Looking for the best vibrators for beginners can be overwhelming—there’s a truly wild amount of options out there. Vibrators have existed for over a century, but it’s only in the past few decades that they’ve become a widespread, everyday component of human sexuality. In fact, they’re the most popular type of sex toy on the market.
It’s easy to see why: Vibrators can be used either solo or with a partner, are known to increase sexual desire, and are even a science-backed treatment for various sex-related medical issues. In other words, buying a vibe is a powerful act of self-care.
But how do you shop for a vibrator (and incorporate it into your sex life) if you’ve never tried one before? We’ve got you covered.
How to choose the right type of vibrator for you?
“A good place to start is to look at what kind of stimulation you already enjoy,” advises Amy Norton, a sex educator and sex toy reviewer. “If you’re into clitoral stimulation, I might suggest something like a bullet vibrator; if you’re more into G-spot stimulation, I might suggest something that’s designed for internal use. If you like both at the same time, that’s where a rabbit vibrator or dual-stimulation vibe can come in handy.” You can assess this by thinking about how you tend to masturbate and/or what aspects of sex you particularly enjoy. Grinding? Oral? Fingering? Penetration? Something else entirely?
Type of stimulation
The next thing to consider when choosing your first vibrator, Norton says, is whether you’re into broad stimulation or more pinpointed sensations. When you receive oral sex, for example, what tends to feel better for you: a wide, flat tongue pressed against your whole vulva, or the tip of a tongue tracing your clitoris or labia? This distinction can inform whether you’ll go for a big, all-encompassing vibrator, like a wand, or something slimmer, like a bullet.
Type of vibration intensity
Intensity of vibrations is also an important factor. It can be hard to know what you need in this regard if you’ve never used a vibrator, but Norton suggests thinking about whether you tend to prefer firm, rough stimulation (say, from a partner’s hand, or your own), or a lighter, gentler touch. If you’re not sure, or if your preferences tend to vary, she recommends getting a vibrator with multiple vibration modes and different speeds, as opposed to a classic two-speed wand (“I like to say that they have two settings: ‘high’ and ‘holy shit,’” Norton says).
Type of vibration quality
Another crucial consideration is vibration quality. According to Bex Caputo, a sex educator and former sex toy salesperson, there are two main types of vibration: rumbly and buzzy. Rumbly vibration can be felt more deeply in the body, tends to cause less of the temporary desensitization some people dislike about vibrators, and is usually found in midrange to high-end toys. Buzzy vibration, on the other hand, feels more surface level, is more prone to causing numbness, and is most prevalent in cheaper toys. “If you can get your hands on a toy”—such as at a sex shop—“you can notice whether that sensation feels pleasant on your fingers,” Caputo says. If your fingers start to feel numb, itchy, or uncomfortable just from holding a vibrator while it’s turned on, the vibrations probably won’t feel good on your genitals either.