous.
Otherwise known as erogenous zone vibrators, these sex toys consist of a vibrator—usually one that’s rounded or shaped liked a Bintje potato—that can fit in your palm and be applied for direct, rumbly pressure to the clitoris or anywhere else on the body that gives you pleasure. They’re also one of the least-gendered vibes in sex toy design, given that they aren’t phallic, and one of our favorites is this aubergine dream by Dame. Not only is it fully rechargeable and made of super soft silicone, but it’s extremely quiet.
As with palm vibrators, finger vibes can be one of the most accessible sex toys for those who may not be able to firmly grip a sex toy, and they’re just as discreet to travel with as a bullet vibrator or a cock ring. They're also popular as couples' toys, since they can be used for focused clitoral stimulation during penetration (or whenever). Just slip this Fin vibe by Dame over your finger, and use it to please you or your partner. But please, don’t stick it up the back door. Remember: No flared base = no entry.
Traditionally, a lipstick vibrator will indeed look like a tube of lipstick, which is cool in a secret agent sort of way. But the best feature of this kind of sex toy, other than the joy of its novelty, is that the flattened tip allows for a little more direct, vibrating surface area to be applied to the clitoris. As always, Dame has a futuristic and far more minimal take on the toy with their svelte design, and we especially dig that the flat portion of the Kip has even more surface area than your average lipstick vibe.
Kegel & Ben Wa Balls
Remember that scene in Fifty Shades of Grey where Dakota Johnson’s character wears silver kegel or “Ben Wa”' balls to a black tie event? Well, those little weighted balls—NOT to be confused with jade eggs, which we shan’t touch—are simply silicone or metal balls designed to be inserted into the vagina to strengthen pelvic floor muscles, or to give a sense of fullness and stimulation.
Now that we’ve slung every last dildo over our shoulder like a Kipling fanny pack, we’re ready to get into some tantalizing BDSM (bondage/discipline, dominance/submission, and sadism/masochism) toys and savoir faire. One of the most common accessories of the kink, amongst beginners and experts alike, are restraints. Typically, beginners may enjoy starting off with Velcro hand-cuffs or cloth ties before moving onto more advanced handcuffs such as the Orion, which not only acts as a pair of belt-adjusted handcuffs, but is also capable of being slung over the door for some extra kinky times.
We were given nipples for a number of reasons, but our favorite might just be horny clamping. Nipple clamps, such as these bad boys from Bondage Boutique, walk the line between sex toy jewelery and BDSM accessory, because they’re designed to lightly pinch your nips (and sometimes, your clit) and are often secured to a stylish collar or chain that would make you the belle of the ball at any Berlin Diskothek.
Gags can take on many forms in BDSM play, but most commonly as a cloth gag around the mouth, or as a gag with a bar or a ball gag. Typically, the sphere or bar will be made of a body-safe silicone, as other materials might damage those pearly whites of yours. This gag is great for beginners, as it has a few extra holes in the ball for extra breathability.
Paddles & Riding Crops
Who doesn’t like a little spanking, now and again? Whether your dom is using a 16-inch bamboo paddle, riding crop, or a spanker that looks like it was made out of Furbies, these are great sex toys for a little kinky foreplay, or even a game of shuttlecock. This silver paddle has a 4.7-star rating on Lovehoney because it’s great for seasoned spankers and beginners alike; one side is made out of a padded satin and the other is a firmer faux leather.
Erotic electrostimulation (E-stim) is a kink in which a person enjoys receiving or giving a bit of light electric stimulation through electrically endowed paddles, wands, and patches. It’s important to practice this kink correctly, but once its parameters are understood, it can make for some fun horny Frankenstein roleplay.
…Not the kind you find blowing in your aunt’s garden. These spiky pinwheels or “Wartenberg” wheels are very common in people with a sexual medical fetish, or anyone with an especially sensory kinky side to them. As with every sex toy—and especially those falling under the traditional BDSM umbrella—be sure to use them correctly by applying only the slightest pressure to yourself or your partner, and never inserting them into your body.
Our honorable mention goes to sex furniture, otherwise known as anything you can grind or bang on, because so many folks first sexual toy/accomplice was a pillow—and look how far the humping and grinding sex toys have come since then! Brands such as Liberator make firm pillow wedges designed to be placed under your back or below your stomach for deeper penetration and more comfortable sex.
Here’s to many more horny, well-lubed nights.
The Rec Room staff independently selected all of the stuff featured in this story.