Now that we’re in the midst of the Holiday season of 2014, we’re all scrambling to find the perfect gift for our special someone, or even just a treat for ourselves! Kids aren’t the only people who look forward to finding toys under the tree, so I visited Philadelphia’s Kink Shoppe, a sex positive and gender neutral adult toy and fetish boutique and spoke to Caitlin, a sex educator and customer service representative. She gave me a ton of information about how to go about buying sex toys for your significant other, and had dozens of great gift ideas!
“When it comes to purchasing something for a partner, a lot of people either tend to think about what they want to see their partner using or what they think their partner would like, and if they haven’t had a lot of experience using toys with their partner, that can often backfire. So they might buy something and say, ‘You know, I bought this dildo because it looks like me.’ It can sometimes not be what they want. Usually I’ll tell people that if you don’t have a lot of experience using toys with your partner to think about what they like or ask them what they like and what they want. In terms of buying things for yourself, it’s the same thing. Think about sensations you like. It’s good to experiment with your body and feel around.”
Caitlin also recommends taking into consideration what materials are in your sex toys so as to avoid risk of injury or disease. “Toxins in sex toys are becoming less of a problem now. I know that a lot of toys now use less pthalates, which is a really toxic material that softens plastic and can cause irritation and can possibly lead to problems with your endocrine system. But there’s still toxic materials and porous materials in general; jelly, elastomer, TPR, things like that are still going to degrade over time and get certain bacteria trapped in them. They could potentially transmit an STI or a bacterial or vaginal yeast infection. So generally I tell people that it’s better to keep with non porous materials like silicon, glass, metal, stone, ABS Hard plastic, ceramics, and treated wood.”
Keeping in mind the who, what, where, when, why, and how in mind, I asked Caitlin what sex toys would be good for anyone to gift to a female partner, especially someone who has never used sex toys before. She recommends, you guessed it, vibrators! “A lot of women can’t orgasm without clitoral stimulation, and vibrations are really good for that.” She showed me We Vibe’s Tango and Touch vibrators, two cute-as-a-button Bullet style vibes. The Tango is a hard-plastic bullet that can also fit into toys with bullet sleeves, including We Vibe’s own Pleasure Mates collection, making the versatile Tango perfect for whatever mood strikes you and your lady. The Touch is wider and covered in silicon, thereby giving We Vibe’s powerful motor a softer transmission of sensation.
If you’re looking for a vibrating toy that can be used either internally or externally, Caitlin points towards the strong and waterproof Lelo Mona 2, whose powerful vibrations will hit both the g-spot and clitoris.
What about toys that you and your lady can use together? “Any toy is a couple’s toy,” said Caitlin, “but a toy made specifically as a [straight] couple’s toy would be the We-Vibe, which is a c-shaped vibrator that can be worn during penetrative sex and vibrates against the clitoris and g-spot.” Not going to lie, the We-Vibe is my current dream toy. However, Caitlin does caution that the We-Vibe “doesn’t work for everyone. It might not sync up with everyone’s anatomy, and not everyone likes how it feels, but that’s any toy. There’s no guarantee that somebody’s going to like it.”
We then talked about a couple’s toy that I have a little more experience with: cock rings! These guys can give those of you with penises a harder, more sustained erection and you can wear it while your partner present or while you’re having some alone time. In terms of non-vibrating rings, Caitlin recommends the Tantus Super Stretch C-Ring, a stretchy silicone ring that is super inexpensive at about $10. You can also try the Tantus C-Sling, made with a firmer silicon than the C-Ring. This guy has a teardrop shaped base that will stimulate your perineum (taint, grundle, gooch, fleshy fun bridge, etc.) for added orgasmic possibilities!
Vibrating cock rings have gotten me into trouble in the past; whenever I put them on my boo’s cock and turn it on, the ring’s goofy space-age look and the loud vibrations make me think that his dick is a rocket ship, sending me into a fit of giggles. I don’t think that I would have that problem with the elegantly designed and whisper quiet Jejoue Mio. According to Caitlin, “It’s silicon, waterproof, rechargeable, has a really stretchy ring, and it’s really strong. It’s top of the line because it’s more comfortable than other rechargeable cock rings that I’ve seen on the market.”
If you’re looking for a stocking stuffer that takes its name seriously seriously, give your guy Tenga’s Egg or Cup! These Japanese masturbation sleeves with keep your penis-owning SO happy while you’re away. The Egg can be washed out and used a few times, while the pre-lubricated Cup is for a single use. These are especially great for a guy who isn’t ready to commit to a more serious sleeve. “The cups would be a good one to start out with because they’re similar to the bigger ones like the Tenga Flip Hole… which opens up so that you can clean it out.”
It’s your time to shine, lesbians! “Some lesbians like penetrative toys, others don’t. If you do, I would recommend a strap on harness of some sort.” Caitlin showed me the SpareParts Hardwear harness, which is super adjustable and machine washable, as well as a simple O’Ring Harness which allows you to change the size of the ring and work with whatever size cock you want. From there, you have lots of different options for what cock you like; there’s the super realistic VixSkin line from Vixen Creations, or you can get a totally bonkers fantasy cock from Bad Dragon. Personally, I’m head over heels in love with the beyond cute and friendly looking dildos from BS Atelier.
If someone in your relationship is a transman looking for a really realistic toy, Caitlin again points toward the VixSkin line from Vixen Creations. “They’re super realistic in terms of texture and look, and they come in a few different skin tones. And not necessarily for sex, but New York Toy Collective makes really nice packers.” Caitlin also showed me New York Toy Collective’s Love Bump, which adds balls to your dildo and includes a bullet vibe. As for transwomen, “It really depends on the person. Any trans person is going to have very varying preferences, and some trans ladies might prefer not to be penetrated. It depends where they are in their transition.”
If you and your partner are interested in exploring kink and BDSM, Caitlin and I both suggest that you learn about safety first, be it through books, films, whatever. Check out Tristan Taormino’s Guide To Bondage For Couples, Midori’s Expert Guide To Sensual Bondage, and Tristan Taormino’s Expert Guide to Kinky Sex for Couples. Once you know what you’re getting yourself into, try Tantus’ Beginner Ball Gag. “It’s silicon and it fills your mouth, but it has a small base so it doesn’t prop your jaw open too much, which can be uncomfortable.”
If you want something to put in your butt, check out NJoy’s Pure Plugs and Pfun Plug for the male g-spot. They’re made of weighty surgical stainless steel, with a deliciously bulbous head and a tapered stem for easy retention. Not only that, they’re just gorgeous and super sexy looking.
All of these toys (and many more!) are available at Kink Shoppe in Philadelphia, or at your own locally owned adult store. All of us at HMFH wish you the merriest of sex lives as you head into the new year!
*HeyEpiphora.com is one of our favorite sex toy review sites, run by veteran sex toy reviewer Epiphora. We also encourage you to read her awesome holiday sex toy guide from 2013 here.