Fleshlights have now been around long enough – and the stigma attached to them has dissipated to such an extent – that there's really no reason for anyone with a penis not to have at least one stroking toy on hand somewhere. But if you're a first timer interested in picking up one of the best Fleshlights (opens in new tab), it's important to know exactly what you're getting yourself into: it's not all fun and games. Check out our guides on how to use a Fleshlight (opens in new tab) and how to clean a Fleshlight (opens in new tab) before considering the following facts...
1. Not all Fleshlights are created equal
Although the concept doesn't really change from toy to toy – you make it slippery then insert your penis, no rocket science required – the toys themselves tend to vary a lot. Each company uses a slightly different formulation for its skin-like material, for example, Kiiroo's sleeves feel different from Fleshlight's, which themselves vary from Arcwave's and Tenga's and so on. There's even variation within individual brands. Take Fleshlight's lineup: the clear version of its SuperSkin is a little sticker and, when lubed, more slippery than its flesh-coloured version.
There don't tend to be too many places (or friends) that'll let you try these things out before you buy, so do your research. Manufacturers don't just vary their materials. They go properly HAM with textures and shapes sometimes, and certain canal designs really don't work for me.
Fleshlight's sleeves, to offer one example, have an occasional tendency towards including little caverns mid-way through. Fun! Except they're not, because they tend to create a barrier at their other end which your manhood smashes up against. A distraction at best, deeply uncomfortable at worst. There's often no need for fancy design, anyway. The Arcwave Voy (opens in new tab) is one of my favourite toys of all time (and holds a spot in our best sex toys for men (opens in new tab) guide), and it completely forgoes anything realistic in favour of looking like a pile of old tyres.
2. You may be more sensitive than you think
Guys: if you haven't been fumbling with yourself with great regularity since the day you realised it was a thing you could do, you're an outlier. So you're probably confident that you know exactly how sensitive your trouser region is and that you're ready for anything, right? Oh boy.
These things are far more effective than you might think, so dipping one's toe in on the more basic end – one of Fleshlight's stamina trainers, for example, or a basic Kiiroo Feel – might be the best idea. Jumping in head first with something wacky like one of Tenga's ultra-geometric toys is genuinely not a good idea, no matter how much lube you use. These things can go beyond the point of pleasure into the region of pain. No thanks.
3. Use lots of lube... No, more than that
If you're spending some time with your right hand, you know your limits precisely, and can vary your grip to ensure you don't get uncomfortable. There's every chance you've never used any kind of lubrication if you're going toy-free.
Don't even think about doing that with a toy. You need a water-based lube – check out our guide to the best lube (opens in new tab) if you want something special – and while a little dab will work, don't be tempted to skimp. Although some Fleshlights will give you the option to adjust the suction or to squeeze them tighter to tweak the pressure, using them without enough lube can get very rough, particularly as it absorbs into your skin and gets sticky.
4. They can be bloody big
All credit to toy manufacturers for providing options that'll fit the vast majority of the penis-having population, but if you're not amongst the most endowed you won't be making use of a vast portion of many sleeves.
Full-sized Fleshlight-style toys – the Fleshlight Ice Lady (opens in new tab), for example – are absolutely enormous. Wastefully so, given that this is something you'll want to at least attempt to squirrel away. Even the shrunk-down mid-sized models, like the Fleshlight Flight Pilot (opens in new tab), are pretty darn chunky.
Really my first purchase would have been better if it were one of the more compact, open-ended examples, far easier to tuck away and, frankly, just as exciting as a full-size toy. For more reasons than just the size...
5. They are an absolute pain to clean
Ladies, lucky for them, get to use convex toys which can be wiped, rinsed, and perhaps even shoved in the dishwasher. Guys don't quite get the same luxury. Cleaning a Fleshlight-type toy can be incredibly difficult, particularly given all the nooks and crannies, and the fact that (trust me on this one) attempting to invert the sleeves on certain toys is a good way to tear their material up and ruin your investment.
The problem is that you really can't get away with not cleaning them. Even if you're careful about keeping them separate from your personal fluids, old lube will sit in there and get gunky, and the material tends to be a dust and lint magnet. Plus, honestly, the overall list of things you should put your penis into is pretty short, and it's already been filtered by 'things which are clean'.
What is worse is that you need to air dry them, which isn't super-convenient in a family home containing children prone to asking questions. Pick up a smaller toy like Fleshlight's Quickshot Vantage (opens in new tab) and you'll find the whole job of cleaning and drying much easier.