We tested the hottest new trend in sex toys: Warm-up vibrators
Just when pandemic-induced skin hunger seemed to be reaching a boiling point, the sextech industry has swept in with a new innovation to try to help us get through it: sex toys that warm up.
Now, warming up your sex toys isn’t an entirely new idea, per se. Temperature play is actually one of the main attractions of metal and glass toys, which you can dunk into warm water or even pop into the fridge to experiment with wild new sensorial experiences.
On the whole, though, temperature play has excluded most silicone-based pleasure devices with motors like vibrators (as opposed to just analog dildos made of more temperature-conducive materials). But 2021 saw the release of not only Lora DiCarlo’s collection of three new warm-up silicone vibrators, but also CalExotics’ Heated Ultra Soft Rabbit Vibe, and a host of others.
I got a chance to test the newly launched Sway, Tilt, and Drift, each of which comes equipped with what Lora DiCarlo calls “WarmSense™ technology” — otherwise known as an internal mechanism to quickly heat them up to 104 degrees at the press of a button.
After my near-traumatizing experience with Lora DiCarlo’s Osé, the women-led startup darling’s debut toy that launched last year (before quickly being replaced by the Osé 2 following widespread customer complaints), I was more than a little skeptical.
After that Terrible Fucking Time™ with Lora DiCarlo’s first robotics and innovation-focused pleasure device, I was ready for this more familiar-looking line of toys to either be laughably underwhelming, or to land me in the burn unit for the first-ever recorded case of pussy shishkabob. Aside from my reservations with the company itself, I’ve also tested enough expensive high-tech toys to recognize the widespread problem of marketing gimmicks being sold through the overhyped language of “revolutionary” “new” “patented” “technology.”
To my delight, though, Lora DiCarlo’s new line of heated vibrators strike a much better balance. The warming vibrators introduce technological innovation that’s not trying to reinvent a wheel that was never broken.
This WarmSense™ technology is by no means revolutionary enough to set either you or the sex toy industry ablaze with never-before-experienced sensations. For one, it only heats up to 104 degrees (for reference, CalExotics’ heated rabbit gets to 137 degrees). Since I don’t personally have a Princess and the Pea pussy, a measly six-degree difference from my own internal body temperature wasn’t noticeable enough to do much of anything for either G-spot or anal stimulation.
That being said, it was pretty wild to experience the world of difference that the heated, velvet-y soft silicone had on external clitoral stimulation.
In my first test, I used the Drift ($95), the most traditional toy in the collection. It’s a bullet-style pinpoint vibe for both external and G-spot pleasure. I tried it cold turkey, and it was nice, did its job, earning about a B or B- score. Then I pressed the button with the bacon waves, marveled at how it warmed up in my hands within seconds, and put her back to work — and it was like a whole new world of pleasure possibilities opened up before me. The “pretty nice” sensation melted into a relaxing embrace, making me question why I’d ever put cold plastic anywhere near my vagina before.
Heated sex toys can have a number of legitimately impactful applications that go far beyond a bullshit cash-grab marketing gimmick.
At the risk of giving the Drift or this WarmSense technology too much credit, though, what excited me most was the potential rather than the actual current iteration of Lora DiCarlo toys. Because, in theory, heated sex toys can have a number of legitimately impactful applications that go far beyond a bullshit cash-grab marketing gimmick.
As proven by the thermal massage guns used by athletes’ for post-workout soreness, heat can indeed relax the muscles. Despite getting little to no attention in either your anatomy or Sex Ed classes, the complex muscular systems in our erogenous zones are often secretly the key to many of the most powerful pleasure experiences.
For people with vaginas, for example, orgasms essentially amount to the pelvic floor muscles rhythmically relaxing and contracting. They’re so integral to our pleasure, in fact, that the many who develop difficulty with relaxing those muscles can develop long-term chronic pain with sex — a widespread problem that often severely impacts sexual functioning. If you find it hard to relax your pelvic floor muscles, a heated internal pleasure device could potentially, on paper, help.
Meanwhile, the most important step for exploring anal pleasure is first learning how to relax the rectal muscles. I can personally attest to how this is often a steep learning curve, since we’re unconsciously taught to keep them constantly clenched, whether to prevent an accidental fart or because of internalized homophobia that stigmatizes anal pleasure.
However, Lora DiCarlo’s current offerings are far too lukewarm to make any sort of impact on either of these internal muscular systems, and any claims otherwise are bullshit. Whatever company does manage to figure out how to harness this new warming trend to relax those muscles in our pleasure centers will indeed earn the badge of being a truly disruptive, revolutionary sex toy technology.
While still priced for luxury, the new line of toys are significantly more affordable than the Osé. They also justify their high price tags through the inventive designs alone, which offer a wide range of potential uses that make them ideal for exploration and anatomical inclusivity.
In particular, the Sway ($150) and Tilt ($140) come with dual heads that deliver on an impressive amount of applications, suitable for everything from clitoral, G-spot, P-spot (that’s the backdoor pleasure area for folks with penises), and anal stimulation. Granted, I can only speak to how well they satisfy my own anatomy, which excludes the P-spot and (to be honest) barely includes anal since none of the heads felt small enough (or heated enough) to be truly beginner-friendly.
But I can confirm that — unlike other sextech claiming inclusivity for pricey toys that in reality are just uninspired, bendy vibrating logs (looking at you, MysteryVibe) — these dual stimulators make good on their promise of diversity. In a feat of clever engineering, each head is universal enough to accommodate such a wide list of erogenous zones, without devolving into being so generalized that they fail to feel contoured to specifically pleasure either your clit, G-spot, or anus. Though, what would really push this design over the innovation edge would be a bendiness that allows you to use the two heads of the Sway simultaneously.
Outside of the innovations in Lora DiCarlo’s latest line of toys, the rest is pretty standard (which isn’t a bad thing). Personally, I prefer the Sway most, with its G-spot specific head (which the Drift lacks) sending me to the moon when used both internally and externally. If you’re unsure which would be right for you, the company does have a pretty helpful guide with side-by-side features.
The Drift offers three vibration intensities, while the Sway and Tilt offer seven for each head. Like most sex toy companies, the button design isn’t great. The intensity buttons are indistinguishable from the others so you have to look down whenever you want more power. I do appreciate the advent of a “kill switch” type button, though, which is immediately identifiable and turns everything back down to the lowest setting.
Lora DiCarlo makes a big deal out of its “patent-pending polymer” nylon material, claiming it to be different from materials used by others. It’s supposed to more closely mimic the feel of human skin, and I was pretty skeptical of that — until I felt it all warmed up against my own skin.
For years now, silicone-based high-tech vibrators have been chasing this promise of bringing you closer and closer to the white whale of the sex toy industry: pleasure devices that feel like human partners. Often, sextech innovations — from internal vibrators that simulate the “hitherto” motion of a finger to clit suckers intended to imitate a mouth during oral — sell themselves on this dream. Then there are the sex dolls attempting to achieve the level of person-to-person intimacy of partnered sex.
To some, this dream of technologically engineered human intimacy is the definition of dystopia, like something ripped straight out of Bladerunner. On the other hand, when you really think about it, is it inherently any more or less dystopian than the myriad ways technology has already impacted how we experience intimacy? A decade ago we all thought uploading the entirety of dating culture into the virtual world via algorithm-driven apps was dystopian, but now here we are, with a huge percentage of people finding their life partners through apps.
We just spent the past year learning how to satisfy nearly all of our human needs through technology. Many of us now understand the simultaneous benefits and shortcomings of Silicon Valley’s dream of merging our most personal human experiences with technology.
Similar to your Zoom dates or virtual FaceTime sexcapades, sextech’s intimacy is pretty much guaranteed to always be frustratingly imperfect. But just because these technologies need more time to work out the kinks or to fully realize their potential, that doesn’t mean they’re outright useless.
The new trend of warm-up sex toys isn’t going to light your world on fire just yet. But these early adopters might be blazing a path forward to something truly illuminating.