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Kink Spotlight: Sensation Play

Arguably the most focused and subtle of all of the kinks, sensation play is kind of poorly named as one could argue that ALL kinks produce sensations. However, it is an umbrella term for a variety of activities that usually diverge from the masochistic nature of a lot of BDSM and into focused eroticism. It is also a kink that is more precise and intentional, typically using control rather than force.

We've put links in each of the photos to a non-sponsored store page that we like. There are hundreds of stores out there, but if you're specifically looking for these toys, we've made the photos clickable links to some of our preferred websites.

We tend to break it down into five broad categories based on the sensations produced rather than the tools used to produce them: Sharp, Soft, Temperature, Electricity, and a catch all of other. Also, these are often combined with a blindfold, restraints, or other accessories to have the person focus on the sensations being produced to the exclusion of all else. You can also combine these sensations, as there's nothing quite like gently peeling cooled wax off skin with a knife or pressing the side of a frozen pinwheel against someone's skin.


SHARP: One of the most iconic forms of sensation play, this encompasses a lot of different toys. These are often incredibly sharp, like a pinwheel or knife, but the goal is not to ever break the skin. Instead, it is the sensation of something incredibly sharp running over the skin that is the core of this sensation. Typical toys for this are knives, claws, pinwheels, pin hammers, a variety of pointed self defense tools, and anything else that has a sharp or pointed edge that can safely be pressed into skin.


SOFT: With the sharps comes the other side of the sensation of soft. While sharp is highly specific, this often can be quite general. Frequently used in combination with sharp toys to accentuate the difference of contrasting sensations, they can also be used in aftercare to wind down after an intense session. These sorts of toys can include feathers, leather gloves, fur or faux-fur mitts, soft massage tools, velvet toys, small pillows, plushies & stuffed animals, and other squishy or soft items. You'll find a lot of fetish people will run their hands over things when going shopping and have the thought that something innocuous would made an inventive addition to their toy bag for this category.


TEMPERATURE: Hot and cold are easy sensations to produce. Ice and hot wax are easily the most iconic of this category, but don't limit yourself to those particular sensations. One note on safety, only ever use candles designed for use on skin. Paraffin takes a long time to burn because it takes a lot of heat to melt. Also, many body safe candles use soy wax, so do your homework (or learn to make your own) for someone with a soy allergy. Also, the farther the candle is from the person's skin, the cooler the wax will be, so start off high until you get to know your temperatures. Common temperature tools are waxplay candles, massage candles (a great starter toy), ice cubes, icy water, whiskey stones, hot stone massage rocks, hot-hands & other disposable hot packs, disposable cold packs, metal & glass toys kept in either the freezer or in hot water, vibrators with a warming\heating function, and any other smooth item that can go in your freezer or be warmed up in either hot water with a short burst in the microwave.


ELECTRICAL: So, this is a toy category which can fall under sensation play, or it can be it's own thing depending on use. Toys like a violet wand generate static electricity which causes a repetitive and controllable prickling sensation. Toys like a TENS unit use low voltage power to cause muscle contractions (often used in medical rehabilitation), but these can be adjusted to have a more sharp sensation that has a more 'electric shock' feel to them. A note on safety: NEVER use more than one device like this at a time, only ever use them as described in their directions, and never use them if they've been damaged. Always remove batteries from toys between use, and use surge protectors (or even better GFCI interrupt cords as well) for plug-in toys. Electrical toys are most often violet wands, 'nova' wands (a much lower powered version of a violet wand), TENS units, and other handheld electrical 'stinger' devices that are designed specifically for human use.

OTHER: Due to the inventive nature of sensation play, there's a LOT that ends up in this category. However, we encourage you to play around with all of the senses, not just touch and pain. Using essential oils or incense to bring scent into a space is very common in massage, as is music. Erotic audio-books can certainly pain a picture as you play, but there are also whole websites dedicated to recorded dirty talk and other kinky mp3's. You can also use other sounds, and some folks argue that ASMR counts as sensation play (we don't have an opinion about it so we guess they're correct?). Whispering certainly could count, and there are people who will whisper with their lips touching the other person, generating a sensation similar to a butterfly's wings. Some folks have experimented with using chocolate, citrus, and other foodstuffs on skin or feeding small bites to their partner. Please just never mix food and genitals as that's a great way to end up in the ER with a UTI or kidney infection. Rough sensations like a scrubbing side of a sponge or exfoliating cloth can be a great way to sensitize skin. There are also warming or cooling gels that use body-safe chemicals to heighten sensation. One other thought is to use a numbing gel for a similar purpose, since a lack of sensation is, in itself, a unique sensation as well. Suction kits like cupping sets and snake-bite kits can also temporarily increase blood-flow and increase sensitivity to an area of the body. We would love to provide a list here, but it would be overly long and still not comprehensive.


Honestly, we started our kink spotlights with Sensation Play because this is such a versatile kink. You can start a session with it and use it to get someone in the mood, or use it to wind down from a scene. It's also completely able to stand alone as an entire scene and has almost limitless potential for creativity. This is the kind of kink where we find ourselves in the strangest of places looking at items and trying them out (and we don't just mean the hardware store). A lot of massage supplies combine with a lot of medical and hunting supplies to make our toy boxes an odd assortment of toys.

Certainly, combining sensation toys with blindfolds, earbuds\ear plugs, and restraints can focus the senses. So can combining multiple sensation play tools. Just remember to always play with safety in mind and informed consent.

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