What to Know About Sex Toys and 6 Inexpensive Options Worth Trying
Keep your sex life spicy and your bank account happy: This selection of expert-approved sex toys run $75 or less.
Fun in the bedroom
The great thing about sex toys is that they’re equal opportunity: They can help keep things spicy if you’re in a relationship, and they can be a joy if you’re not.
Having a healthy sex life is important, says Sarah Melancon, sociologist and clinical sexologist with SexToyCollective.com. However, most people will go through periods in their life where their libido drops. Stress, diet, underlying health conditions, and environmental factors can all do a number on your sex drive.
One of the remedies for a low sex drive? Seek more sexual pleasure, along with these 20 other ideas to keep your sex drive in high gear. One simple way to add fuel to the desire fire is to use adult sex toys, says Melancon.
Types of sex toys
If there’s an erotic idea, there’s a sex toy to fill that kink. That said, most sex toys fit into six general categories, Melancon says.
Vibrators. Vibrating toys come in a variety of shapes and sizes and are designed for external stimulation for both men and women.
Dildos. Phallic-shaped objects designed for internal sexual stimulation of the vagina or anus.
Butt plugs. Circular designed inserts used to gently stretch open the anus as foreplay or an introduction to butt play.
Prostate stimulators. Toys designed to stimulate the male prostate, located inside the anal canal.
Male masturbation sleeves. These are designed to look like a vulva or anus and fit over the penis. Some vibrate, others attempt to simulate the sensations of oral sex or masturbation.
Remote-control. These can be controlled through a remote or app, so one partner gets to tease the other. They even work long-distance.
Play items. Masks, handcuffs, ropes, feathers, candles, massage oils, swings, sex dolls, and many other items fall under the category of sex toys and are often related to a particular kink.
The best types of sex toys to buy
“There are so many types of toys, made for all kinds of uses and people, so the ‘best’ toy is the one that fits your needs,” says Carol Queen, PhD, sexologist for Good Vibrations, a sexual health and wellness toy retailer, and co-author of The Sex & Pleasure Book: Good Vibrations Guide to Great Sex for Everyone. “Sex toys are really a ‘different strokes for different folks’ kind of product. So more than anything it’s important to know what you like and want to explore.”
Not all sex toys are created equal and you risk injury or infection from using poor-quality toys. “Toxic toys can cause chemical burns—definitely not sexy,” Melancon says. “Unsafe materials can also be porous and harbor bacteria or mold, which may cause infection.”
Unfortunately, sex toys are not regulated, which makes it difficult to be certain your toys are safe. “Safe toy materials include 100 percent pure silicone, wood, medical-grade stainless steel, borosilicate glass (Pyrex), ceramic, and hard plastic,” Melancon says. Avoid the following, she adds: Anything made with latex, phthalates, silicon (it’s not the same as silicone), Sil-a-gel, “silicone blends,” jelly/gel, rubber (even if it claims to be latex- and phthalate-free), vinyl, PVC, TPE, TPR, elastomer, and Cyberskin.
How to buy affordable sex toys
Sex toys can range in price from $5 to several thousand dollars for a Sybian or Real Doll, and quality toys are often not the cheapest toys, Melancon says. Generally, super cheap sex toys will be made of toxic materials, but that doesn’t mean you have to break the bank and go for the most expensive option. There are plenty of quality sex toys for people on a budget. When shopping there are a few key details to look for, Queen says.
First, purchase products directly from a reputable company with robust customer service, a trained staff, and an established history, she says. You can buy sex toys from third-party sellers, like Amazon, but you’ll need to be extra diligent with your research. Avoid sellers with no history or poorly designed websites.
Queen’s second tip is to get out the measuring tape so you’re clear on what size item you’re purchasing, especially if you’re choosing something that can be used for penetration (and don’t forget to order lube with it!). Lastly, always read the reviews. You can use Fakespot to help you sort through fake reviews. It’s worth a little extra time to make sure you’re getting the best bang for your buck.
Sex toys as gifts
Buying yourself a new sex toy is fun but buying one for a partner can add even more excitement. However, whether you’re looking for a fun birthday gift, a unique holiday present, or just a fun surprise for your partner, the first thing to consider isn’t what type of toy to buy but whether or not your partner would like to get a sex toy as a gift in the first place.
“Sex toys can make fantastic gifts, but they can also cross boundaries,” Queen says. Talk to your partner about what they like and need. If you’re not sure, a gift card is the best bet. Shopping together for a sex toy can be a fun, frisky experience on its own, she adds.
(Related: Why Covid-19 Is Killing Your Sex Drive)
Vibratex Original Magic Wand
This is the classic of the “power toys” genre and is known for its durability and quality, Queen says, adding that there is a rechargeable, cordless version, as well. “I like to suggest vibrators for a couple of reasons: they can be used on many parts of the body, they provide a kind of stimulation you can’t get in other ways, and they tend to help people orgasm,” she says.
Apollo Max Masturbation Penis Sleeve
This adjustable and reversible toy fits like a “sleeve” over the penis, allowing for a “gourmet” hand job, Queen says.
VibeMax Mini Wand
If you like the “wand” style but prefer something a little more compact, this mini version is a good option.
Crystal Delights Funfetti Plug
“These crystal butt plugs come in a multitude of fun designs and feel great,” Melancon says. “Plus they are made from borosilicate glass which makes them super smooth and body-safe.”
Aneros Helix Trident
Aneros makes a line of prostate stimulators—the Trident model is a best seller—that are known for their quality. They’re designed by a doctor with a very loyal following and the company offers lots of online support to get the best experience, Queen says.
Ignite Kama Sutra Massage Candle
A scented candle is a great way to set the mood, but you can do more than just that with the Ignite candles. They are made of soy wax which has a lower melting temperature than other waxes. So when it begins to melt, you have a warm massage oil or a kinky candle-wax dripping that’s not too hot and won’t cause burns, Queen says.