For products meant to make us feel good, shopping for sex toys can be surprisingly stressful — especially once you spot the price tag on that high-tech vibrator or souped-up stroker you’ve been eyeing. There’s no boner-killer quite like sticker shock.
This is particularly true when it comes to best-selling sex toys like the Lelo Mona 2 vibrator ($169.99), the stainless steel nJoy Pure Wand dildo ($120) and the B-Vibe Rimming butt plug ($165). Considering those are all different categories of toy with different uses, it’s easy to see how you could drive yourself into debt just stocking your nightstand drawer.
That said, not all expensive toys are worth their asking price — and a toy being affordable doesn’t automatically mean it’ll disappoint you. There are plenty of well-crafted toys out there that can blow your mind without breaking the bank. In fact, it can be much more cost-effective to try a cheaper version of a toy and see if you like it before committing to a pricier model.
Three Things to Consider When Shopping for Cheap Sex Toys
1) Material. This is the most crucial consideration when it comes to cheap toys. Just because you can get a $10 dildo doesn’t mean you should, especially since low-quality toy materials (namely, jelly, rubber and PVC) often contain harmful chemicals like phthalates, and are impossible to fully clean because of their porosity. Instead, look for toys made of silicone, hard plastic, glass, stainless steel, glazed ceramic or wood, and (in the case of strokers) phthalate-free elastomer. They’re known to be much safer, and won’t cause the irritation or infections you could get from using unsafe toys.
2) Functionality. If you’re buying a vibrator, for example, do you want it to be usable clitorally, vaginally, anally or all of the above? Different uses require different features — for instance, any toy you plan on inserting anally should have a flared base, to prevent an embarrassing trip to the emergency room if the toy gets lost inside you.
3) Ease of Use. This can be the difference between a toy you use once, get annoyed with and never use again, and a toy you immediately fall in love with and want to use every time. Keep an eye out for features like multiple buttons (as opposed to a single button) for scrolling through all of the toy’s settings and intensities, ergonomic handles and comfortable-looking shapes. Reading reviews of a toy online can give you a better idea of whether it’ll work for you.
The Best Cheap Sex Toys
Best Cheap Vibrator: Pleasure Works Orchid G
What It’ll Do for You: This classic battery-operated vibe is surprisingly powerful for its price point. Its long body and tilted head make it an ergonomic choice for adding some clit stimulation during penetrative sex, and it also feels great on the G-spot, as its name suggests. You control the vibration intensity using a dial, rather than buttons, which gives you more precise control for those moments when you need a little more power to send you over the edge. It’s made of ABS plastic, which is a body-safe material that’s easy to clean, too.
What It Won’t: The lack of a properly flared base on this toy makes it less-than-ideal for anal insertion, although it can still provide prostate stimulation indirectly if you press it against your taint (aka perineum).
The Last Word: The Orchid G is powerful, adjustable, versatile and waterproof — all rare qualities in vibes under $30. Stock up on AA batteries and go to town.
Best Cheap Dildo: Blush Novelties Avant D10 Ergo
What It’ll Do For You: This sleek dildo is made of dual-density silicone, meaning it has a firm core with a layer of squishier silicone laid on top, for a more realistic and comfortable feel. It’s harness-compatible, anal-safe and has a suction cup base, making it easy to use both solo and with a partner. The pronounced swell where the head meets the shaft is fantastic for stroking the G-spot or prostate on every thrust.
What It Won’t: At only 1.25 inches in diameter, this dildo might not do much for you if you love girthy penetration.
The Last Word: Midway between “realistically cock-like” and “artfully abstract,” this jackoff-of-all-trades dildo should please a wide range of users.
Best Cheap Cock Ring: ROMP Juke
What It’ll Do For You: Cock rings promote stronger, longer-lasting erections, as well as more powerful orgasms. This one vibrates, and its shape is designed to hug your partner’s body during penetrative sex for maximal contact with their clit or perineum, leading to more intense sensations for both of you. You can also wear it with the vibrating part facing downwards when your balls want some extra attention.
What It Won’t: Like many smaller rechargeable vibes, the ROMP Juke doesn’t have a long battery life — only about an hour — but that’s no big deal if you can remember to plug it in between sessions.
The Last Word: Even used solo, this stretchy silicone ring can do a lot for your sensitivity and pleasure — but it does its best work during penetrative sex, when its thrumming vibrations can stimulate both partners’ hotspots at once.
Best Cheap Stroker: Tenga Egg
What It’ll Do For You: These super-stretchy strokers are available in a variety of textures, so you can try out different sensations on the cheap. They come with their own lube and integrate seamlessly into masturbation, acting as a pleasurable buffer layer between your hand and your dick.
What It Won’t: These strokers are disposable, and are technically meant to be one-use-only because of their thin and flimsy elastomer material. But many users find they can rinse out their Tenga Egg and reuse it a few times. You also can’t thrust into them as easily as you can with strokers that have a hard-shell casing, like Fleshlights.
The Last Word: If you’re curious about strokers but don’t have the cash for a higher-end one just yet, Tenga Eggs are a good temporary option. Some of their textures are so intense, they’ll leave your brain feeling scrambled (sorry).
Best Cheap Pressure Wave Toy: Romp Switch
What It’ll Do For You: “Pressure wave” or “pleasure air” technology uses rhythmic waves of air to create a sensation that’s somewhere between sucking, tapping and stroking. This toy is made for clitoral pleasure, whether you’re using it on its own, paired with other sex toys or during sex with a partner. It’s quite a different feeling than vibration, and some people find it easier to orgasm — and to achieve multiple orgasms — with pressure-wave toys than with standard vibrators.
What It Won’t: The Romp Switch is louder than many other toys of this type, so it may not be the best pick for situations where discretion is required. It’s battery-operated, so you’ll need to keep some AAA batteries on hand. It’s also not as powerful as some of the more high-end options in this category, but you can always upgrade later if you get hooked on pressure-wave sensations.
The Last Word: With its six escalating power settings, conveniently petite form and soft silicone “mouth,” the Romp Switch is the best pressure-wave toy you can get for $30 or less.
Best Cheap Butt Plug: Tantus Neo
What It’ll Do For You: The slim, tapered tip of the Tantus Neo makes it easier to insert, especially if you’ve done some warm up with a finger or two beforehand. The base curves slightly, so as to fit more comfortably against your body, whether you’re wearing this plug during masturbation, sex or on a trip to the grocery store (hey, I don’t know your life). Its silicone is smooth and silky-soft, and pairs beautifully with water-based lubes.
What It Won’t: At 1.4 inches in diameter, the Tantus Neo will be a challenge for some beginners, hence the need to warm up with fingers or smaller toys beforehand. It doesn’t vibrate, although if you’re craving some vibration, you can always hold a vibe against the base of the toy while it’s inserted.
The Last Word: The Tantus Neo is a versatile plug that should work well for many different people’s bodies and preferences. It’s comfy enough for long-term wear (provided you re-lube as needed), and its base feels amazingly unobtrusive between the cheeks, compared to many other plugs.
Best Cheap Prostate Massager: Doc Johnson OptiMALE P-Massager
What It’ll Do For You: This silicone toy is shaped to curve directly into your prostate once inserted, while its external portion rubs deliciously against your perineum. Every squeeze of your PC muscles (those are the ones that control the flow of pee) pushes the toy harder against your spot, so you can create rolling waves of pleasure just by clenching and unclenching. It makes a wonderful addition to masturbation or partnered sex because of how much intensity it can add to your experience.
What It Won’t: The OptiMALE P-Massager doesn’t vibrate, but its shape is so well thought out that it doesn’t really need to. The tip also doesn’t have much of a taper to it, so you may need to do some extra warm up before inserting it, depending on how amenable your butt is.
The Last Word: Being able to tone your PC muscles while pleasuring your prostate sounds too good to be true, but this toy really delivers. It curves right into the prostate and can intensify your orgasms, both solo and with a partner.
Best Cheap Anal Beads: CalExotics Silicone Booty Beads
What It’ll Do For You: Anal beads give you that pleasubrable “pop-pop-popping” sensation when you insert or remove them. Many people find that it feels especially good to gently pull the beads out like a rip cord at the moment of orgasm, which is made much easier to do by the looped handle of this toy. Even beginners should be able to take these silicone beads comfortably with the help of some water-based lube, as the toy starts small and gradually reaches a manageable diameter of 1.25 inches.
What It Won’t: These beads have no bells and whistles to speak of — they don’t vibrate, they don’t curve into any particular erogenous zones and they don’t stay put as easily as butt plugs do. In fairness, that’s not their intended purpose either.
The Last Word: The CalExotics Silicone Booty Beads do exactly what they’re designed to do: Stimulate the anal opening, and the nerve endings just beyond it, with minimal effort or warm up required. They’re easy to use on yourself, or to have a partner use on you.
Best Cheap Kegel Balls: Lelo Luna Beads Noir
What It’ll Do For You: Weighted Kegel balls give your PC muscles a workout when inserted vaginally, and also feel pleasantly stimulating as they bounce around inside their casings while they’re inside of you. These balls are made of body-safe silicone and ABS plastic, and have a retrieval string that makes them easy to pull out when you’re done, even with lubey fingers. They’re a fun addition to sex, masturbation or just going about your day.
What It Won’t: Don’t expect to have instant orgasms or anything; that’s not really what this type of toy is for. Kegel balls help you exercise your pelvic muscles and provide a little titillating sensation, but they aren’t as directly pleasurable as, say, a vibrator.
The Last Word: If you’ve gotta do Kegel exercises (and, given their health and pleasure benefits, you should), you might as well do ‘em with an elegant-looking product that feels good and works well, like the Lelo Luna Beads Noir.