Generally, toys can be broken up into a few umbrella categories: clitoral (external) toys, internal vaginal toys, cock rings, blowjob sleeves, and anal toys. Within each of these categories, there are also more subcategories, like you can have a suction toy and a bullet and a panty vibe all being clitoral toys, and anal beads and butt plugs within butt toys. And the great thing about sex toys, is people are constantly imagining new and creative ways to invent new sex toys. Just a few years ago, clitoral suction vibrators didn’t even exist, and now they’re one of the best sellers in clitoral vibes, with tons of companies jumping to make their own versions.
So if you’re a lil’ overwhelmed, we get it. It admittedly is a lot — and we’re pros on this. But never fear, we’re here to help. We’ve broken down some of the most popular sex toy categories so you can narrow down exactly what to try for whatever it is you’re looking for. Here’s our guide to a few of the most popular sex toy categories you’ll see, what each toy is great for, what it’s not so great for, and tips for how to get the most (I’m so sorry) bang for your buck with your purchase.
Tango Lipstick Bullet Vibrator
The most basic, and often cheapest kind of vibrator is a bullet. These vibrators are smaller, usually anywhere from the size of like, a little bit bigger than your standard AA battery, to the shape and size of a mascara tube. Some cheaper bullets are corded, but the majority are wireless. Cheaper bullets will also be battery-powered (they usually use smaller watch batteries or N batteries that are sometimes included) but many newer ones are also rechargeable. This is the best kind of vibrator to get for beginners, as its primary use is for clit stimulation.
Best for: Beginners, clit stimulation, small and unobtrusive use during partnered sex
Not great for: Penetration (it’s too small to feel anything girth-wise and difficult to maneuver in that way)
Tips/how to use: Get a waterproof, rechargeable bullet (my favorite is the We-Vibe Tango) and use it in the shower or bath to get acquainted with it. Positions like Doggy will also allow enough room to handle the bullet while your partner enters from behind.
Oz Magic Wand
The Oz Magic Wand (also known overseas as the Hitachi), which is a corded, plug-in, ginormous thing that’s about a foot long and has looked the same since the 70s. They look like giant karaoke mics, and are so large because they’re the most powerful vibrators out there. Newer versions are also rechargeable and some are waterproof (though this is a small minority of “Wand” type vibes, so make sure yours is before bringing it into the tub.)
Best for: Clitoral stimulation
Not great for: Partnered sex. It’s possible if you get creative, but generally, these are too bulky to use with a partner during penetrative sex.
Tips/how to use: If you prefer indirect clit stim because you have a sensitive clit, try using a Magic Wand over your underwear for less-intense, but still very pleasurable sensation.
Sona 2 Cruise
These are a relatively new kind of toy, first appearing on the market around five years ago from two brands called Womanizer and Fiera (which has since gone out of business). The idea behind suction vibes (aka oral sex vibrators) is that instead of just vibrating on your clit, these create a little vacuum seal and use suction (some brands refer to it as “pressure” but it’s very much a suction-y feeling) to simulate the feeling of someone sucking your clit during oral sex. These are notoriously great for people who feel like they have difficulty orgasming, as they’re very intense.
Best for: Masturbation, having your first orgasm if you find it difficult to orgasm normally or have never had one.
Not great for: Standard missionary penis-in-vagina sex. The majority of these toys are a bit too bulky to handle and position optimally while also being penetrated.
Tips/how to use: They’re not the most intuitive toys to use, but you basically just gotta position the little nozzle or opening on your clit or clit hood to feel instant pleasure. Spread your labia to make sure you’re getting a good “fit” with the toy, and use a drop of lube to make sure it’s not just sucking up like, dry skin (ouchie).
Ina Wave 2
Another classic, cult sex toy, the Rabbit style vibe is so called because it’s got two little “rabbit” ears that stimulate and hug your clit while the shaft vibrates or rotates inside your vagina. If you want to go for a blended orgasm, this is your best bet.
Best for: Combining clitoral and vaginal stimulation during masturbation.
Not great for: Penetrative partnered sex (too bulky).
Tips/how to use: Get a Rabbit that can have both components move independently and start out with just the internal portion, and then when you’re all revved up, then turn on the clitoral stimulating ears. And don’t be afraid of “Rabbit” style toys without the signature bunny ears. Many of these toys have a single curved clit stimulator instead of two distinct ears, which can be equally, if not more, pleasurable because it’s firmer. The Lelo Ina Wave is one of these, and has the added advantage of an internal component that moves in a “come hither” motion mimicking fingers inside you.
These phallic toys are usually smooth in shape for easy insertion and removal. While the shape itself is pretty standard, the texture can vary and you can have ripples, realistic penis-looking details like a head or balls or veins. Dildos count as internal toys, even though they don’t vibrate, as do internal vibrators. Anything that’s large enough that you’re supposed to put it inside you, is an internal toy. Many of these puppies also have curved shafts, so that you can rock it back and forth against your vaginal walls to feel more girth or sensation. Also a bonus, any internal vibe that’s strong enough can also be used as a clit vibe, just use it externally.
Best for: Internal masturbation and assisting for vaginal stimulation while your partner goes down on you, pegging.
Not great for: Coupled penetrative vaginal sex. Too much going on!
Tips/how to use: Use the toy externally first to tease your vulva and labia and when you’re sufficiently turned on and can’t stand it any longer, then insert the toy for fireworks-level pleasure.
Match Couples Vibrator
There are a lot of toys marketed as “couples vibrators” but generally speaking, you’re looking for a toy that can be worn hands-free during penetrative sex. The OG is the We-Vibe, which kind of paper clips onto your vulva and inside your vaginal wall to provide clit stimulation but is unobtrusive enough to hang out there while your partner also enters you. The shape and functionality of the OG We-Vibe has been mimicked a ton, but the idea is the same for all these innie-and-outtie toys. If you see something that looks like a clip or is C-shaped, it’s probably a couples’ toy.
Best for: Penetrative vaginal sex.
Not great for: Solo masturbation. You’ll get way more mileage with a separate clitoral toy and external toy, instead of just trying to use this one for both.
Tips/how to use: Use a LOT of lube if you’re planning on using this during partnered sex. Even though it’s relatively small, you’re still adding another element to hang out inside your vagina while a penis enters, so you want to make sure you’re not going to tear anything. A position like missionary is great to start out with, or doggy. Cowgirl, or girl-on-top might not be great here either, as gravity might cause it to fall out, unless you’re cool with holding it in place during.
Fin Finger Vibrator
These are basically bullet vibes but with finger tethers or rings to attach to your hands. They’re a more couple-friendly version of bullets, since it’s all about external stimulation, but the tether means you don’t have to worry as much about keeping a grip on things (especially if you’re lubed up) in the heat of the moment.
Best for: Coupled penetrative sex, masturbation where you also want to focus or need more concentration for maneuvering an internal vibrator, assisting internally while your partner goes down on you.
Not great for: Just clit masturbation. They’re fine and you might like it enough for just clit masturbation, but generally speaking, you don’t want to be tied to a toy for all your clit masturbatory needs. With a bullet vibe you can get way more power, switch up your grip, and move it around more.
Tips/how to use: Try using one on your clit during missionary or doggy while your partner enters you vaginally. You can also hold it in place during girl-on-top as it’s less likely to fall out of your hand while it’s attached to you.
Club Vibe 3
Flatter shaped panty vibrators are usually clitoral (like 95% of them are such, but you’ll find a few that also have small internal components that can be worn inside you), that sandwich between your underwear and your vulva for clitoral stimulation.
Best for: Couples teasing, sexting.
Not great for: Coupled penetrative sex. They’re way too bulky for you to feel the vibrations from the toy while being penetrated. While you can always slide your undies to the side to still “wear” underwear while having sex, the bulkiness of these toys mean you can’t really slide to the side to allow entry for your partner while still feeling the vibrations.
Tips/how to use: Give your partner the remote (or if you have a model that lets someone control it from anywhere in the world, get them to download the app) and give them the controls while you’re subject to their whims.
Tor 2 Penis Ring
Cock rings are usually made of silicone so they can be stretched over the penis and testicles to A.) help maintain an erection, B.) make said erection harder by limiting blood flow, C.) if it has a vibrator feature, stimulate your clit during penetrative sex.
Best for: Partnered penis-in-vagina sex, upping clit stimulation during sex, helping juice up an erection.
Not great for: Blow jobs or hand jobs (you won’t reap the benefits of vibration on your hand or mouth) or use as a standalone clitoral vibrator (there are way more efficient options for that)
Tips/how to use: With your partner wearing one of these (you can start with it just on the shaft of his penis, or try stretching so it also includes his balls), ride him cowgirl so you can control the position of the vibrator on the ring so it hits your clit just right.
Tenga x Keith Haring Easy Beat Masturbator
Blowjob sleeves are marketed as being a way to amp up penis masturbation through a bunch of different internal textures inside the hole. The idea is that the different patterns and textures inside stimulate the penis in a variety of sensations for a fancier version than your hand or mouth. Must be used with lube!
Best for: Assisting you during a blowjob or handjob.
Not great for: Clitoral masturbation (it’s not going to do anything for you) or partnered penetrative sex (too much material in the way).
Tips/how to use: Ready for a game-changing blowjob hack? Slide a smaller blowjob sleeve inside out over the head of a Magic Wand or internal toy and lube it up for a new sensation on your go-to toy. For penises, use a blowjob sleeve with some hand or mouth assistance to make a blowjob even better. You can snip the end of a Tenga Egg so it’s a full-on sleeve, and use it on the base of his penis while you use your mouth on the head.
Remote Control Rechargeable Vibrating Rimming Butt Plug
Butt plugs look like mini dildos, usually way shorter, and with a flared base. Always get a flared base, because you want to make sure you can remove it easily without it getting “lost” and sucked up inside your anus. They come in a variety of sizes (smaller for beginners and so forth) and can be vibrating, weighted, made of glass or metal for temperature play, and so on. Some, like the b-Vibe, even have small beads on the stem, to stimulate the sensation of getting a rim job.
Best for: Experimenting with anal play or anal training. You can also wear one while having vaginal sex.
Not great for: Penetrative anal sex. You probably wouldn’t use an internal dildo while your partner is also penetrating you vaginally, so the same theory applies here.
Tips/how to use: Get a set of butt plugs with different sizes so you can work your way up. Try it out by yourself at first, and experiment with clitoral or internal vaginal masturbation while you have a plug in.
Triplet Rechargeable Remote Control Vibrating Anal Beads
Anal beads look like a bunch of little balls on a string and usually have a looped end or flared base (ALWAYS flared base with anal toys) for removal. Sometimes the beads are the same size, and sometimes they’ll gradually get bigger as you reach the end of the string, and sometimes the beads are random sizes. The idea is to insert one each, and then you can pull out the beads at different times throughout sex (although it’s most common and popular to pull them out during climax).
Best for: Pairing with clitoral or vaginal masturbation, or during penetrative vaginal sex.
Not great for: Penetrative anal sex. Again, you’ve already got stuff going on there.
Tips/how to use: Take it slow when inserting the beads. They’re separated so that you can take your time popping them in and removing. Try removing one or the whole string during climax to see if that impacts your orgasm.
This article originally appeared on Cosmopolitan US.