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19 Mar 2021 (Last updated 09 Feb 2024)

A beginner's guide to vibrators

Vibrator Guide 16 min read
different types of vibrators

The different types of vibrating sex toys, explained. From a clitoral stimulator to an oral sex simulator, read our beginners guide to vibrators!

With more than 1 in 2 vulva owners owning one, and many more curious, there will come a time in our lives where we want to pick our first vibrator. But, where to begin? We’ve got everything you –and your body- need to know to get started on your sexual wellness journey.

Or, maybe you want to choose your second, third or fourth toy. If you already include vibrators in your solo or partnered sex sessions, experimenting with different types of stimulation will keep you discovering your pleasure preferences.

This is a guide for vibrators designed for women and people with vulvas, and their pleasure anatomy. Let’s get started!

What is a vibrator?

A vibrator is not the same as a dildo. Dildos are designed for penetration, and usually don’t vibrate. Vibrators, well, vibrate and come in all shapes and sizes. Also, they aren’t just for internal pleasure – a lot of vibrators are for external stimulation and exploring our outer erogenous zones! That’s why vibrators are often categorised by the areas they stimulate; internal, external, dual.

Types of external vibrators.

Did you know that over 70% of vulva owners need external stimulation to reach orgasm? That’s why these types of vibrators make great first-time buys; you’re almost guaranteed to find them pleasurable. More so, many of us can find penetration uncomfortable or painful during sex, but these toys allow for sexual exploration and enjoyment without that worry.

External vibrators are designed to stimulate our external genitalia, aka the vulva! Remember, the vulva encompasses the mon pubis, labia, clitoral glans and labia - all of which can become sensitive to touch… in a good way. The most notorious pleasurable spot for women and vulva owners is the clitoris, so many external sex toys focus on this kind of stimulation; bullet and clit vibrators are solid go-tos. However, the rest of the vulva shouldn’t be forgotten - vulval and tongue vibrators ensure that’s not the case.

1. The lipstick vibrator.

Introducing the most discreet sex toy of them all, a lipstick vibrator. Originally designed to look like makeup, this small clit vibrator is really shaped to stimulate between the other lips. Its slanted tip provides direct pressure against the clitoris for a very efficient and fast way to reach orgasm. Better yet, lipstick vibrators may actually be cheaper than your favorite lipstick!

For a modern-day version that needs no disguising, try The Whisperer. Pucker up for pleasure with its curved, dipped head that fits on the clitoral glans to create an irresistible embrace. Plus, it’s made of the squishiest and most flexible silicone for controlled pressure and a gentle touch. Developed with moms returning to sex with vibrators, The Whisperer is about finding or reconnecting with pleasure for the first time. If you are a newcomer or re-comer, a rechargeable clit vibrator is what you need.

2. The bullet vibrator.

A bullet is an ultimate vibrator for traveling. The classic, pocket-sized vibrator is a great way to upgrade your session from finger masturbation to using a toy. Although this compact style may be discreet, its precise stimulation of the clitoris is anything but. Well-known for packing a pleasure punch, a bullet vibe can offer up orgasms for solo quickies or during partner sex.

Intended for direct and focused vibration on the clitoral glans, mini vibrators like The Surfer provide an opportunity to play with pressure and different techniques of clitoral touch such as orbiting and layering. Experimenting with sensations is important, as all clitorises are different in size and sensitivity! The clitoral hood that protects the clitoral glans can impact how we experience friction and rubbing; direct touch can sometimes feel like too much, hence layering - using the vibrator over underwear or clothing - can feel much less intense and more pleasurable.

3. The clitoral vibrator.

The clitoris is the only organ in the entire body whose one function is pleasure. So, it totally makes sense that it’s key to reaching orgasm for many of us during masturbation and partner sex; especially sexual intercourse ie penetrative sex. Very few vulva owners can climax through penetration alone, and it’s for this reason that we want more than just direct clitoral stimulation; we want to play and have fun too, not just efficiently orgasm! This type of vibrator is liked by people who enjoy stimulation both on and around the clitoris, as well as those looking to ramp up the pleasure with a penetrative partner. During partner sex, and especially positions such as missionary, clit vibrators can fit effortlessly between bodies without much adjusting - appealing, right?

Logistics out the way, clit stimulators also amplify things anatomically. Consider the fact that the visible part of the clitoris is only one quarter of the entire thing, and when aroused the entire structure engorges. Yep, it’s not just penis-owners that get boners! When clitorises become erect (yep, we know) the external part and surrounding labia can become plumper and more sensitive. Finding a vibrator that focuses on the clitoris nub and carries vibrations to the labia, like The Firefighter, will unlock a very pleasurable kind of dual-sensation.

4. The tongue vibrator.

Want to recreate oral sex? For fans of cunnilingus, tongue vibrators mimic gentle (or, not-so-gentle) licks anywhere on the body. Visually resembling a tongue, and ergonomically shaped to be supple, these playful vibes are a great alternative to ticklers - and can be used on everybody. These kinds of gender-neutral toys allow for experimentation in the bedroom with partners and without society’s gender norms getting in the way - yay!

A vibrating tongue-like tip over your or your partner’s body gives you a new way to experiment with pleasure spots, especially if you find nipple play arousing. A top tip to optimize the realistic sensations with a vibrator such as The French Lover is to add lubricant. You can also try tickling during sex with tiny, just-touching flicks on your own neck or earlobe.


5. The vulva vibrator.

For a more expansive type of stimulation, try a toy that cups the entire vulva. Perfect for slow solo sex (we promise it’s a thing!), vulval vibrators encourage more mindful masturbation. Like the embrace of another hand between your legs, they are made to fit and massage the labia, clitoral glans, and the very start of the vaginal opening all at the same time. This all-encompassing stimulation allows for grounding, a masturbation technique known for its multiple orgasm potential!

An organic shape, like The Ballerina, means it sits in your palm naturally and can be used hands-free too. If you do want to invite a partner in on your sex-pamper session, the shape also lends itself to intuitive use.


6. The wand vibrator.

When it comes to types of vibrators for female pleasure, one of the most iconic is also well-known as the neck massager in SATC. Wand vibrators really paved the way for more open conversations about the fact that vulva owners do masturbate (duh!). The plug-in-at-the-wall sex toy is as versatile as it is powerful, with a handle long enough to reach difficult erogenous spots like the perineum.

Often resembling a microphone, the rounded head provides strong external stimulation. That said, if you’re using a dildo penetratively, a wand held at the base can make some moves, too - like a makeshift vibrator (the only safe kind!).

Types of internal vibrators.

When it comes to internal pleasure, it’s important to remember we don’t have to go deep. The first third of the vagina contains 90% of its nerve endings, so here’s where penetration can really feel stimulating. Size does not matter, more the technique that we use.

Nevertheless, internal vibrators do come in all shapes and sizes - they are way more than just in-and-out jobs. As mentioned, a majority of the clitoris is internal and actually wraps around the vaginal wall. Thus, vaginal stimulation is also clitoral! Guess what? The infamous G-Spot also has ties to the clit structure! So, when looking for inner pleasure; vaginal, G-zone, rabbit and egg vibrators can all hit the spot!

1. The G-spot vibrator.

Vibrators designed for the G-spot massage the vagina’s front wall, a rough textured part that can be highly erogenous - mostly because of its close contact with the clitoris! This zone is different for everyone, and can also change position - so it’s more of a G-spot exploration as opposed to a search for an x marks the spot. Though many women and vulva owners cannot reach orgasm through penetration, a G-spot vibrator is one way to experiment solo and take your time.

Often shaped to imitate a come-hither-to finger action, these internal toys are angled to be inserted just inside the vagina. Massaging the area with consistent speeds and pulsations will build pleasurable sensations that can either contribute to a full-inner orgasm or add to external clitoral play. The Tennis Pro, a powerful but gentle G-spot vibrator, can be used to also tease the vaginal entrance and build-up arousal to make penetration more pleasurable. Egg vibrators are just as versatile, and are a great option for sustained pressure on insertion. If you’re looking for something that can do both at the same time, the dual-action of a rabbit vibrator gives another meaning to in-and-out.

2. The vaginal vibrator.

An internal multi-tasker? For those that want to go a little bit deeper or feel extra stimulation inside, opt for a longer vibrator. The classic sex toy style also ticks off the phallic stereotype, if you enjoy p-in-v sex. Talking of, many vulva owners can find penetration with a partner painful - sussing out the sensation alone, with a tool you have complete control over, can help!

A vaginal vibrator with a curved head will give you the option of stimulating the G-Spot area or trying out sensations around the cervix further in. Ribbed edges, like those on The Romantic, will pleasure the lower third of the vagina at the same time. So, despite being long and sometimes intimidating, these internal vibes give us many depths to dive into.


3. The rabbit vibrator or dual stimulator.

Another vibrator icon is the rabbit, a name inspired by its design; a set of bunny ears that massage the clitoral glans. Like all pleasure products, the rabbit vibrator comes in all different shapes and details - its one key purpose, to hop us into a blended orgasm! To experience both vaginal and clitoral orgasm at the same time, the shaft of the vibrator is inserted for penetrative stimulation, whilst the bunny ears flick the outer clitoris.

The rabbit is by far the most recognizable of dual-vibrators, thanks to mainstream culture. However, designs like The Artist make things much more personalized. From adjustable angles to individual control of each vibrator head, the Smile Makers’ take on a rabbit vibe is all about getting creative with your own pleasure.


4. The versatile vibrator.

In addition to dual-stimulators, there are also sex toys that are designed to work for both the vagina and the vulva to allow for some pleasure exploration. In or out, you decide! If you’ve never used a vibrator before, or are new to masturbation, it’s good to start by working out what kind of pleasure you like. Is internal stimulation your thing? Or, do you prefer more of a vulval focus?

A sleek design such as The Billionaire can be used as a bullet vibrator or a vaginal vibrator for a combined self-love session. The versatility ensures no specific technique is prescribed, it’s all about seeing what feels good!


5. The egg vibrator.

Love eggs are, you guessed it, vibrators shaped like eggs. Small and discreet, similar to a bullet vibe, but much more flexible when it comes to pleasure preferences. Almost any vibrating sex toy can be used on external erogenous zones, there’s no limit to where on our bodies we might like to feel vibrations. Yet, the egg-stra sensations do come from insertion of this kind of vibrator. Most come with a loop or handle for easy removal.

Eggs are often operated via a controller, wireless or otherwise. This makes them perfect for some handsfree, low-effort masturbating with all the feel-good benefits. Plus, they can be great for partner play - especially couples in long distance relationships! The more gadgety ones that can be operated via an app.

Other different types of vibrators.

The perception of female masturbation is changing (hurrah), with pleasure-positive advances in sex tech making space for more innovative and creative designs to elevate sexual experiences for vulva owners! So, what is the future of sex toys?

1. The clit suction toy.

Technically not vibrators, clit suckers are revolutionizing the technology used for female pleasure. One that will blow your mind. This type of clitoris stimulator uses air-pulsation to create a suction sensation directly on the clitoral hood and glans. Of course, a sucking movement appeals for fans of oral sex (hint: add lube) - but also, if you find the buzz of vibrators too intense, air-pulse toys can deliver body-shaking orgasms without direct touch.

The mouth of a clit suction vibrator embraces the external part of the clitoris to create a seal, yet never comes into contact with the tip. No two clitorises are the same, varying in size and sensitivity, so it makes sense that the mouths shouldn’t be a one-size-fits-all. Game-changing air toys like The Poet come with three interchangeable mouths, so you can find what feels best for you. Look out for more ways to personalize pleasure with squeeze sensors to change intensity and lockable features.


2. The wearable vibrator.

In a post-2020 world, it’s no surprise that wearable sex toys are in fashion. Business Insider reported that after a year of celibacy, many people are looking to have more titilating and safe sex. That, plus the fact we’re keen to escape our homes? Hello hands-free vibrators that can be used in public!

Controlled via an app or remote control, wearables elevate solo sex in the bedroom too. They provide an opportunity for you to caress and feel for other erogenous zones, or sit still and tap into some mindful masturbation; either way, hands-free needn’t mean you're not discovering yourself! These types of vibrators up the ante for partner sex too, especially those in long-distance relationships or virtually connecting (cheers again, 2020). Though, we believe that any sex toy can be used for faraway couple sex - and even with an app, listening and communicating with your partner is one of the most stimulating sex tools.

 3. The anal vibrator.

Anal sex - solo or partnered - can feel real good, and should not be put at the bottom (wink wink) of a vulva owner’s pleasure priority list. Similar to the vagina, the anus is rich in nerve endings, most of which are centred around the opening. The spot between the vulva and anus is connected to the perineal sponge and pudendal nerve - both responsible for pleasurable sensations that lead to orgasm. This is called the perineum, and can be stimulated with all types of external toys, like a tongue vibrator, with a little imagination.

For insertion, vibrating butt plugs like The Neighbor provide pressure and fullness that people with vulvas can find extremely satisfying. They are designed to stay in during play, so it’s essential to use one with a flared base (like a handle) to stop it slipping into the anal canal and make it easy to remove. Tapered tips, lots of arousing outercourse, and deep breaths also help find comfort. And, LUBE! The anus, unlike the vagina, does not self-lubricate, so always use a water-based lube.

When it comes to butt stuff, other types of stimulation enhance the experience so try using clitoral vibrators simultaneously. However, never double-dip. Hygiene is key when it comes to rimming and anal play, and anything that has been inserted in your butt should be cleaned safely before inserting into your vagina. Remember, you can use non-lubricated condoms with vibes too.  

Factors to consider when choosing a vibrator.

So, now you’re a vibrator expert. Well, kinda. You’ve all the essential info on the need-to-know vibrators in the sexual wellness space. Now for the fun part… choosing a vibrator for you!

  • Body-safe: Super-soft silicone not only feels good, but as it’s non-porous it’s the most hygienic too! Look out for silicone that is phthalate free. Tiny chemicals that can be harmful to our body, in and on our most sensitive parts? No, thank you!
  • Designed for vulva owners: Vibrators created for the pleasure anatomy of women and people with vulvas allow a sex-positive exploration of your body that sex ed and culture may have denied you before. These sexual wellness tools are about discovering yourself - beyond the most obvious erogenous zones, too.
  • Shape and size: Sexual pleasure is a unique and personal experience, and all our pleasure preferences differ! Take time to work out what kind of stimulation you like, or would like to try. Taking a quiz to find your vibrator match is a useful way to take time out to consider the important questions. Do you masturbate already? Already own a vibe? How do you like to be touched?
  • Pulsation and speeds: Part of the fun of owning a vibrator is being able to try techniques and sensations that you can’t do with a hand alone! Check out the rhythmic pulse options, and whether there’s a lockable feature for your favorite mode. These things ensure you can personalise your vibrator sessions; your pleasure really is in your own hands.
  • Key features: Don’t overlook vibrator product info. Things to check off include;
    - Is the vibrator battery operated or rechargeable?
    - Waterproof or water resistant? It makes bath time more fun and is more hygienic! When vibrators that are waterproof, it makes cleaning them super easy.
    - Is it quiet? Super silent vibrators soundproof your masturbation sessions so that you can really relax without a buzz killing your vibe.
  • The type of lube: When using silicone sex toys always use a water-based lubricant because you don’t want to break down the silicone! It’s also essential when using condoms, so if you’re looking for a vibrator to use with more than one partner, always make sure you’re using a condom, and that if you’re using lube, it’s water-based.
  • Cruelty free: If you want to avoid vibrators that are tested on animals, opt for food-grade silicone. The other option? Medical grade silicone is used for implants or in hospitals, and not needed for transient use eg a vibrator being used for a short period of time. Medical grade silicone is injected into animals to see any negative reactions, it’s unnecessary and cruel. Food grade silicone is the same grade used in spoons to feed babies, so you know it’s top-tier safe.
  • Tips and tricks: New tools often require how-to guides to get things started, and even better if they include vibrator inspiration. User-friendly manuals that throw in some pleasure-positive sex education to help you understand your pleasure anatomy get bonus points: knowledge is power afterall.

Okay, we got too excited earlier - the real fun part is actually getting to use your new chosen sex toy! Safe in the knowledge that you’ve done in-depth vibrator research, and armed with the info you need to discover your full pleasure potential.

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