While we all might be curious about the best plunger or probiotic tampon or cold-sore remedy, it can be difficult to discuss these more personal items. That’s why we’re tackling Things We Don’t Talk About, a series in which we track down the best hygiene-, sex-, and bodily function-related things we all need but might be too embarrassed to ask about. Next up (because it’s almost Valentine’s Day): sex toys that aren’t vibrators.
Among those who like sex with accessories, vibrators tend to get a lot of love. The reasons aren’t mysterious: Battery-powered devices can deliver sensations that other objects (or body parts) can’t. But tethered devices require USB cords or even remote controls, and often overshadow a realm of analog sex toys that require no cords and deliver plenty of stimulation outside of buzzing. To find the best lo-fi erotic accessories — most of which can be used alone or with a partner, and safely paired with lube — we talked to sex therapists, educators, a dominatrix, and sex shop owners. Trigger warning: There are some very lifelike models on this list. But we hear they’re the best.
Best G-spot stimulator
“This is, hands down, one of my personal favorites,” says Ericka Hart, a sex educator. “If you are interested in G-spot stimulation, this is great, as the G-spot loves weight and a curve. This wand gives perfect access. Because this toy has a flared base, you can also use it for anal stimulation. Plus, this wand can be heated up or cooled down if you are interested in temperature play.” Searah Deysach, owner of Chicago sex-toy shop Early to Bed, agrees. “The Pure Wand outsells many of our vibrators and I think it’s because it’s made of a material that can create a very unique sensation,” she says. “And it’s gorgeously designed and is really good at putting pressure where you want it.”
Best silicone dildos
As far as silicone dildos go, our experts love ones made by Vixen Creations. “Vixen Creations are making really luscious, dual-density, very realistic-feeling dildos that people will pay the extra money for because the feel that it has is so much better than a mass-produced silicone dildo,” says Deysach. Professional dominatrix Valerie August agrees: “Vixen dildos are the best on the market, hands down. They have the most realistic texture: soft and squeezable, but with a harder, heavy core. I have about six Vixens in my collection, mainly for anal use on male submissives.”
“New York Toy Collective is amazing because they make a lot of gender-affirming products,” says Kim Marks, owner of As You Like It, a nontoxic and environmentally conscious sex shop in Eugene, Oregon. “The Shilo is one of our top-selling silicone dildos, and many different people buy them, but it is very nice for the trans community in particular because they’re realistic. The Shilo is bendable and comes in many different skin tones, so you can try to match your partner’s skin tone.”
For those looking for something a little less realistic, Marks recommends checking out Tantus. “Tantus is another made-in-U.S. dildo company that has some realistic to very, very, very not-realistic dildos,” she says. “They’re all pure silicone and come in beautiful color options.” The Tantus Mr. Universe is an extra-large one recommended by Buck Angel, an adult-film producer: “I love dildos! You can buy all kinds of sizes of dildos, and with fatter dildos, you experience a different kind of penetration,” says Angel. “This awesome dildo is just that dildo. It’s short and wide, which stretches you and gives you a completely different sensation. Use your imagination. Go slow, and take your time, because this is not for the beginner.”
Best glass sex toys
For an alternative to silicone toys, Marks recommends glass. “Glass is phenomenal for a number of reasons,” she says. “It holds temperature nicely. So if you’re a person who struggles having orgasms or finding your G-spot or pleasure spot internally, [using a toy] that’s slightly cooler than your body temperature [can help you] actually feel where your pleasure zones are much better.” Another advantage of glass is its smoothness. “There’s no friction, so if you’re somebody who deals with pain during sex, it can be like an ice pack or warming pack for your vagina. And you don’t have to worry about ripping or tears. And it has some weight to it, which can be very arousing for people.” Stainless-steel toys, like the Pure Wand, are similar to glass toys in terms of weight, smoothness, and temperature control.
For glass dildos, Marks loves ones made by Standard Glass. “Everything you buy from them is unique because they’re all hand-blown products,” she says. Because you can choose each toy based on shape, size, pattern, and color, they make great Valentine’s Day gifts. “It’s nice to think that everyone has a unique sex toy. You can pick pick your partner’s favorite color scheme, for instance. I think it’s really personalized and great.”
One of Marks’s favorite companies for glass butt plugs is Crystal Delights. “They have beautiful products and they’re having fun with it,” she says. “You can feel a little extra sexy when you have some ‘bling in your bum.’ It’s cute, and it’s destigmatizing anal play.” Manufactured in the U.S., Crystal Delights makes high-quality products, a point that Marks emphasizes: “You need to be a little responsible and talk about the structural integrity and the quality of the glass. Not all glass is equal.”
Best prostate stimulators and butt plugs
“In my practice, men are increasingly wanting to explore prostate play, both on their own and with a partner,” says Ian Kerner, sex counselor and author of She Comes First. “The prostate can be stimulated on its own via anal entry or in combination with genital stimulation, and it’s a hotbed of sexual sensitivity that can transform the quality of orgasm. Aneros has been dedicated to researching and producing quality prostate massagers, and the MGX Classic is probably their best starter stimulator, as the tapered tip makes it easy to experiment with insertion. It also has a flared base that allows for perineum stimulation.” Deysach, Marks, and Zoë Ligon of Spectrum Boutique, a sex-positive online store based in Detroit, all recommend Aneros’s products for those looking to explore prostate stimulation.
For those seeking prostate stimulation, Marks also recommends the Helix series from Aneros: “It’s a toy that moves with you. It’s ergonomically designed so that when you move, it moves, and it stimulates your prostate on your own.” It’s a great alternative to something that vibrates, which can be too much for some people.
A popular starter butt plug at Early to Bed is the Naughty Plug, which comes in a range of sizes. “The neck is very safe as is the base, but it’s also narrow so it fits between butt cheeks really well and has a good bulbous kind of shape that really fits up against the prostate,” says Deysach.
Best masturbation sleeves
“When it comes to masturbation sleeves, the Fleshlight is probably the number-one-selling sex toy on the market that doesn’t turn on,” says Deysach. “It’s got a loyal following. It’s a well-designed toy, but it’s also a well-marketed toy. For people who have penises and who want the sensation of being completely enveloped in something squishy and ribbed, you kind of can’t beat it.”
If you’re looking for an alternative to the realistic Fleshlight, Deysach and Kerner recommend Tenga. “Tenga has gorgeous, really well-designed toys for penises,” says Deysach. “They were some of the first people to really disassociate from [the idea], ‘How realistic of a vulva can we make? Let’s focus on how amazing can the sensation feel inside.’ That helps them to produce a toy that has so much going on on the inside, but not necessarily a lot going on as far as the visuals. Kerner agrees: “No company knows the penis better than Tenga, which specializes in masturbation sleeves. The Tenga Egg is a disposable sleeve that’s packaged to look like an egg, and opens easily to wrap around the penis. Each egg also comes with its own packet of lube. There are about a dozen choices; inside each egg is a unique thermoplastic texture that adds different flair to both masturbation and partnered hand jobs.”
Best penis accessories
“Primarily, the function of a cock ring is to trap blood flow into the shaft of the penis for a stronger, more sensitive erection,” says Finn. “The Buddy Ring is great because it works almost like a bolo tie in how it tightens around the shaft, making it super adjustable for a comfortable fit on any size, as well as extremely easy to put on and remove. There are other adjustable rings in this style, but the Buddy holds into place until the button on the strap adjuster is pressed, which means it won’t slip loose, even if some lubricant gets into it. Plus, the matte black of the silicone is really sexy.”
Other sex toys and enhancers
“It sort of walks the line between sex toy and health item, but there are a few analog products that are designed to help folks who are experiencing vaginal pain during penetration or who experience external pain,” says Deysach. One such product she recommends is the Sili Saddle: “It’s a squishy silicone pad that can be used as a masturbation toy for somebody who might be sensitive and doesn’t want something that vibrates. It can also be used as a cushion under their clothes, or it can be worn under a harness.”
There’s also a new product called the Ohnut, recommended by both Deysach and Ligon, which allows the user to control depth during penetrative sex. According to Ligon, it’s a set of stackable silicone rings that acts like a buffer for people whose penises are longer and can cause pain on their partner’s cervix or uterus, for instance, when they thrust. “It takes off as much length as you need in a comfortable seamless way,” says Ligon. “It’s a really innovative piece of sex technology that is not motorized.”
Marks also recommends Liberator sex furniture as a simple way to enhance partnered sex. “Sex furniture helps you get into better positions, whether it’s because your body is stiff or because it’s easier to find your G-spot when you’re held in different positions,” she says. “The Heart Wedge is so cute and would make a great Valentine’s Day gift.”
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