So You Want to Experiment with Sensations: Pain, Pleasure, and Everything In Between

Sensation play is great.  By adding and removing sensation, you can heighten your awareness and perception.  Sensation play can be a great way to connect with a partner too!  It can be a sexy, romantic way play with trust, patience, power play, and limit-pushing.  And don’t worry- it’s not all 50 Shades of Grey!  (FWIW- I think that book is atrocious.)

Not all sensation play is painful- at all.  Some people like light, gentle touches- like silky fabrics or fur.  Some like light stings, or things that have a worse bark than their bite.  There are LOTS of toys in this category!  And some people really like a nice good sting, thud, or pull.  There’s certainly a lot for that too!  With all body play, there are varying levels of risk.  I’d be an irresponsible sex blogger if I sent you out to try more intense body stuff without making sure you’re doing it safely, so promise me you’ll use your noggins.  Sterilize if there’s broken skin or blood.  Before you try anything that puts strain on breath or circulation make sure you read SM 101 or another comprehensive guide like it.
You know this, but just to refresh- for any kind of potentially physically or emotionally vulnerable play, establish a safeword beforehand.  A good, universally known system is “Yellow” for “slow this down, I’m getting near my limit” and “Red” for “stop right now.”  A good nonverbal safeword (if you’re unable to speak, e.g. with a gag) is to have something noisy to drop to the floor like keys or a mumble pattern- like an “UH-uh!” that the dominant partner will be looking out for.  Safewording is not a sign of weakness.  Rather, it is a sign that you’re in touch with your own body and psyche and are invested in having a positive experience together.  Help your top help you, and safeword as needed.

On to the fun stuff!

A great way to start with sensation play is with a blindfold.  It’s low-risk, comfortable, and easily removable.  This one is cute, comfy, and inexpensive:
A blindfold heightens your senses and builds anticipation in a way that many find erotic.  A light touch of a fingertip down the arm becomes amplified and extra ticklish.  The warmth of a partner’s body becomes more perceptible.  The slap of a crop becomes unpredictable.  This is the first toy I recommend to any friend looking to add a little pizzazz to their relationship- above any vibrators or oils or dildos.  A blindfold can do wonders.  Highly recommend.

Next up:

The Tantra Feather Teaser by LELO.

LELO is a fabulous company that makes some really great, high quality toys.  This feather toy is little- about the size of your hand- and comes in a really pretty, gift-worthy box.  (It’s also nice for storage!)  This teaser feels just lovely, especially when paired with the blindfold above.  You can also flip it over and use the cold metal ball on the other end of the handle for cool smooth contrast.  These teasers are nonthreatening and flirty.  They’re obviously not sterilizable so if you’re intending to share it between partners, steer clear of any bodily fluids.

Also from LELO is the Sensua Suede whip.

If you want to be adorable, this whip and the feather teaser make a really attractive pair.  This whip is small too- 14″ in total.  As a relatively inexperienced whip-wielder, I find it takes some pretty focused effort to get much more than a light sting out of this toy.  It’s nice on breasts, bums, and backs.  It feels fantastic slowly dragged across a nipple.  This is a great toy for someone who is new to impact play, as I think of it as one of those toys whose bark is worse that its bite.  If you want it badly enough and get in some practice, though, you can get some sting out of this one.
This next toy is a really great example of how you can use psychology to your advantage with sensation play.  This Pinwheel BDSM toy looks like a terrifying medical device.
And it is!  This tool is something doctors use to test nerve reception.  Scary as fuck, right?  We can work with that.  See, this toy only hurts as much as you want it to.  Depending on the angle of the toy, the body part, and the pressure of your hand, this little lovely thing can be anything from a light pokey tickle to a sharp sting that leaves a little pink dotted line on your skin.  It’s sterilizable too, which is nice and important as this is a scratchy/pokey toy.  I don’t know if they all do this, but my Pinwheel toy has this delightful ominous squeak when used.  I love watching a toppy partner bring this slowly to my skin, not knowing if they’ll choose to be nice or mean with it.
Getting into some more serious sensation, may I introduce the Butterfly nipple clamps:
There are gentler nipple clamps on the market for sure.  These are, in fact, some of the most painful ones I’ve ever tried- and I love them.  Butterfly clamps (sometimes called Clover clamps) have this neat mechanism wherein they tighten when pulled.  These are pretty intensely tight anyway, so when the chain connecting them gets pulled, you’ll feel a pretty intense shock of pain.  There is no way these are getting pulled off.  Personally, I LOVE nipple pain.  I’m very sensitive in some other places- like backrubs, for example.  I never imagined I would like play like this, but I tried it and found it really heightened my pleasure.  Try to keep an open mind when you’re trying new sensation play.  You might be surprised by what your body responds to!

Last but not least, one of my very favorite toys:  the Under The Bed Restraint System.

1-8-EL-0601 (1)
Being tied up is a really fun way to do sensation play.  You’re basically forced to stay still and trust your partner with your body.  It can be very intimate, and very lovely!  It can also bring up some unexpected emotional reactions, so communicate if you need anything- a drink of water, a break from a position, a check-in snuggle.  This thing is basically shaped like a capital H and goes under your mattress so that you can be strapped up with arms and legs.  It’s super simple to install (have a friend help place it while you hold the mattress up!) and tucks away discreetly between uses.  The straps are easily adjusted and the cuffs are comfy.  I did have an experience wherein I broke one of the split rings on the leg cuffs (sexy tickling when tied up = strong leg contractions!) but was able to replace it with a sturdier one from a hardware store for less than a dollar.
All for now!  All of these toys are available at your friendly (internet/)neighborhood Good Vibrations store for purchase!  Good luck, be good, and have fun!