Deciding that you’re ready to purchase your first sex toy can be exciting, intimidating, and thrilling all at once. Sure, you’re ready to enter a new world full of self-pleasure, but trying to find the perfect toy for your specific sexual needs can result in some serious anxiety. The first time I was interested in buying a sex toy, I popped into a cute shop near my apartment, surveyed the array of colors, shapes, and vibrations, and ducked out without asking any questions to the sympathetic-looking store associates. I did eventually find the perfect toy for my needs, but it took time, vulnerability, and asking the right questions first. To help start your own journey, I’ve called upon Zoe Ligon, owner of the inclusive sex toy shop Spectrum Boutique, to help guide you to finding the sex toy of your dreams.

Step 1: Think about your personal sexual desires and needs

What type of stimulation are you looking for? Are you looking for girth? Intense vibration? Water-proof? Hands-free? When you start to think about your ideal toy, assess your personal desires and sexual fantasies, and what toy features or characteristics would fulfill them. “It's always good to pick a versatile toy when it's a first-time toy purchase, so if you don't like using it one way, you have another way of using it,” suggests Zoe. “For instance, if you buy a g-spot vibrator and don't enjoy it as an internal toy, you can use it as an external vibrator.” But above all, Zoe says to simply go with your gut. “I do think that the toys we naturally gravitate toward are calling to us for a reason. Just remember that it can be a trial-and-error process, and even if you don't love your first toy, you're gathering valuable intel on what to look for next time!”

Step 2: When looking for a toy that lasts, review all of the variables

A good sex toy is often considered an investment, but if you’re looking for a toy to last, the price tag will likely be worth it. “Generally with sex toys, you get what you pay for,” said Zoe. “Fun Factory, b-Vibe and Lelo are three brands with long-lasting toys, but they are also some of the more pricey sex toys.” Zoe also recommends reviewing the features on your battery operated toy and seeing how many parts make up the toy. “Battery operated toys break more easily because there are more parts that can be damaged over time. Some sex toys, like the Tenga Eggs, are designed to only be used a few times, whereas others can last you years, or in the case of the Pure Wand, a lifetime!”

However, there is only one true way to ensure your sex toy will last: purchase one with a warranty. Some toys even have their warranty extend for over a year, so you can breathe easy with the additional security.

Depending on what kind of sex toy you buy, you are also going to need some lubricant to reduce friction, ease insertion, and enhance pleasure. We recommend our our organic version, which is sex toy safe.

Step 3: Learn how to properly clean and care for your toy

We always encourage being mindful about what we put inside our bodies, and this mantra applies to sex toys as well! Keeping your toy clean and well cared for is essential in keeping your body safe, so you can enjoy your toy without worry. “I always recommend cleaning toys before and after use, before to make sure there's no dust or other things that have stuck onto it since you last used it, and after to keep your toy storage area clean,” suggested Zoe. “Warm water and an antibacterial, unscented hand soap is ideal, but beyond that it depends on the type of toy and material it is. I also just wrote a piece about this for the Spectrum Journal!

If you’re sharing your toy with a partner, we say the more than merrier— with the right safety precautions, of course. “There are many ways to safely share sex toys; you can boil non-motorized toys with materials like silicone, stainless steel, and pyrex, and that sanitizes them,” recommends Zoe. “Otherwise, you can put a condom on a toy if you want to share it. Beyond that, sometimes it is simply a matter of comfort — some people like to have their own toy that isn't shared, even if it's just for peace of mind or just to have your own special toys just for you!”

Step 4: Ask a trusted friend for their advice or recommendations

If you’re overwhelmed by too many good options, or feeling just plain stumped, reaching out to a trusted friend could help you narrow your final decision. Daisy M., a 28-year-old woman we recently interviewed about having an orgasm for the first time (with her vibrator!) said that her close friend’s suggestion ultimately led her to her beloved toy. It’s always nice to have a first-hand recommendation for a trendy restaurant or OBGYN— why not a sex toy, too?

Step 5: Put a ring on it (or whatever floats your boat) and buy your first sex toy!

Now that you’re equipped with professional guidance, advice from friends, thorough research, and an understanding of what you desire from a sex toy, you’re ready to stroll into a store (or click online) with confidence. Have fun!

Shop condoms