If your last experience with vibrators was getting a bullet vibe in your cousin’s hens’ night goodie bag, or walking in to an adult store and immediately walking out after being faced with hundreds of plastic penises, you’d be forgiven for thinking that toys for the bedroom are not all that much to get excited about.
Times have changed, though, and those cheap, hard plastic rattling devices are a thing of the past. Today’s vibrators are modern, long-lasting, easy to use, and super innovative. It’s predicted that the global market for devices will grow by $9.9 billion US over the next few years, and that market is packed with eco-friendly technology, long-lasting devices, and vibrators made for all bodies and all genders.
It’s a lot to get excited about—but a lot to navigate, as well. So we’ve put together a guide to all the toys you’ve ever wanted to know about, and then some. We’ll tell you how they work, how to use them, and what to look for when you’re buying them.
To help us navigate the long and winding road of vibrator technology, we’re going to let ourselves be guided by the body’s erogenous zones. If you know what you’re looking for, scroll down to see some of the options out there for your body part of choice—otherwise, let’s start at the toes and work our way up.
While the vajankle certainly made waves a few years ago for being one of the few foot-related toys out there, there are a few more options to explore if you’re one of the many people who enjoys having their toes tickled and ankles nibbled.
Restraints that secure your ankles or wrists to a bedpost or other stationary object come in many varieties, and are used by some people who engage in BDSM play—or who just like to hand over control to their lover every now and again. Metal handcuffs and ankle cuffs are probably the better-known restraints, but there are also leather, silk, rope, and tape restraints available. Restraints are also easy to make at home using fabric like a scarf or a necktie.
When using any restraints, it’s crucial to regularly check in and communicate with your partner to make sure they’re comfortable and still consenting to be tied up. Restraints should never be tied so tight as to numb the foot or hand, as this can cause permanent damage. Some people who use restraints like to tie them loosely enough so that they could wriggle out a hand or foot if need be.
Usually made with a small bunch of feathers on the end of a long wand, ticklers can be used to stroke softly over your partner’s skin (or your own) for a soft, sensual touch. They are often used on the soles of the feet but really, the sky’s the limit in terms of where a tickler can be applied. You could also try the buttocks, nipples, stomach, and underarms—and considering a tickler is so gentle and easy to use, they’re a great way to ease yourself into sensory play.
Buttocks and anus
Whether you enjoy anal penetration, spanking, or simply having your buttocks touched and caressed, there are many tools available to increase anal pleasure during solo and partnered sessions.
Among the more popular and well-known anal devices, butt plugs are designed to be inserted into the anus. They vary in size and usually have a large bulbous end followed by a smaller stem and a flared base. The flared base holds the plug in flush against the anus so your hands are free to stimulate yourself, or your partner, in any other way you choose! Butt plugs vary in size from small to quite large, and we recommend beginners start with a smaller one and use plenty of lube when inserting it. The flared base on the butt plug is really important: it prevents the device from going all the way into the anus and potentially getting stuck. You should only ever use anal devices with a flared base or ring pull on the end, to prevent an awkward and potentially painful experience getting them out.
Sometimes referred to as the ‘male g-spot’, the prostate is located a few inches inside the anus. It can be highly sensitive and provide a lot of stimulation when touched from inside and outside the anus: massaging the area between the penis and balls can also stimulate the prostate. Similar to butt plugs, prostate massagers are designed to be inserted into the anus, with a length and width perfect for rubbing against the prostate. As with butt plugs, we recommend starting with a smaller device and using a lot of lube when inserting a prostate massager.
Among the more well-known categories, dildos are often designed to look like penises but can also just look like long wands of varying thickness (ideal if you don’t want an item that looks like a penis). Theoretically, any dildo can be used as an anal dildo—although anal dildos are often designed to be smaller and thinner than regular dildos, and they will also have that all-important flared base. As with all anal adventures, go slow and use plenty of lube when using an anal dildo.
Anal beads basically look like a string of plastic or wooden beads with a ring-pull at one end. They’re designed to be inserted into the anus and pulled out one by one, which creates a pleasurable sensation. The ring-pull on the end of your anal beads will prevent them from getting stuck or lost inside you—and again, go slow when inserting and removing anal beads, and don’t forget your lube.
If you enjoy a slap on the bottom, you may be interested in exploring toys that can be used for spanking. Canes, paddles, whips, and crops can all be used to smack the buttocks and create a pleasurable pain. If you’re playing with a partner, always listen to their responses and allow them to choose the force with which you hit. Be careful to only hit your partner on their buttocks, not their upper back, as hitting this area can cause damage to the kidneys.
Penis and testicles
While it often seems like the vast majority of bedroom items are designed with vulvas in mind, there are heaps of options out there made for the penis and testicles as well!
Cock rings are designed to go around the shaft of the penis, the testicles, or the shaft and the testicles. Made of leather, rubber, soft plastic, or metal, they are designed to fit snugly and produce a sense of tightness that can feel pleasurable. It’s important to remember that although cock rings are designed to feel tight, they shouldn’t be painfully tight—wearing a cock ring that’s too tight can cause real damage to your penis and testicles. Lube can help when putting on and taking off a cock ring, and you might also be interested to know that cock rings can come in many different styles, like prostate-stimulating and vibrating (which can be great to use with a partner). Curious? Check out NORMAL's c-ring Flynn.
Usually contained within a canister or torch-like case, masturbators have an opening in which to insert the penis and can be designed to look like a vagina, anus, or mouth. These have become pretty popular in the last few years, and there are even mechanical masturbators available now: they have a sucking or pumping motion that can make using the device an almost hands-free experience. While many masturbators are shaped like a ‘sleeve’ you can insert your penis into, they’re not all designed that way: some look like an egg, soft disc, or even a relatively amorphous blob of soft silicone. Most manufacturers will have specific advice on how to clean, use, and store masturbators—some need to be dusted with cornflour after use to keep their soft and realistic texture.
Penis pumps can be used for pleasure, but they can also be used by people with erectile dysfunction to help achieve and maintain an erection. Most penis pumps have a tube or canister in which to insert the penis, and a pump that changes the air pressure in the tube to stimulate the penis. Going too fast or pumping too much could hurt or damage the penis, so take it slow and make sure to invest in a penis pump by a trusted and well-known brand (cheaper versions may not be as well-made).
A harness that allows the wearer to attach a dildo or vibrator to their body. Strap-on harnesses can be made of leather, plastic, Latex, or even cotton, and resemble anything from a sexy black-and-steel harness to a dapper pair of briefs. When purchasing a strap-on harness, you’ll want something that fits snugly but comfortably, and doesn’t feel too tight or too loose (adjustable straps can come in handy here!). If the strap-on is something you’ll be using with a partner, ask them what they’d enjoy and make it something you research and buy together. While some strap-ons come complete with their own dildo, others allow you to swap and change the attachment depending on your mood or the desires of your partner. And lastly, keep in mind you’ll need to wash the strap-on. Some briefs can just be thrown in with the regular washing, but a leather or Latex harness will have its own, separate, cleaning instructions to follow.
Packers are lifelike penises that the wearer can insert into their briefs or use flush against their body. Packers are often made of flesh-toned material that feels a lot like human skin, which makes them perfect for anyone seeking a realistic appearance and touch. Because of their material, packers often come with strict instructions from the manufacturer on how to clean and store them—in our experience, a mild antibacterial soap and a dusting of cornflour will help maintain their lifelike feel.
Vulvas, vaginas, and clitorises
From devices that stimulate the g-spot to vibrators that focus only on the clit, there is a whole world of exciting options out there for the vulva. (Confused about the difference between the vulva and vagina, or just need a quick anatomy refresher? We’ve got you covered with this anatomy guide.)
Dildos come in all shapes, sizes, and colours: from flesh-toned, lifelike models of the penis to more abstract, rainbow-coloured wands. Usually used to penetrate the vagina, some dilos are curved to hit the g-spot while others are tapered, ribbed, and even motorised with thrusting motions. Some dildos can be mounted on the wall or floor with a suction cup, and others can be shared between you and a partner—when it comes to enjoying dildos, you’re limited only by your imagination. While dildos and vibrators often look similar, there’s one big difference: dildos don’t vibrate, whereas vibrators do.
Some vibrators are made to stimulate the clitoris, vulva, or vagina—or all three. The one thing they have in common is that they contain a little motor that produces a vibrating sensation, which can increase stimulation and pleasure. We recommend looking for a vibrator that has a rumbly vibration mechanism, as opposed to a buzzing one—the rumbles will increase the sensation you feel and can make for a stronger orgasm. To introduce you to all of the exciting vibrators out there, we’re going to divide this category even further, focusing on the area of the body vibrators can stimulate. You'll also find some vibrators which are extremely versatile and able to be used all over the body, whatever your anatomy - for example, a wand vibrator like Charlie, a palm vibrator like Billie or a bullet vibrator like Frankie.
Vibrators that stimulate the vulva can also be known as external vibrators (meaning, you don’t insert them inside you). They’re usually designed to sit on the vulva, or be held there by your hand or a harness. These vibrators might look like eggs, wands, flat discs, or the classic massage wand, and they’re perfect for anyone who wants to stimulate their vulva and clitoris. These kind of vibrators can often be used during penetrative sex or mutual masturbation.
The more classic style of vibrator is a vaginal vibrator—one that you insert in to the vagina. These vibrators can look pretty phallic, but they don't have to, and might stimulate the g-spot or clitoris as well as having a vibrating ‘shaft’. (The famous ‘rabbit’ vibrator is a vaginal vibrator!) These vibrators can be used with a partner or solo. If you're curious about vaginal vibrators, check out a rabbit vibrator like Piper or a 'g-spot' vibrator like Darcy.
A clitoral vibrator is designed to stimulate the clitoris! These vibrators might be smaller than vaginal vibes, and could be made to only pay attention to the clitoris. Bullet vibes are a great example of a clitoral vibrator, but they can also be shaped like eggs, disks, or little ‘hats’ for your clitoris. Some even have arms that extend down to stimulate the internal clitoris! If direct clitoral stimulation is too intense for you, we recommend checking out clitoral air vibrators:a relatively new kind of device that stimulates the clitoris using pulses of air. The head of the device sits over the clitoris, cupping it, and creates waves of air and suction that are meant to simulate oral sex. These innovations have become massively popular in the last few years - and the NORMAL Quinn clitoral toy is our bestselling device, for good reason!
As vibrators have been among the most popular bedroom investments, they’re also the most diverse: there are almost countless options available for anyone who wants to add a little vibration into their play. They can come in any size, from larger vibrating pads you can sit on to smaller vibes that can be attached to a penis or finger. They can be powered by rechargeable or replaceable batteries, or electricity, and can even be controlled by remote if you want to put your partner in charge of your pleasure for a while. Vibrators aren’t only designed for vulvas, either: there are vibrating anal dildos and buttplugs, vibrating penis masturbators, and even vibrating nipple devices!
Nipple play can be really exciting and stimulating, whether you’re playing solo or with a partner. Here are some options to enhance your nipple pleasure.
If you like a little pain mixed in with your pleasure, nipple clamps may be an option for you. These clamps are placed on the nipple to enhance sensory pleasure, and their pressure can vary from very light to quite hard. When using nipple clamps, always listen to your (or your partner’s) body—while a little pain can be fun, you don’t want to tighten the clamps too much and injure or hurt yourself.
Gentler than nipple clamps, these are perfect for those beginning to explore nipple play (or for anyone who isn’t so into pain). Nipple suckers are small pieces of soft silicone that can be placed over the nipple: simply pinch the suckers, place it on the nipple, and release, and your nipple will be ‘sucked up’ by the silicone.
Tie up your hands or put something fun on them—there’s a lot that can be done with our fingers, palms, and wrists.
Restraints and handcuffs
Just like our ankles, our wrists can be bound as well. Some people enjoy the feeling of being restrained, and if that’s you, you might want to try wrist restraints. They can be made of leather, metal, rope, silk, or any kind of fabric you like—many people like to tie them loosely so if they want to, they can slip their hand out easily. If you’re using restraints with your partner, communicate with them constantly to make sure they’re comfortable, and be sure to release them as soon as they ask. Remember not to tie your restraints too tight: if your hand begins to feel numb or tingly, you will need to loosen the restraints immediately.
Not just for cold weather any more, gloves can be used in the bedroom as well. If you or your partner enjoy the feel of different fabrics, you might want to try using leather or silk gloves together—and you can also buy vibrating gloves or gloves that have spikes or studs on them, perfect for experimenting with sensory play or spanking.
They say the most important erogenous zone is the brain...but we think there’s a few other things nearby that can be stimulated too.
If you think it would be sexy to surrender the power of speech for a while, try a gag. While ball gags are some of the better-known gags, tape or fabric can also be used—just be very careful not to put anything in your, or your partner’s, mouth that can be choked on. Before using a gag, decide on a physical sign that you and your partner can give each other (like a tap on the leg) if you need to take a break, and check in regularly with your partner if they’re wearing a gag to make sure that they’re still comfortable and that they can breathe.
Blindfolds can be made of silk, leather, Latex, or any kind of fabric you can imagine—and they’re really easy to make at home if you need one in the heat of the moment. Explore sensory pleasure by blindfolding your partner and letting them guess how you’ll touch them next, or let them blindfold you and enjoy the feeling of anticipation.
To learn more about the foundations of great sex with acclaimed sex coach Georgia Grace, check out NORMAL's video masterclass, The Modern Guide To Sex.