Sex toys have lost much of their stigma in a post-Fifty Shades world, but those on the hunt for a good vibrator or cock-ring might still have some trouble finding one at a Walmart. Thankfully, there are lots of great websites offering a wide variety of adult playthings, plus they tend to ship discreetly—not that there’s any shame in purchasing sex toys! Either way, here’s how to shop them.
Check for Toxic Materials Before (and After) You Buy
The first thing you should keep in mind when buying online is that there are certain types of material that you should avoid when buying toys that you plan on placing on or inside sensitive bodily areas. While there are plenty of online sites that run legitimate businesses, there’s not much regulation regarding what chemicals can and cannot be used in adult toys, which means even trustworthy sites can sell “novelty items” that are unhealthy for your body.
Reddit user RubyRyder has a much more thorough guide, but in brief, try to avoid PVC toys containing phthalates. Phthalates can be pretty bad for your health, particularly if used over a long period of time. In some cases you can get non-toxic plastics, but ideal options include silicone, metal or glass toys. These can be a bit more expensive, but it’s worth it over the long run.
When it comes to identifying toys of questionable toxicity, RubyRyder suggests taking into account the smell (if you’re shopping online, you should definitely double-check your items when you get them). PVC toys tend to have and keep a strong chemical smell. Translucent or see-through toys also have a higher chance to be made of unhealthy plastics.
Find Safe Online Stores
Not all online stores are created equal. Once you’ve narrowed down what you want to buy and are sure it’s made of safe, non-toxic materials, you still need to find a reputable store. Fortunately, the internet’s been around long enough for a few frontrunners to emerge as reliable, safe, and discreet. Note, all of the following sites contain very NSFW images:
- Adam and Eve – One of the biggest and most reputable online retailers, Adam and Eve has a pretty good selection of both sex toys and lingerie. Most notably, the company also has brick and mortar retail stores in 19 states in the US, one in Canada, and one in Lima, Peru.
- Babeland – Another reliable site, Babeland also has guides, tips, and educational materials so you can familiarize yourself with the types of items you’re buying, as well as general sexual health information.
- EdenFantasys – EdenFantasys is another reputable site that has an upfront promise for discreet and speedy shipping. The site also includes video reviews (not that kind) for many of its more popular products.
- Extreme Restraints – This site shares a lot of features as other sites on this list including discreet shipping and a lengthy reputation for being reliable. Where Extreme Restraints excels, however, is in the more eclectic fetish items. If you can’t find something you’re looking for on other sites on this list, this one might have you covered.
- Agent Provocateur – Agent Provocateur offers up a very high-end experience. The store is certainly not the cheapest source around (and in fact even some of the most basic toys or lingerie sets are beyond reasonably priced) but there are certainly a few items that are within the average budget. Even if you don’t buy, it’s a nice site to browse with a partner.
The list doesn’t end there, either. If you’re looking for more options, you can try checking out Pure Romance, TooTimid, Liberator, or Amazing.net. It’s also worth pointing out that Amazon has a pretty good selection of adult toys and accessories. The one downside to this (as we’ll discuss below) is that because Amazon hosts both first- and third-party sellers, it can be a little difficult to nail down their discretionary shipping policies. You might also miss out on some deals or coupons that smaller retailers tend to offer to attract customers. Not to mention you’ll end up with sex toys in your order history and suggestions, which you may prefer to avoid. That being said, for Prime users or Amazon cardholders, it might be worth it.
Identify Discreet Shipping Policies
Even the most comfortable and open-minded person probably doesn’t want to have a box with “Bob’s Funtime Sexeteria and Dildo Emporium” in big letters show up on their doorstep. Fortunately, most of the bigger stores are aware of this and offer discreet shipping.
The various stores have different approaches to this policy. Some stores like Pure Romance are as discreet as possible from beginning to end, presenting as beauty or health product stores even online. Others like Extreme Restraints may be much more blunt while you’re shopping, but still ship packages with nondescript labels. When shopping on a site, check for an FAQ page or a shipping and discretion policy page.
Once you’ve found the stated policy, it couldn’t hurt to check it against reviews or customer feedback. Amazon, for example, is usually pretty good about discreet shipping, but sometimes a buttplug or two can slip through the cracks. While these reviews can be helpful in spotting stores that don’t always live up to their policy, it also highlights a simple truth: you’re taking a risk no matter what you do. If you want to guarantee no one sees it, you can always set up a PO Box, but otherwise, you might just end up sharing slightly awkward glances with a roommate.
Then again, there are worse fates.