There's no wrong vibrator out there. There's also no best sex toy or vibrator, since "best" ultimately varies from person to person. When it comes to buying your first sex toy, the best course of action is to get clarity around your key wants and needs first, so that you're able to make a confident, well-informed choice.
To help you get there, we've pulled together some of the most important factors to consider when buying your first vibrator...
Think about how you plan on using it.
Do you want to use it mostly on your own? Do you want something a partner could easily use on you? Or together, while having penetrative sex? If it's your first vibrator, we'd recommend something that's designed with individual use in mind first, since it's easiest to learn what you like on your own before venturing into partnered vibrator play.
That said, there are many vibrators designed for individual use that translate well into sex, so you can get the best of both worlds. Look for vibrators that are small - so as not to get in the way or become unwieldy - and make it easy for you or a partner to have control over vibration patterns and intensity through easy button access, and hands-free operation (like Dame's Eva II), or squeeze control (like the Limon).
Build from what you already know feels good.
To get a vibrator that works best for you and your unique sexual responses, consider what gets you going in other situations. Figure out what types of sensation feel best on your body through - you guessed it - masturbation! Touch yourself and see what feels good, whether it's insertion or focus on the clitoris, soft touching or more pressure, low and slow or fast-paced, direct or indirect touch.
From here, there are options for vibrators that insert into your vagina or focus on the clitoris, or both at the same time. While it's common to want vaginal insertion (since it mimics intercourse), 70% of women ultimately need clitoral stimulation to orgasm, so if you aren't totally sure of what will get you there, there's a good chance that a vibrator focusing on clitoral stimulation will be best to start with.
Another aspect of stimulation is buzzy versus rumbly. It seems like those two terms are similar, but the difference in sensation between the two is actually pretty important. It has less to do with intensity and more to do with the quality of the vibrations themselves. Lower-quality vibrators tend to be buzzy, with surface-level vibrations that may even feel sharp or "zappy" at times. They're also likely to make a more discernible noise, like a bee buzzing by or a barbershop.
Understandably, people generally prefer rumbly vibes. These go deeper, incorporating more nerve endings, which makes a huge difference in pleasure since most of the clitoris is internal. If a vibrator is being used for vaginal penetration, then you'd also likely prefer a rumbly toy, as the vibrations are more likely to spread throughout the full shaft of the toy.
How important is hitting the g-spot for your orgasm? When thinking about buying your first sex toy, it's important to determine your priority level–is a clitoral or g-spot orgasm your preferred option? External vibrators will focus on clitoral orgasms whereas internal sex toys will give your g-spot more attention.
Consider the "small" details (that make a big difference).
While a vibrator's volume level could be less of a concern for those without roommates or thin walls, it's probably safe to assume that the vast majority of us would not choose a loud vibrator. The good news is that most sex toy manufacturers are beginning to understand the equal importance of power and discretion, meaning you don't have to skimp out on powerful vibrations to keep things on the down-low. A discreet vibrator is usually under 50 decibels, as Lioness found.
A vibrator's noise levels mostly have to do with the quality, placement, and speed of its motor. A bigger/slower motor will generally be quieter and more bass-like, while a smaller/faster motor will be higher pitched and noisier.
It's obviously tricky to know how loud a vibrator will be if you're purchasing it online, but a good rule of thumb is this: if a seller doesn't acknowledge volume level at all, chances are they're selling a loud vibrator. Even if a vibrator's quietness is used as a marketing point, you should still back up the claims by looking at reviews from other customers and sex toy bloggers/vloggers for an added vote of confidence.
Any vibrating materials will ultimately make some level of noise, but with doors closed, ambient sounds like fans or showers, and manufacturers building vibrators with quieter motors, you can vibe away in good faith that you'll go undetected.
Rechargeable vibrators are generally more eco-friendly than vibrators that require vibrators, with charging stations that generally tend to take up no more space than a phone or laptop charger would. Additionally, there's a better chance of rechargeable vibrators being truly waterproof (but you should still double-check that detail before hopping in the shower with it).
You can keep the battery in tip-top shape for a longer period of time by removing the vibrator from its charging station once it's fully charged. It's important to remember that once a built-in battery is dead, the vibrator's dead - so you want to prolong its life.
A clear benefit of a battery-operated vibrator is that there's no waiting period to charge, so you can get right to it when the mood strikes. One thing to keep in mind: you should try to remove the battery anytime you're not using the vibrator. Certified sex education, Alicia Sinclair warns that "batteries can break down and potentially ruin your sex toy. Plus, the batteries will lose power more quickly and you'll need to buy replacements more often if you leave them in."
There are vibrators that look like a tube of lipstick, a rubber duck, or a stylish necklace just as there are bold, ribbed vibrators that quite obviously look like penises, with a growing number of options that fall somewhere in between. You'll find what you're naturally attracted to with sight alone, but also consider the level of discretion you're seeking. Lots of new vibrators on the market look like aesthetically pleasing massagers, meaning you might not even feel the need to hide them deep in the back of your sock drawer.
That said, remember that a beautiful vibrator doesn't inevitably mean a better orgasm, especially if it doesn't seem like it'd conform to your body. How would it feel in your hand? How would the material feel against your skin? How would it fit against your clitoris or inside you?
The shower's a perfect place to get down with a vibrator, especially since you're already naked and the sounds of the water are a great sound barrier. Just be sure to check that whatever vibrator you're considering is waterproof ahead of time, and tightly close any screw-tops of battery-operated vibrators. Lean on the side of apprehension when it comes to any waterproof claims from brands you don't trust. The sex toy industry isn't yet regulated, so there isn't technically a legal back-up of any waterproof claims.
Also - as fun as it sounds, we'd highly recommend against using your vibrator in a hot tub, since it's extremely hot. The average bath is totally fine, though!
Ensure you're investing in quality.
How much do you plan to spend on a vibrator?
The majority of premium vibrators will run at least $100, which can sound expensive and isn't within range for many people. The price tag comes with a good reason, though. It might be your first time making this type of purchase so trust us–you and your pleasure are worth investing in, period. More tangibly, anything getting so up close and personal with your vagina on a regular basis should be a certain level of quality that cheap vibrators won't uphold.
There's a factor of discernment on your end around what you trust to put down (or in) there, but that trust can be boosted by buying from reputable brands that have a heightened standard of integrity towards their customers, employees, and products, which usually means higher price tags.
What do you get from all this? No surprise rashes or battery fires (it's a thing), a vibrator that you can drop or bring on a trip with a much lower chance of breaking, and an overall better experience with nicer feeling materials and higher quality vibrations.
With so many vibrators on the market, there are options across every budget. Ultimately, even if it's your first vibrator, you should still be able to use it happily and safely for years to follow, and it should get you excited about future vibrators and other sex toys.
Pay attention to body-safe (and easy clean) materials.
While most vibrator brands make it clear that "body-safe" is something that's important, there's not much information readily available around what that actually means.
The places in our body where we'd typically put a sex toy have mucous membranes, which prevent things like dirt and pathogens from entering the body. This means they also absorb fluids and chemicals, meaning a material needs to be non-porous (meaning the opposite of sponge-like) and inert (non-reactive, chemically) to be used in these places repeatedly. These materials are also significantly easier to clean regularly, with unscented soap and water, since they won't soak in any potentially harmful chemicals or have a negative surface reaction.
You'll see that a lot of high-quality vibrators are made with "medical grade" silicone, which means the material has been tested and has been found suitable within actual medical devices. You might also see "FDA-approved" silicone, which means the material has been tested for use in food production equipment, which isn't so useful in grading vibrators, since food production products aren't tested for contact within human bodies.
The most unsafe materials for vibrators are the ones that are porous and potentially toxic like jelly, rubber, latex, and lots of realistic, skin-like materials. You could use a condom with these items and still end up with painful side effects like itching, burning, or infections. So we'd recommend staying away altogether. We don't want your first time exploring sex toys to end up giving you an infection.
Speaking of condoms - it's totally normal to slip one over a vibrator, if body-safety is a particular concern and you want to give yourself the extra back up.
When in doubt, ask.
Word-of-mouth goes a long way when it comes to something as personal and nuanced as choosing the first vibrator.
If you're not comfortable asking a friend or family member about their experiences and recommendations, there's a wealth of experts online (we especially love sex therapist Vanessa Marin and blogger/vlogger Erika Lynae, to name a couple) or offline at a local sex shop. Gynecologists are also increasingly working with patients to find vibrators and other sex toys that suit their needs, so don't shy away from asking yours at your next check-up. They want your vagina to be happy and healthy in every way as much as you do.
It goes without saying that there isn't a one-size-fits-all first vibrator, but as long as you know a bit more about your specific requirements, you're on the right track to find out what works and feels best for you.