When you think of the best sex toys of all time, you probably think first and foremost about vibrators. And while the concept of a vibrator seems pretty straightforward at first, once you begin shopping for one, you'll find yourself inundated with toys of all shapes and sizes that are intended for use on different parts of the body. Many of these toys, such as the phallic ones, appear intuitive, but there are also a slew of toys incorporating new sex toy technologies and more abstract (and inclusive) designs.
Still, vibrators tend to fall into a few basic categories. Once you know what each one is and how to use each type of vibrator, you'll be more empowered to make the best decisions for yourself and/or your partner on your next sex toy shopping spree. Below, check out our expert-vetted explainer on each type of vibrator, so you'll be ready for your most well-informed (and most fun) vibrator experience yet.
The Wand Vibrator
Wand vibrators (also known as personal massagers) are among the most popular and recognizable sex toys of all time. In the words of sexologist and intimacy coach Marla Renee Stewart, this toy has a head with "a dome-like shape" that offers "a deep and strong vibration." Indeed, these vibrators can also double as massagers for erogenous zones or simply for tired or achy parts of the body.
When it comes to how to use them, Stewart says, "You always need to read the directions for whatever wand vibrator that you have, as many of them have different speeds and modes and even attachments. Some of them are rechargeable and some are battery-operated or plug-in, so make sure that you follow the directions according to the company. Typically wands are used on the clitoris, but there are attachments that can be used for penetration. If you are using it on your clitoris and you are a squirter, it's highly recommended that you use a waterproof wand because you don't want to cause the wand any damage from fluid, which could void any warranty you have."
"For beginners and partner play, the Lovehoney Dream Wand Rechargeable Mini Massage Wand Vibrator is a great choice thanks to its size," says Javay Frye-Nekrasova, a sexpert for Lovehoney (opens in new tab). "Since it is a mini, it is not a giant leap in size from a bullet massager, but introduces a new design and power to the user. The size is also great for partner play because it is small enough to not intrude, but still offer powerful stimulation."
The Bullet Vibrator
"A bullet vibrator is a small, handheld, typically cylindrical, sex toy that can be used for direct, pinpointed stimulation on the body," says Frye-Nekrasova. For this reason, they're excellent for both beginners exploring where they most like to be touched as well as experienced users who know exactly where they want their vibrator to stimulate them. Bullet vibrators are also excellent for stimulating other erogenous zones—something we explore in our guide on how to use them.
This is one of ethical porn site founder (Sssh.com (opens in new tab)) Angie Rowntree's favorite bullet vibrators, and it's one of mine, too. She says, "This gorgeous slimline bullet doubles as statement jewelry for the ultimate in “hidden in plain sight” delight! The Bond girl of its namesake, Vesper is ready to go anywhere with you in style. The body, tip, and chain is made of high polish 316 stainless steel, and you can get it in rose gold, silver, or yellow gold finish–and engravement options are even available. Vesper has a simple push-button that delivers 4 levels of fun, and the battery is fully rechargeable."
The G-Spot Vibrator
For people who enjoy vaginal penetration and the novel sensations of a vibrating toy, a G-spot vibrator is the way to go. Frye-Nekrasova defines these vibrators as "insertable vibrator[s] that [are] designed to stimulate the g-spot," which can be accomplished by thrusting the toy in and out of the vagina or grinding against it after insertion.
But what is the g-spot, exactly? AASECT Certified Sex Therapist Shamyra Howard explains, "The g-spot is said to be a sensitive area located at least two to three inches inside the vagina. One way to stimulate the area is by using a finger in the 'come here' motion." This mode of stimulation has inspired the distinctive shapes behind some of the best g-spot vibrator designs.
Stewart calls this "a fantastic pick" for G-spot stimulation. "Not only does it have 12 vibrations," she says, "but the ridges on the outside stimulate the entrance to the vaginal canal, which is one of the most sensitive parts of the vagina." She also adds that it's completely waterproof and submersible, "just in case you want to take it in the tub with you. What's cool about this vibrator is that it has a turbo boost for each vibrational setting, so you get that kickstart every time you move up a level!"
The Rabbit Vibrator
Are you a fan of both clitoral and g-spot stimulation? Then consider the widely beloved rabbit vibrator. "A rabbit vibrator is a classic sex toy that originally was designed with a long insertable portion for the vaginal canal and an outer clitoral stimulation portion that looked like bunny ears," says Frye-Nekrasova. "Over the decades the designs have changed where some rabbits now don't have the traditional bunny ears, but they still have the dual stimulation with an insertable portion and an outer portion that touches the clitoris."
In recent years, a variety of rabbit vibrators have also been designed for long-distance play, partner play, and solo masturbation.
Stewart calls this option "the next gen version of the old rabbit," and it's at the top of her recommendations list. She explains, "Instead of a flickering of the ears for the clitoris, the clitoral vibrator is able to vibrate while applying pressure for those who need more pressure on their clitoris. With this vibrator, you can have an extended session, as its maximum run time is 50 minutes; this means that you can take your time to enjoy your orgasm without worrying about if it will die on you. Just remember to plug it back in when you're done so it will be ready for you for the next time!"
The Clitoral Suction Vibrator
"Some clitoral stimulators are described as 'suction vibes,'" says author and sexologist Dr. Jess O'Reilly, but she points out that many of these toys don't actually suck on the clitoris. "Instead, they’re surrounding the head of the clitoris to create a suction-like sensation."
These toys are particularly appealing to people who enjoy oral sex or prefer clitoral stimulation that's gentler than the type provided by a wand or bullet vibrator. With a clitoral suction vibrator, Dr. O'Reilly says, a "unique pleasure massage is created by tiny changes in air pressure that surround the head of the clitoris — providing indirect stimulation that tends to create deeper sensations of pleasure and orgasm."
Dr. O'Reilly is a big fan of the Womanizer toy, citing its patented Pleasure Air technology and how customizable it is. "Womanizer toys come with changeable 'heads' so you can customize the size according to your specific needs," she explains. "Some people have a clitoral head/glans that is highly visible and others find that theirs is more 'hidden' under the clitoral hood. You can often retract the skin of the hood to reveal the head, but some people prefer to play with toys over the hood for a more subtle sensation."
The Remote Vibrator
Dr. Laurie Mintz, a tenured Professor of the Psychology of Human Sexuality, says that this type of vibrator "can be controlled remotely," meaning that you don't need to press any buttons on the actual toy in order to get it to work.
"There are generally three types of these toys," Dr. Mintz tells us. The first is "those that are controlled with a separate remote, within a certain radius (kind of like remote-controlled cars you may have had or seen when a kid)."
The second type of remote vibrator allows you or a partner to control the settings and switch between modes by using a mobile application, but, again, "within a specific radius."
Finally, the third type of remote vibrator "can be controlled locally via Bluetooth connection or remotely from anywhere with an internet connection," Dr. Mintz says. "These are terrific for long-distance relationships, yet there is a caution associated with them, and that is that it’s important to choose a toy with proper security and anonymization to avoid being vulnerable to the image of you being exposed."
For that reason, check out our comprehensive list of the best remote vibrators, which have been vetted so you can have fun without worrying about any invasions of privacy.
"Because We-Vibe has produced several versions of this toy over the years, the updated Chorus has been thoughtfully updated and designed for comfort and pleasure," Dr. O'Reilly attests. "It’s flexible, powerful, rumbly and has all the bells and whistles, including the option to customize your vibration patterns and control it from anywhere in the world using the We-Connect app."
The Vibrating Panty
In the mood for some clandestine fun? Then consider vibrating panties. Frye-Nekrasova says, "Vibrating panties are vibrators design to sit in the underwear and stimulate the clitoris. They can come with a specific panty or be designed to fit into any and all panties. You use them by placing them in the portion of the panties that sits against the clitoris or other parts of the vulva you want to stimulate and you can control the functions with the remote that comes with the panties or the vibe."
Just be sure, when you buy, that you test out the toys before wearing and using them in public. No one wants to find themselves accidentally reenacting that notorious scene from When Harry Met Sally.
Dr. Jess O'Reilly calls this "the ultimate panty vibe" because of how "powerful, quiet, slim, and really discreet" it is. Furthermore, it can be controlled from a mobile app, making both partner and solo play infinitely easier and more hands-free.
The Anal Vibrator
Frye-Nekrasova tells us that, in the simplest of terms, "anal vibrators are anal toys that vibrate." As examples, she lists "anal beads that vibrate, vibrating butt plugs and prostate massagers."
Our experts remind us, though, to be sure to only use sex toys that are specifically marked as and made for anal use. Dr. Zhana Vrangalova, a LELO (opens in new tab)Sexpert and NYU Professor of Human Sexuality, explains that anal vibrators "are typically shaped differently to fit the anatomy of the rectum rather than the clitoris and vagina, and they typically have a tapered end so they don't get lost inside the rectum (something that's not of concern with clitoral and vaginal vibrators)."
Furthermore, she reminds us to "apply plenty of lube that's compatible with the material of the vibrator." For clarification on how to find the right lube that's compatible with the material your anal toys are made of, check out our guide to the best lubes.
Finally, when it comes to anal stimulation, remember that slow and steady wins the race. "Go slow," says Dr. Vrangalova. "Build it up slowly and gently, going from a finger or a thin vibrator to a larger one as the sphincter relaxes." Plus, to avoid embarrassing and/or messy situations, she advises taking precautions.
"Go to the bathroom a couple of hours before anal play. Make sure you don't feel like you have to go right before you're about to play," she says, adding, "Clean out your anus with soap and water. You could do an enema, although it's not really necessary unless you're planning on stuffing really big vibrators in there. Don't eat spicy or otherwise diarrhea-inducing types of meals the night before."
For more specific tips on how to use an anal vibrator, take a look at our comprehensive guide on how to use every kind of vibrator as well as our round-up of the best anal vibrators you can buy online.
Dr. O'Reilly loves this toy for advanced users in particular. "This remote prostate toy creates full body sensations with its bulbous shape and circular stroking motion," she says. "The internal portion is silky smooth while the external base is textured for pressure and massage against the perineum. "
For more, visit our Sexual Wellness section, where we unpack topics around consent, kink, sex toys, and more so you can have your safest and very best sexperiences yet.
Meet the Experts
Javay Frye-Nekrasova, MEd, is a sex educator, pleasure professional, and sex expert for Lovehoney. Specializing in pleasure, communication, and sex toys, she is passionate about making comprehensive sex education accessible for all and is in the process of earning a PhD in Human Sexuality from the California Institute of Integral Studies. Her research focuses on sex work, porn, as well as the relationship between the media and society's understanding of sexuality. She also provides sex education via YouTube and social media for her digital series, In Bed With a Millennial. You can find her on Instagram here: @MillennialSexpert.
Originally from Macedonia, Dr. Zhana Vrangalova has always been interested in transcending traditionalism and cultural boundaries in order to foster better relationships and self-esteem. Now, in addition to teaching at NYU, she offers online courses to help people be their most authentic selves and engage in fulfilling relationships.
Canadian-born Angie Rowntree is an award-winning indie filmmaker who pivoted into ethical porn when she founded Sssh.com, a porn site that exclusively produces ethical, feminist material. The site has won numerous awards and is the longest running feminist porn site on the internet.
Marla Renee Stewart, MA is a professional sexologist and intimacy/relationship/sex coach. In addition to working as a speaker and author on these topics, she is also a sexpert for the sexual wellness brand Lovers ,owns a sexual education company called Velvet Lips, and is a faculty member at Clayton State University, where she teaches Sociology and Women’s and Gender Studies. Co-Founder of the Sex Down South Conference and a board member of both PARK Reproductive Justice NOW! and the Diverse Sexualities and Research Education Institute, Stewart is passionate about bringing together diverse voices in order to spread sexual education and liberation.
You may also know Stewart from the media: She has been featured on over 60 podcasts and and television shows, making appearances on the likes of Netflix’s Trigger Warning with Killer Mike, VH1's Love & HipHop Atlanta, GPB's Personal Injury Court, and Oxygen's Bad Girls Club: Atlanta. In addition, she also sits on the Boards for SPARK Reproductive Justice NOW! and the Diverse Sexualities and Research Education Institute.
Shamyra Howard is an international award-winning sexologist, licensed clinical social worker, and AASECT certified sex therapist committed to helping people improve their relationship and intimate lives. She is also the founder of On the Green Couch, where she helps people overcome sexual obstacles, and has authored two books.
Dr. O’Reilly is an award-winning sex and relationship expert. Through her company, Happier Couples Inc. (opens in new tab), she provides online and in-person relationship education to couples. She also works with corporate executives and business owners to help them form stronger professional relationships, and she has performed extensive research on making classroom-based sexual education more robust and accessible. In addition to working as an expert for Lovehoney, she is also featured on Global TV’s The Morning Show and PlayboyTV’s Swing, and co-hosts the Sex With Dr. Jess Podcast (opens in new tab) with her partner, Brandon Ware (opens in new tab).
Dr. Laurie Mintz is an award-winning tenured professor at the University of Florida, where she teaches the Psychology of Human Sexuality. Her work has been published in over 50 peer-reviewed academic research journals along with six chapters in academic books, and she has maintained a private practice for over 30 years that helps couples and individuals with sexual issues. A Fellow of the American Psychological Association, she has also authored two books: Becoming Cliterate: Why Orgasm Equality Matters and How to Get It and A Tired Woman’s Guide to Passionate Sex: Reclaim Your Desire and Reignite Your Relationship. Her overall mission is to provide scientifically accurate, sex positive education that prioritizes female pleasure. Currently, she also works as an expert for LELO.
Gabrielle Ulubay is an E-Commerce Writer at Marie Claire and writes about all things beauty, sexual wellness, and fashion. She's also written about sex, gender, and politics for publications like The New York Times, Bustle, and HuffPost Personal since 2018. She has worked extensively in the e-commerce and sales spaces since 2020, including two years at Drizly, where she developed an expertise in finding the best, highest quality goods and experiences money can buy. As a film school graduate, she loves all things media and can be found making art when she's not busy writing.
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