Buying the right vibrator should be a breeze in an ultra-saturated market, but when you’re on a budget, there’s a lot more to consider than what color options will match your nightstand.
Today’s sex toys range from those plastic bullets you can nab for $5 at any adult boutique counter, all the way to diamond-encrusted, solid silver works of art (yes, this actually exists). Of course there’s a whole lot in-between, including a bunch of cheap knock-offs made of chemically-unsafe materials and some seriously amazing bargain basement vibes.
It all comes down to valuing your pleasure budget, which is a little bit like pondering your next date. You’ve got to decide what you want right now, what’s worth waiting for, and what you’ll need for the long-term. Your past experience (or lack thereof) with things that go buzz in the night will also play a big role in determining your next big toy purchase.
If you’re on the market for a new orgasm enhancer, consider us your sex-pert realtors, ready to hand over the keys to your next bedroom investment.
Try Before You Buy
The best adult boutiques provide a comfortable environment to get hands-on with all the latest buzzy goodies. Find your nearest sex-positive, sex education-based toy shop and they’ll probably have a little “vibrator bar” where you can walk right up and test all sorts of sexy stuff (on your hands, of course!).
Although not every toy will have a seat at the vibe bar, many stores will take your potential new purchase out of the box and pop in some batteries or fire up the charger. Modern sex shop clerks know their products from top to bottom, and they’ll walk you through the functions and fun ways to use your new vibe. (And be advised: medical-grade silicone and ABS plastic toys are non-porous and can’t hang on to bacteria, so there’s no risk of buying a contaminated toy, but this does illustrate why you should always wash your new toys before playtime.)
Your in-store sex toy experts won’t mind if you spend hours browsing, comparing prices, and asking questions, so take your time in finding the right match for your budget and body.
Invest in Your Needs – and the Right Fit for Your Pleasure
There’s no standard rule for vibrators anymore. Bigger doesn’t always mean better, or even more expensive, and small doesn’t always equal cheap or simple. Silicone used to hike prices into the luxury category, but now this often-safe material can run as low as $30.
Decide how you’ll be using your new vibe and what features you need to get off. Will you frequently bust out this toy during partnered sex? Are you “meh” about penetration, but love clitoral play? Do you get bored if your vibe isn’t as versatile as your smartphone? Here is where you’ll need to figure out whether it’s worth it to save up and splurge.
We could wax poetic about different sex toy designs for hours, but for now, let’s go with what we know. Our very own Eva II and Fin are great examples that illustrate features, versatility, and pricing for smaller-scale pleasure objects.
Consider Eva II If You’re After a Couple’s Vibe
Dame’s Eva II is a medical-grade silicone, hands-free couple’s vibrator with three speeds. Eva’s purpose is to stay neatly tucked into your outer labia during intercourse while its rumbly motor provides clitoral vibration during penetration.
Do you enjoy partner sex in the shower? Eva II is waterproof, so you’re covered. Are ultra-intense vibrations a bit much, but you still need more than a single speed? Your clitoris won’t be rumbled into numbness by Eva II — you’ll have options to go stronger or softer. And does it drive you nuts to keep your hands glued between your thighs instead of squeezing your partner’s butt? That’s exactly why Eva II is engineered to stay put between your labia, even with a penis or dildo inside. And at $135, Eva is far from being the priciest couple’s toy on the market.
Think Small If You Need Versatility
Fin is a bit like a hand-held version of Eva II, and at $75, it’s a better bet for newbies on a budget. This small finger vibrator works equally well alone or with a partner, and it even comes with a little sling to loop around your index and middle fingers for a snug hold.
Do you like to vary the intensity or pressure of your vibrator during partner or solo sex? With Fin on your hand, every movement is up to you from moment to moment. Do most other couples’ toys just awkwardly get in the way? Fin’s size and shape match up with your fingers, so it’s no different than simply using your digits for manual stimulation. Looking for something discreet that you can sneak into your purse or suitcase? The tiny Fin makes travel quickies a breeze.
These are the same sorts of questions to pose to any future sex toy. Pretend you’re interviewing that vibrator for a job as your pleasure assistant, and don’t be afraid to ask the tough questions!
If You’re a Super Beginner, But Also Super Broke
If even $30 is looking a little steep, but you’ve never experienced a vibration-induced orgasm, stop right there and do exactly what most sex toy experts might advise against: go right out and buy that $5-$10 vibrator. Trust us, it won’t be your last.
As sex toy production prices go down, the quality of ultra-cheap vibrators goes up. If you can’t find silicone in that category, go for non-porous ABS hard plastic (but try to avoid shiny, chrome-plated plastic! That plating can rub or flake off, and it’s not very vulva-friendly…). Those basic slim, stiff vibes and finger-sized bullet vibes are perfect for beginning your journey into battery-powered masturbation. Try to find one with at least 3 different power settings so you’ll get to know what your clitoris likes.
Most folks over 30 started off with an novelty vibrator that couldn’t hold a candle to what’s on the market today, but you’ve got to get the hang of your training wheels before you jump to a brand new mountain bike, if you catch our drift.
What’s Your Orgasms-to-Dollars Ratio?
Decide what you’re after: the hippest new toy on the block, or the best orgasms on the planet? Pick the toy that’s going to rock your parts — price isn’t always an indicator of potential pleasure. If the dollars you spend aren’t going to elevate your climaxes, then that uber-modern sex toy isn’t worth the price or the hype.
Read the reviews, touch those in-store testers, and do your research like you’re writing a thesis on the horizontal, five-finger tango. Your parents might have been flipping through real estate catalogs when they were your age, but we’re all for upgrading your vibrator as the next best must-do milestone.
Colleen Godin is a seasoned pleasure product professional and avid outdoors-woman (though rarely both at the same time). She has worked in the sex toy biz since college. From the adult boutique counter to traveling the country for major toy manufacturers, she's seen the good, the bad, and the ugly of sex toy design. She now specializes in writing, marketing, and media for sex toy companies and sexual health businesses.