At Restless, we’re all about putting your pleasure first, dismantling the stigma around masturbation and releasing ourselves from the male gaze, which is why we were so excited to discover Self & More, the UK’s biggest challenger to heteronormative, male-centred sex shops.
Self & More was founded in 2020 by activist Poppy Lepora, and offers sex toys free from gender labels, without presuming your physical ability, your sexual orientation or your experience. It’s a safe and inclusive space to explore your pleasure, on your terms.
We sat down with Poppy to find out more about Self & More, and get her expert advice on the sex toy questions you want answered.
Hey Poppy! Before we get into the questions on sex toys, tell us a little bit about Self & More. How did you get started?
I started Self & More in 2019 after feeling frustrated by the way that most stores seemed to position pleasure through the male gaze. I wanted to curate a selection of toys which were equal parts beautiful and pleasurable, and housed on a website free from unnecessary gender labels.
For me personally, discovering toys completely revolutionized the way that I experienced pleasure. Before I regularly masturbated, the partnered sex I had was fun but I rarely reached orgasm. Toys helped me figure out what my body wanted, yet buying them from the shops on offer felt seedy and confusing. With Self & More, I wanted to create a space where masturbating (and talking about masturbating) is normalized, and buying a toy feels like an expression of self-care and self-love.
I’m looking to get started with sex toys, but they all look a bit intimidating – how can I pick one that isn’t overwhelming?
There are plenty of simple toys out there that are easy for beginners to get started with.
The Gwen Vibrator by the Knude Society is an excellent first choice. It’s small, unintimidating and fits perfectly in your palm. It’s almost leaf-like in appearance and has simple controls. I often recommend it to people with vulvas who are looking for their first toy, as you can experiment with the different angles of its body to find out if you prefer broad stimulation (the flat sides) or specific stimulation (the end) and the vibrations are delightfully rumbly without being overpowering.
In general, when selecting a toy, opt for one that you find visually appealing. You’ll feel more comfortable holding it and exploring the sensations it provides if you enjoy how it looks.
Most sex toy stores (including Self & More) will also be happy to help you out with a recommendation if you drop them an email detailing what kind of stimulation you enjoy and your budget.
I can only orgasm with a vibrator! How do I fix it?
First of all – while you may feel like this is something to be ‘fixed’, you’re definitely not broken. It’s incredibly common to only orgasm with a vibrator. There is no ‘best’ way to reach climax and the orgasms achieved with a toy are just as valid as those without.
That being said – it’s also common to form habits and if you’re stimulating your body in the same way every time, you can become reliant upon that type of stimulation (in this case vibration) to orgasm. The best way to break those habits is to practice masturbation in different ways.
Vibrators are essentially a power tool that get the job done quickly and more effectively than manual stimulation. Keep in mind that reaching orgasm the old-fashioned way will likely take a lot longer than if you’re using a vibrator. Don’t go cold turkey on your vibe as this will likely lead to frustration. Instead, change one element at a time.
Practice using your hands to build up arousal and blood-flow to your genitals, try different strokes and pressures, and then switch to your vibrator for the final sprint. Next time introduce the vibrator later, with the eventual aim being to get all the way to orgasm without reaching for the vibe. You can also try masturbating in different positions and with different styles of toy (such as air-pressure suction toys) to add variety to your orgasmic repertoire.
If you can’t get there, don’t be hard on yourself – the most important thing is that you’re experiencing pleasure in whatever form it may come in.
My boyfriend wants to try pegging and I just don’t know where to start…
Congrats to your boyfriend for communicating their desires, it’s not always easy to voice your sexual-wants. Know that you’re not obliged to explore this just because they want you to, but if you enthusiastically consent to exploring pegging with them, then start by reading up on the topic. Sex Educator Lola Jean has an online video series all about pegging (the act of penetrating someone’s anus with a strap-on) which covers everything from what to expect, to practical penetration tips.
As with any kind of anal play, the essential things to remember are: continued communication throughout (‘how does this feel?’ ‘is this speed okay?’ ‘shall I fuck you harder/deeper/softer?’ and so on), to start small (fingers before toys or dicks, always) and to use LOTS of lube. Sliquid Sassy is my favourite for when toys and booties are involved.
It’s a good idea to let the person being penetrated choose the dildo so they can select a size they’re comfortable with and a style they’re excited to be penetrated by. For pegging-beginners, something smooth and slim to reduce friction is a good shout (this 5 inch model is an affordable and simple option). If you’re overwhelmed by the many options out there then the Tantus Bend Over Kit includes everything you need to get started, including a simple harness, bullet vibrator and two dildo sizes to choose from.
Wear your harness and dildo around the house to get used to how it feels. It might feel silly at first, but practicing your thrusting technique on a pillow can also help you feel prepared for the real deal.
Your partner won’t be expecting you to be a pegging-expert on your first go. Take it slowly and have fun with it together.
I’m a trans woman and it’s really hard to look at my genitals, are there any sex toys that could help me get my ‘mojo’ back?
I recommend that you explore anal stimulation and learning to find pleasure through your booty – after all, everybody has a butt.
The b-Vibe Rimming Plug provides multiple stimulation points. Vibration in the tip and rotating beads around the stem which are designed to mimic (you guessed it) rimming. It also has the added bonus of coming with a remote control so once it’s in place, you don’t have to spend time focusing on the area around your genitals.
Another recommendation is the Doxy wand. Wands are incredibly versatile toys which can be used on any external body part regardless of your gender or anatomy. Try it pressed against your genitals, perineum or even your back! They’re powerful, rumbly and can also be used over underwear or bedsheets.
Both toys mentioned also contain no gendered language in their packaging.