Sexual Health

Dildos and vibrators are not the same thing, so which one's right for you?

Sex toys come in all shapes, colours and sizes, but do you actually know their proper, individual functions?

Vibrators and dildos are the two most common types of sex toys, each with their own unique styles and uses. 

Though they share some similarities, dildos and vibrators can differ greatly, from their shape to their function. 

Here, we break down the difference between a vibrator and a dildo, and how each style of toy can be used to better serve your sex life.

What is the difference between a vibrator and a dildo?

 

What is a vibrator?

Put simply, a vibrator is any sex toy that has a vibrating function. They come in a wide variety of styles, for a variety of purposes.

While dildos are most commonly used to stimulate internal erogenous zones, a vibrator can be used internally or externally to stimulate pretty much any sensitive area.

You can have clitoral vibrators, G-spot vibrators, P-spot vibrators and vibrating cock rings, to name a few.

Like dildos, vibrators can be enjoyed by penis or vulva owners - sometimes even at the same time! Vibrators can come in a range of materials, from silicone to plastic to metal, each with an inbuilt mechanism that enables it to vibrate.

Fun fact: the first 'vibrator' was actually steam-powered. Today, this method has thankfully been ditched for a charger or batteries.

Most vibrators come with at least one speed, although any product worth its salt will offer a number of vibration speeds, strengths and patterns to spice things up.

What is a dildo?

A dildo is a phallic-shaped object used for sexual play and pleasure. It is traditionally modelled to imitate an erect penis and adopts its general shape.

(You'll quickly find most dildos are not visually identical to a penis. In fact, you can find them shaped like hands, arms, tongues, tentacles, cones you name it.)

Dildos are considered the oldest sex toys, with the earliest discovery dating back 28,000 years.

While that model was made of stone, today you can find silicone dildos, plastic, glass, latex, steel, crystal and more. Some materials are safer than others. At NORMAL, we prefer body-safe silicone.

Finally, dildos are simple objects, often with no mechanical function. They are typically intended for penetrative use and can be used by anyone who enjoys internal stimulation, whether that be solo or with others.

Now you've read the overview, let's dive into the specifics of each style.

types of sex toys

Different types of vibrators

 

Rabbit vibrator

The Rabbit is one of the OG vibrators. It first appeared in the 1980s and went on to achieve cult fame in the nineties and beyond after a guest spot on the first season of Sex and the City.

It received its name thanks to a small extension protruding from the base of the shaft, which ends in two-pronged 'ears' that resemble a rabbit's.

Targeted to people with vulvas, the Rabbit vibrator (like NORMAL's Piper) is used internally by using the phallic shaft to massage your g-spot, while the extension vibrates against your clitoris.

It's this impressive multi-tasking that continues to win fans nearly 40 years since the Rabbit's initial release.

rabbit vibrator

Wand vibrator

Like the Rabbit, the wand vibrator is a legend of the sex toy scene. It appeared on the market as a personal massager in the 1960s, although it wasn't long before folks picked up its knack for sexual stimulation.

The hand-held device features a spherical knob on the end of a long handle. For people with vaginas, the sphere can be held against the clitoris and labia for intense sexual pleasure.

Due to its high vibrational capacity, the wand comes highly recommended for vulva-owners struggling to achieve orgasm. However, folks with penises needn't miss out on the fun.

The wand can also be used to massage the perineum, or any other sensitive area. For a classic wand vibrator guaranteed to bring pleasure, you can't look past NORMAL's Charlie. 

wand vibrator

Bullet vibrator

The bullet vibrator is a compact device for those wanting a discreet, portable vibrator for on-the-go fun.

Small and slim - typically measuring under four inches in length - the bullet vibrator can be popped in your pocket or bag and taken wherever you need to go.

Due to its tiny size, these sex toys aren't really recommended for internal use. Instead, use them for focused external stimulation, for example, against the clitoral hood or perineum.

best bullet vibrator

G-spot vibrator

These vibrators consist of a rod or shaft with a slight curve designed to specifically stimulate your g-spot.

This one is for people with vulvas, where internal pleasure can be found by massaging the g-spot or A-spot in a "come hither" motion towards the belly button.

Check out our full guide to using a g-spot vibrator, and if you're looking for a recommendation, might we suggest our Darcy g-spot vibrator

g spot vibrator

Clit vibrator

These vibrators are designed to be used specifically for clitoral stimulation.

While plenty of the vibrators above can stimulate the clitoris, including internally-used dildos and vibrators (remember, the clitoris has 'arms'!), clit vibrators tend to refer to toys that focus on the clitoral hood and external parts of the clitoris.

One popular choice is a suction vibrator, like NORMAL's Quinn. The hand-held device features a small, circular opening to be positioned over the clitoral hood. It then vibrates and/or pulses air directly onto the clitoris to mimic the feeling of oral sex.

Other options for vulva and clit stimulation are palm vibrators, like the Billie, which can be used to cup or lay over the vulva for gentle stimulation.

clit sucking vibrator

Vibrating cock ring

A vibrating cock ring is typically placed around the base of the penis, to provide additional stimulation to a penis owner and possibly their partner.

Cock rings can be used solo or with a partner. If your partner is a person with a vagina, it can be positioned to stimulate their clitoris or labia during penetrative sex.

vibrating cock ring

Different types of dildos

 

Vibrating dildo

Put simply, a vibrating dildo is a dildo that vibrates. It maintains the classic phallic shape of a conventional dildo, and averages (but is not limited to!) around four to six inches in length.

Like all vibrators, a vibrating dildo will either be battery operated or rechargeable.

Vibrating dildos are perhaps best used internally to stimulate the erogenous zones of the vagina or anus. Having said that, a vibrating dildo can be just as effectively held against the clitoris or any external part of the body to reap the rewards of its vibration.

When buying a vibrating dildo, consider what you want to use it for, as different shapes and sizes can better target your g-spot, p-spot, a-spot and so forth.

Glass dildo

Some people scratch their heads as soon as they hear a sex toy is made of glass.

However, (proper) glass sex toys are made of borosilicate glass - a highly durable, non-porous and shatter-proof material.

Borosilicate glass, like other inflexible dildo materials (e.g. crystal, plastic, metal), can be better for hitting specific spots.

The other bonus of borosilicate glass is that it can be easily warmed and cooled for those who want to play with temperature or sterilise a toy in boiling water.

Crystal dildo

Crystal dildos - sometimes called healing wands - have become more popular in the 'Goop era' of wellness, with some proclaiming crystal dildos offer healing properties and more intense connection to one's sexuality.

Usually minimal in shape and appearance, they can be conical or cylindrical with a rounded tip.

However, when it comes to using any porous toy internally, cleaning sex toys properly is integral for avoiding lingering bacteria and the risk of infection.

Double-ended dildo

Double-ended dildos are intended to be used by two people simultaneously or by one person (vaginally and anally).

The shaft is long - typically between 11 and 18 inches - with symmetrical, phallic-shaped ends to be used penetratively.

Strap-on dildo

A strap-on dildo is attached to a harness at the base, which is fastened around the hips and groin of the wearer.

These sex toys enable people without penises to have hands-free, penetrative sex. A strap-on would typically be worn by a vulva-owner and used to penetrate their partner, but they're for everyone really.

Representational dildos

A representational dildo is designed to look as much like a penis as possible, often complete with testicles and textural skin features, like veins.

They come in a range of lengths and widths but always aim to look realistic.

A representational dildo is typically made from silicone or rubber for a more flexible, human-like result.

Non-representational dildos

A non-representational dildo is more sculptural and abstract in shape and appearance. In fact, they don't look like penises at all.

They can range from minimal, sleek and straight representations, to curved styles with spherical tips, bulbs and beyond.

Suction cup dildo

These dildos feature a suction cup base that adheres to surfaces, allowing an individual to enjoy it solo without using their hands. Stick it to the wall, floor or table to experiment with positions by yourself.

Suction dildos are largely used for self-pleasure although partners may like to play the voyeur.

Due to its flared base, a suction cup dildo can be ideal for those with a universal strap-on harness.

difference between a dildo and vibrator

Choosing the right sex toy for you

 

Half the fun of a fulfilling sex life is finding out what you like.

Whether you're new to sex toys, want to know more about the different sex toy sensations, or want to explore specific desires, NORMAL wants to make sure you find the right toy for you.

Take our short sex toy quiz and receive your personal sex toy recommendation.

Can't decide?

Our quick quiz wll point you in the right direction.

Take the Quiz