How to choose a vibrator, according to a sexpert

Pro tips on finding your buzz

selection of sex toys including vibrators
(Image credit: Anna Shvets from Pexels)

The sex toy market offers an astounding number of different ways to make you orgasm and of all the myriad toys available on the shelf, the vibrator section never fails to delight with its dazzling array of choice. No two types look the same: from pebble-shaped vibrators that fit into the palm of your hand to ones with 'rabbit' ears, to suction-type vibrators with small nozzles, to vibrators that you can wear inside your clothing. One thing they do all have in common however is that they have a motor inside them that will buzz, rumble, vibrate, oscillate or suck.

While we love choice it can, frankly, be a little bamboozling when you come to make your first vibrator purchase. Our guide to the best vibrators is designed to talk you through the different types on the market, but you might have further questions. So, for a little extra guidance we turned to respected sexpert, author, educator and sex-toy reviewer Amy Norton (she/her). Here she answers all your top vibrator-related questions...

How do I choose my first vibrator?

You can read about the full gamut of vibrators with our best vibrator guide where you'll discover it can be broadly broken into sections: bullet, G-spot, wands, rabbit and suction stimulator. But which one to try first? 

"It's such a creative market," says Amy. "I've tried and seen so many different kinds. I've tried some amazing inventions but I've also tried some stuff that was trying too hard to be creative but I don't think had been tested on an actual human body!"

There are ways to narrow things down, though. "Generally, when I'm advising people who are new to vibrators, I ask: 'Do you like pinpoint stimulation or do you like broad stimulation?' If you like pinpoint stimulation, then get a bullet. For broader stimulation go for a wand that offers different intensity levels." 

Whichever way you head first, it's important to invest in a good quality toy as you will be rewarded with a richer experience. "The way we describe it in sex-toy land is the 'buzz to rumble scale'," says Amy. "The cheaper ones can be very much on the buzzy end and very surface level."

What are the key features to look for in a vibrator?

Unlike dildos, many (but not all) vibrators are used for external stimulation (we have a separate best dildo guide to walk you through your options there). This doesn't mean that what it's made of matters less, says Amy. "Always look for body-safe materials," she says, "personally I just wouldn't want the risk, so go for silicone. I would also advise something that is rechargeable rather than battery powered. They tend to be more powerful, better quality and last longer and you don't have batteries dying at a crucial moment."

While ordering online is an easy way to purchase in private (with the vast majority of sex toy companies offering discreet deliver, so you don't need to worry about a massive 'Lovehoney' box advertising to the whole street what you've been ordering), being able to see the product in person can be a good idea, too. "I'd recommend, if possible, that you go to an actual sex toy shop where you can see how they feel," says Amy. Finally, "opt for something with lots of different settings so you can experiment and see what you like and use that to inform future purchases."

best vibrators: The Tennis Coach

(Image credit: Beauty Bay)

How do you clean a vibrator?

Keeping your toys in tip-top condition means they will last longer and, most importantly, keep bugs at bay. "If I'm steralising something that doesn't have a motor – like a dildo or butt plugs – I'll boil them in water for 10 minutes," says Amy who asserts how important it is to keep sex toys clean. "With a motor, some people use 10% bleach solution, so one part bleach to nine parts water," assuming it's a toy that is water submersible. "Soak it for 10 minutes and rinse and dry it off and you're good to go. The other option is sterile wipes: body safe, medical wipes. Use them to sterilise the toy then rinse it if it's waterproof, or dry it off with a damp cloth if it's not submersible."

Should you use lube with a vibrator?

"Yes, because it makes everything more fun!" laughs Amy. Using sex toys should be as comfortable an experience as possible. There's a cultural myth that lube is only for anal use or menopausal women. Not true, agrees Amy, who asserts that there should be a bottle of lube in everyone's bedroom. "In the vast majority of cases even if you're using something externally, all of that area and all of that tissue is very sensitive and if something's grabbing or catching that can be uncomfortable so I always say, 'When in doubt add lube'."

Is a vibrator a good starter toy?

There's a lot to support starting off your sex-toy journey with a vibrator. There's plenty of choice, vibrators are versatile and easy to use and with the better quality versions you can have control over how intense an experience it is. "I would always say start with a vibrator," agrees Amy, "With a vibrator you can explore in lots of different ways and exploring" I think we can all agree, "is always a good thing."

Amy Norton (she/her) is the author of the Coffee & Kink blog and organiser of Smutathon (@SmutForACause), a charity event that raises money for endometriosis.  

Alice Claridge

Alice is a freelance editor and writer, with experience covering sexual happiness products and general lifestyle