Ramble On – Amazon Sex Toys & 5 Beginner Butt Plugs
It started innocently enough. Well, as innocently as a conversation about butt plugs could.
Someone I follow tweeted that they were in search of a first butt plug – so they could size up and enjoy a fancier one they’d set their sights on. As usual, mention of sex toys and recommendations is like the fucking Bat-signal to me – so I hopped in.
And then, I saw the other replies. Multiple people suggesting Amazon because it’s “cheap” – mostly recommending that certain style of metal, bejeweled plugs. Even in the midst of writing this piece – I saw a Facebook friend ask for toy recommendations – and half of the comments mentioned Amazon! Let’s have a talk: fuck no, dude. I know in my sex toy safety shopping guide I went on about my distaste for Amazon briefly – but disregarding any negative feelings we might have about the site itself or Jeff Bezos, lemme dig into the issue with buying Amazon toys for a second. (All of this applies to sites like eBay, Wish & AliExpress as well. I just know so many people always check Amazon first.)
Note: This post uses affiliate links – meaning I earn a commission on items purchased through links provided on my website with no added cost to you. I am not paid for mentioning them and as always, my opinions are my own.
See this article put together by Dangerous Lilly in 2014? It’s still incredibly relevant. Using Amazon – you run the risk of buying counterfeit toys, never mind the fact that things priced that low are typically too good to be true as far as materials & quality go. Even more terrifying is the theory of someone returning an item that was used, or defective – and it being sent out again. (Not saying that I have any statistics on that – but it’s definitely spooky & has happened!)
Even just from personal experience – I’ve bought counterfeit toys before. More than once! The first offender was a counterfeit Magic Wand. (They’re so commonly bootlegged that Vibratex has an entire page on their site dedicated to spotting them!) Lasted less than a year. & As someone that loves glass – I’ve had a handful of unsafe, cheap, Amazon glass toys too. I see the Icicles tentacle dildo ripped off frequently – my fake was around $20 & came in unbranded packaging. It also met its untimely demise from being dropped once – y’know, something that I’ve done to my “nicer” name-brand glass that hasn’t caused cracks or breakage. (I don’t suggest dropping glass toys for the hell of it, but shit happens.)
Another time, I ordered a friend a toy from an Amazon listing that appeared to be the same as one of my favorites. What arrived? Well, a completely different toy than what was advertised – that was fun. (Not.) The risk & shit-odds involved are enough to put me off Amazon toys completely.
I know, having Prime shipping can be awesome – but most reliable sex toy stores are just as quick. Earlier this month, I received my SheVibe order about two business days after the order had been placed – on the “free shipping” level, in the middle of a pandemic. (Their “free shipping” is Priority 2-Day!) Why are we using Amazon, again? Oh yeah, “discreet” shipping. You know who does that? Literally any reputable online sex toy store. I’d be hard pressed to find one that doesn’t ship discreetly – even the names on your credit card statement from most stores don’t scream “HEY, YOU BOUGHT SEX TOYS!”. And here we are….still using Amazon, still recommending Amazon sex toys to our friends. Fucking….why?
Why? Well, I’m sure some of it’s tied to the appeal of cheap white-label sex toys. Even if you’re not ordering a “brand name” toy and running the risk of a counterfeit – in the past year or so I’ve seen more and more Buzzfeed articles, Twitter threads, and “funny viral reviews” pointing towards white-label Amazon brands. (What’s a white label brand? Think “generic item that can be repackaged for different companies.)
Let’s dig into the issue with white-label Amazon sex toy brands, real quick.
- Mislabeled materials & dishonest descriptions!
This is a huge one. Again, another awesome Dangerous Lilly post about getting these types of things investigated by Amazon. Tracy’s Dog
(barf) is a brand I see in viral posts about “tHe BeSt ViBraToR oN AmAzON!!!” and oops, it’s something else Lilly has investigated. From language barriers, to straight up lying – mislabeled materials in the context of Amazon sex toys in a huge deal. Silica gel! “Silicon”! Made up names for TPE/TPR! I could go on.
But I hear you – “Kitty, I know how to shop for safe sex toys – I know what materials are good, and if all else fails I know how to test them.” I don’t care. You shouldn’t have to even worry about that. If you’re buying silicone, you shouldn’t have to play mad scientist at home to make sure it’s actually what it was labeled as. Buying from reputable sellers prevents that from even becoming an issue.
- Another point about honesty, in the context of reviews.
Ah yes, if fifteen thousand people have said this is a great toy – they can’t be wrong! Y’all realize a ton of people linking Amazon sex toys & the articles they’re featured in are also using affiliate links, right? Affiliate links on their own aren’t a bad thing – I use them frequently, and in this post! But nondisclosure is a bad thing. (Buzzfeeed typically says they’re using sponsored links – thankfully, but plenty of people don’t.)
You know what else isn’t a bad thing? Reviews. I feel like in the past ten years alone, we as people – fucking love reviews. I’m sitting right here! Reviewing things! Would you rather blindly make a purchase, or see that people with your preferences and needs had something to say about an item? Yeah, thought so. Reviews are great! When they’re honest. You know what’s not so great? Again, nondisclosure – and dishonesty. There are oodles upon oodles of these Amazon-only sex toy sellers, and you know what they have a habit of doing?
Offering vouchers, payment/refunds, and free toys to any random off of the street. This isn’t to say that anyone can’t be a sex toy reviewer (the more the merrier, honestly!) but when you receive a message saying “If you leave us a 5 star review on Amazon you’ll receive a free toy!” every time you mention the phrase “sex toy” on Twitter it starts to get a little fishy.
I’ve actually had a few of these brands reach out to me – and the standard system seems to be vouchers & refunds in return for reviews. Only once in an interaction with an Amazon white label company did the word “honest” come up. (I’ll be mentioning that in another piece soon, look out!) A few times I’ve even said things along the lines of “Thanks for contacting me, I run a review blog, and if your item deserves a 5-star review, I’ll give it one. I’m not going to lie in return for a free product, though.” and never heard back from said company as far as if they still wanted me to review an item or not. Yeah, that’s kind of a red flag – buddy.
And if these companies aren’t bringing it up with customers that they have to disclose that they received an item in return for a review – how often do you see it mentioned? Yeah. Not often. Think about it. (I’m sure there are honest reviews, and honest buyers – and that’s great! But the whole system seems a bit skewed to me.) I get it, sex toys can be pretty pricey. I’ve used Amazon for sex toys in the past, I get it.
(I could probably write my own nightmare piece off of that topic, honestly.)
Also worth noting is that with the “fluffed up” review system – these listings end up pushed to the top of “best sellers” and “best rated” pages, whether they’re genuinely good & safe or not.
Luckily – there’s more affordable body-safe options from reputable brands and websites available now than there ever have been! Using Amazon or Wish for sex toys just doesn’t add up to me anymore, even from a price standpoint. Also, there’s oodles of sex toy reviewers online, between blogs and Twitter – you can usually find a review or two outside of Amazon for whatever you’re looking for. Anyways.
This post was originally about butt-plugs, wasn’t it?
Yeah, it was. More specifically the bejeweled type. Let’s talk about “princess plugs” for a second. You know, the sparkly, cute, under-$10-buttplugs that are super popular in online superstores & OnlyFans threads, and made me want to write about this in the first place.
They’re cute! They can be really cheap! What’s not to love? Well…right off the bat, the “stainless steel” plugs frequently sold on Amazon are typically metal alloy with a cheap chrome plating on top. Stainless steel is a great sex toy material, but there’s no way in hell you’ll find a legitimate steel plug for $8. (Unless someone is running some absolutely obscene clearance promotion.) Aluminum toys are also body-safe, and can be a bit less expensive. But what’s so wrong with chrome plating? It’s just a buttplug! It’s cute!
It chips. Even in the “best of circumstances”. Even if you’re me, someone who takes meticulous care of their sex toys. I’ll admit it flat out: I’ve owned three different “princess plug” sets from various Amazon sellers.
(They were all gifted, but that’s beside the point.) You know what’s fucking horrifying, and hurts like a bitch? Metal flaking off in your ass. Or the resulting roughness from unnoticed flaking the next time you use them. (In general once a sex toy starts breaking, you need to ditch it. Period. But with some of the chrome plated plugs it can be hard to tell, until it’s too late and you’re literally feeling it.) If you want to claim “Oh I’ll throw it out once that starts happening!” I’d love to ask: why are you willingly buying something made from a dodgy material?
I’m also not a fan of
(or comfortable suggesting) “cheap” jeweled plugs because often the “flare” isn’t very large or sturdy. One of the best things about metal? It’s slippery. But it can also be its downfall – particularly if the base of the plug isn’t wide enough to keep it from going “all the way” in. Most “nicer” princess plugs I’ve seen have slightly wider & thicker bases than the generic $12 metal alloy sets do, so save yourself the terror. (Want a horror story about getting a cheap one stuck up there? Click here.)
(If you love the look of metal plugs – actual stainless steel options do exist, but they can be a bit spendy. Regardless, your sexual health & safety is worth it!)
I get why “princess plugs” are popular – they’re cute and they typically make anal toys seem a little bit less intimidating. I see them recommended a lot as “beginner” plugs, cuz if you’re a beginner you’re probably not looking to drop $40 on a single plug – but that’s where those cheap Amazon sets come in. “Beginner” shouldn’t have to mean low quality, beginner shouldn’t mean “potentially dangerous”.
If you’re a beginner, you want to experiment, you’re on a budget, and you want something cute – what are your options?
If you want something cute:
If you’re hellbent on having an inexpensive princess plug set, the Temptasia bling plugs are your best bet under $40. Betty’s Toy Box sells the white ones in a kit alongside 2oz of Sliquid Sassy (my favorite lube for butt stuff) and toy cleaner – but you can buy just the plugs in rainbow, red, and white. I’m a huge fan of Blush’s silicone & the fact that they make such a huge range of body-safe toys without costing an arm and a leg. (You can also buy each of these plugs alone without committing to a set!)
Of course – they’re silicone so in theory you could boil them to sanitize after use – but because of the adhesive holding in the gem that’s a no-go. The best way to clean the Temptasia plugs would be rinsing the lube off, then dunking them in a 10% bleach solution for 5-10 minutes & washing with soap and hot water afterwards. (Like any sort of seam, the crevices around the gem could hide some serious gunk.)
$39 a bit rich for your blood? Check out the Cloud 9 Gems – clocking in under $25. (However, I can’t vouch for their silicone quality like I can for Blush.) Like purple and don’t mind gender-specific marketing? This “Fantasy For Her” plug set could be right up your alley. ($29 at time of writing – again, I can’t vouch for the silicone here.)
Stuck on the idea of metal plugs but on a budget?
Check out the Booty Sparks heart gem plug set. They’re aluminum, making them body-safe but a bit lighter than steel. They only come in pink – but hey, we’re looking for safe and affordable so I’m not too bothered by that.
If you’re more interested in the “weight” of metal and don’t care so much for the rhinestones, glass plugs could be right up your alley. (Crystal Delights are incredible but can get pricey, they even make a Hello Kitty plug! Personally, I’m partial to Pipedream’s Icicle line.)
What about something affordable to test the waters with?
On the more bare-bones side of plug kits, if you want function over fashion – you’ve got the “Luxe Beginner” 3 Plug Set. (Also by Blush)
Again, I just love their silicone. (This set also comes in black or pink!) A bit smaller than the Temptasia plugs, the “large” in this set is only 1.25” wide. (A little smaller than the medium in the Temptasia set.) Of course, they’re wildly different shapes – these are tapered and thin. The base has a big enough flare, and there’s enough “squish” for the plugs to be worn for a decent amount of time without digging into your buttcheeks.
There’s no bells and whistles, so you can sanitize them any way you’d like. (Which I highly recommend, soap and water doesn’t always kill the lingering funk.)
Looking for comfort?
Sure, silicone plugs tend to be more comfortable for long term in general because they’re softer than metal or glass – but what if it’s the shape you’re bothered by? The comfiest base “shape” for me are anchor plugs. Nonintrusive! Easy to grip onto! Won’t show through a pair of leggings! Blush’s “Anal Adventures” line has anchor-based plugs in fives different shapes – the curve, the wave, stacked, and even two different beaded styles. (One with graduated sizes, and more traditional “bead string” – respectively.)
I wish Blush made a straight up anchor set in more “standard” shapes. (Though they do have two styles with tapered shapes.) Doc Johnson’s “Mood Naughty” plugs have the same anchor base, but they’ve been out of stock on SheVibe for a while so I’m not sure if maybe they’ve been discontinued as a set. Luckily, you can check out the range & buy each size separately here.
Want to experiment with texture?
I know I just listed some textured options – but some not-quite-plugs that are worth a mention are these trainers from Satisfyer! (Which come in black and pink) The title can’t seem to make up their mind on whether they’re trainers or plugs – but I’m calling them trainers because you really shouldn’t be sitting down on those rings. If you’re wanting to try out texture without having to buy multiple, full sized anal toys – these “trainers” are almost like “trial size” versions of beads & swirls. (In three different sizes) Narrow tips, soft (sanitizable!) silicone, and under $20.
Bottom line: Fuck Amazon. I know this is something I could talk about even more at length, but I hope y’all got the point. (Congratulations if you made it this far, sorry this ones a bit sideways – there’s a lot of ground to cover!) There’s nothing that says “inexpensive” and “body-safe” are mutually exclusive! You shouldn’t have to choose between something you can afford, something “cute”, or something that won’t harm your body. (If you’re looking to save even more – if you use any of my Betty’s Toy Box links, you get a 10% off coupon for signing up for their mailing list! Canadian friends can check out their sister site – Naughty North!)
As always, here’s where I beg for your feedback! What do you think? Are “princess plugs” cute as hell? Is safety or prince-point higher on your priorities? Do you have any stories about buying toys on Amazon? Lemme know in the comments, and I’ll catch y’all next time.