A Beginner’s Guide to Vibrators
Written by: Kelly Martin
Updated: August 3, 2022
Photo courtesy of Paula Codoñer
Part of the process of choosing a sex toy—whether it’s your first or fifteenth—is getting real about what excites you. Do you want something that will re-create a sensation you know you love, or do you want to try something new? If you’re a prospective first-time vibrator owner, welcome: May this be the jumping-off point that launches a beautiful collection.
We hope you love whatever you choose. And to help get you there, we’ll run you through some of our favorite vibrators by category so you can get an idea of what each one is for, how to use them, and what to expect from each.
This classic bullet is also super easy to operate: Just press the button on the end to start, press it again to cycle through modes, and explore what feels good from there. For internal stimulation, hold it by its end to insert it into the vagina. Unlike the rest of the bunch featured here, this vibrator is battery powered. One AA gets you four hours of play—you’ll want to keep a stockpile on hand.Smile Makers The Billionaire
Vibrator goop, $60SHOP NOW
What’s special about Crave’s Wink+ bullet vibrator is that it’s made of smooth stainless steel, which has a satisfying weight to it and provides a different sensation than silicone vibrators. If you like the weight of steel but prefer the sensation of silicone, they’ve thought of that, too—just slip on the accompanying silicone cap. And—in both forms—it looks like a chic mascara tube.Crave Wink+ Vibrator goop, $79SHOP NOW
Bullet-shaped vibrators are great for first-timers because they’re compact, discreet, and shaped just right. Generally, the rounded tip feels good for targeted clitoral stimulation, or you can flatten the length of the vibrator against the vulva for a broader, less-intense sensation.
Thanks to a layer of silicone gel, Smile Makers’ Ballerina vibrator has a pleasantly squishable texture you can press into with a finger, which makes its sensations especially delightful against your vulva and clitoris. The rounded back of the device cups comfortably in your palm, and the simple controls make it beyond easy to maneuver between its four intensities and three pulsation modes.Smile Makers The Ballerina Vibrator goop, $129SHOP NOW
Pom is shaped to complement the natural curves of your vulva, so when you press the whole thing against yourself, you can feel the vibrations all over. It’s soft and bendy so you can really grind up against it, and it has a subtle beaklike structure that feels especially good against the clitoris.Dame Products Pom Vibrator goop, $95SHOP NOW
What’s nice about palm-size vibrators is that they’re easy to use for both broad and targeted stimulation. Warm up by pressing the whole body of the vibrator against the vulva, and drive your orgasm home using the tapered end to stimulate the clitoris.
We designed our tricked-out Ultraplush Self-Heating G-Spot Vibrator to maximize pleasure during G-spot exploration. It’s curved at the perfect angle. Dual-density silicone gives the tip a squishable feeling. The toy has just enough flexibility to move with you and help you find angles that feel exactly right. And a self-heating function gently warms the vibrator to just above body temperature, which helps relax your muscles. There are 10 vibrational modes—three steady intensities and seven patterns—that can deliver a variety of sensations, from a gentle tingling to an intense rumbling.goop Wellness Ultraplush Self-Heating
G-Spot Vibrator goop, $95SHOP NOW
Made with Dame’s strongest motor yet, Arc’s rumbly vibrations are designed to be enjoyed both internally and externally: It’s curved to hit sensitive spots on the vaginal wall, and the squishy, bulb-shaped head comes to a ridge for targeted clitoral stimulation. You can cycle through five speeds and five different vibrational patterns and take your time finding what feels best—it can go for more than an hour and a half on a single charge.Dame Products Arc G-Spot Vibrator goop, $115SHOP NOW
The G-spot tends to respond to consistent pressure and movement. (We recommend pairing whichever toy you choose with a clean, water-based lube.) For the highest payoff, you’ll want to build arousal by stimulating the vulva first—while they’re made for internal exploration, most G-spot vibrators can do double duty as clitoral vibrators. Once you’re aroused, insert the toy into the vagina, push gently toward the belly, and keep the toy moving.
Dame designed Kip, one of its most popular and best-reviewed toys, as a play on the classic lipstick vibrator. It’s designed with a triangle shape that fits nicely in your hand. The flat end of the lipstick tip has a concave, scooped shape you can cup over your clitoris to feel the pulses from all sides. Because the pinpointed stimulation of a classic lipstick vibrator is its biggest draw, Dame kept the angular edges. But those edges are coated in super soft silicone, so they have some give.
At a low power level, the silicone edges flutter on your skin. It’s gentle enough for warming up. Then, as you click through the higher levels—there are five total, plus five vibrational patterns—you use the edges to build intensity and drive your orgasm home.Dame Products Kip Vibrator goop, $95SHOP NOW
A lipstick vibrator is a bullet vibrator that’s best for intense clitoral stimulation. As you may have guessed, the old-school ones are made to look like an actual tube of lipstick. A cylindrical body, a flat tip, and hard edges give you plenty of ground to play with. And they’re discreet—one could be left out on a desk or spill out of a purse without drawing attention.
The Womanizer Premium 2 is a fan favorite in this category. It fits nicely in the palm of your hand. It’s nearly effortless to operate—especially if you turn it on autopilot, which switches up the vibrational patterns and intensity to mimic the variation of partnered oral sex. And it’s made with “smart silence” technology, so it switches on only when in contact with your skin and shuts off if you need to set it aside.Womanizer Womanizer Premium 2 goop, $199SHOP NOW
LELO’s Sila Cruise vibrator is built with a soft, extrawide mouth that’s cupped to lie flat against the curve of your vulva. The extra space means broader suction: Sila engages not just the clitoral head itself but also the entire erogenous area surrounding it. We find it leads to a deeper, softer, more sensual experience. It’s also great for people who need a larger fit.
The eight whisper-quiet power settings start at a gentle hum—great for warming up—and build to an intense pulse. But the real kicker is its cruise control technology—this vibrator senses how hard you’re pressing it to your body and automatically adjusts its intensity to match.LELO Sila Cruise Vibrator goop, $189SHOP NOW
You can recognize an air-pulsing vibrator by the round, indented head that’s made to cup around and enclose the external clitoris. The stimulation head doesn’t touch the clitoris directly. Instead, when you turn it on, it forms an airtight seal and emits pulses of air and gentle vibration. That creates a sucking sensation that feels a lot like oral sex. It feels fantastic. And it’s great for building arousal as well as carrying you across the finish line.
The first run of the Double-Sided Wand Vibrator sold out in less than a day, and it’s been a fan favorite ever since. One end has a wonder-ball wand with deep, rumbly vibrations for external stimulation. The slim white pointed end is bendy and can be used for more targeted clitoral stimulation (you can also use it to penetrate up to three inches). Each end of the wand offers eight pulsating patterns that vary in intensity, with easy-to-operate controls for uninterrupted navigation.goop Wellness Double-Sided Wand Vibrator goop, $98SHOP NOW
Le Wand Petite is cordless, compact, and lightweight. And for those who need more stimulation to get the job done, it’s plenty powerful. Le Wand also makes attachments that fit over the head of the wand to add texture and enhance sensation.Le Wand Le Wand Petite goop, $135SHOP NOW
Wand vibrators have a special place in sex toy history—the first ones were cult products and reputedly something magic. But those classic ones were bulky and difficult to maneuver and needed to be plugged into the wall. Their modern-day counterparts, like these ones, are generally lightweight and easier to use while preserving their reputation for power and versatility.
Consider something traditional, like LELO’s Ina 3 vibrator, which has 10 intensities and 10 vibrational patterns to play with. The rechargeable battery lasts two hours at a time. And like the other vibrators here, it’s totally waterproof, if you’d like to take this party to the tub.LELO INA 3 goop, $179SHOP NOW
If you’re into something more modern-day: Let us show you to We-Vibe’s Nova 2. See that exaggerated curve on the shorter arm? It bends so that the external head remains in contact with your clitoris as you move the rest of the device in and out of your body. (It’s pretty genius.) Plus, each head has its own motor you can control independently with 10 vibrational patterns and 13 intensity levels. If you’re feeling creative, you can program your own custom patterns or hand off the controls to a partner with the associated We-Connect app.We-Vibe Nova 2 Vibrator goop, $149SHOP NOW
The hallmark of a rabbit vibrator is that classic bunny-ears look—one longer head that inserts into the vagina for internal sensations and one shorter head that remains outside the body to stimulate the clitoris. They’re designed to stimulate the clitoris and G-spot at once for blended orgasms.
Made with aloe, chamomile, ginseng, horny goat weed, and hempseed extracts, Whet is a lightweight, water-based sex serum that gives slip without the stickiness. Use just a few pumps on a toy or directly on your vulva.Personal Fav Whet Plant-Based Sex Serum goop, $24SHOP NOW
To enhance sensation and add plenty of slip, add a few spritzes of this water-based lube to whatever toy you’re using. It’s formulated with hydrating hyaluronic acid, L-arginine, and botanical extracts and flavored with sea salt and caramel (food-grade, not fragrance). And, please, take a good look at that gold bottle—it’s a pretty addition to your bedside drawer, your purse pocket, wherever.Glissant Sea Salt & Caramel Water-Based Lube goop, $55SHOP NOW
Water- and aloe-based lubricants and sex serums pair well with condoms (latex and polyisoprene) and sex toys of all types. And they simply make sex better, whether you’re flying solo or playing with a partner.