Done right, sex is disruptive. Whether it’s passionate, athletic, or comforting, but it’s a different place, a foreign country that feels like home. That said, like any destination, it can be a bit dull if you follow the guidebook. Deviations help. Sex restraints help.
BDSM porn (standing for bondage, discipline or domination, sadism and masochism) is one of the most popular searches on Pornhub, with BDSM-related terms making up for 1.5% of all searches. That might sound small, but given that Pornhub is the fourth most popular website in the world (ahead of even Twitter, Instagram and Amazon), 1.5% is a lot.
Search BDSM on Pornhub and you’ll notice something. Page one isn’t passable without seeing handcuffs or sex restraints in a thumbnail or two. They’re commonly assimilated as one of the best BDSM sex toys likely for that exact reason: familiarity. Sex restraints act as an introduction to a flourishing world of non-vanilla sex. They auto-implement both dominant and submissive characteristics on each partner depending on who is in control of the cuffs.
But, here’s something to remember: porn isn’t real. Porn is made solely for entertainment. That means what you’re gawking over in these videos should be seen sideways. Cuffs and restraints used in these videos might not always make sense for the average player.
“Most of the sets made for BDSM players are either cheap and poorly made, or, ‘authentic’ and therefore really heavy and uncomfortable for the wearer,” says Dr. Vanessa Carlisle, author of the sexy mystery Take Me With You, bemoaning the state of the lack of restraint shown by restraint manufacturers. “For people who are just starting out, I love a good pair of silicone cuffs.”
Silicone cuffs come without any buckles or locks, making them easy to get on and off. Like a lot of sex restraints and cheaper metal handcuffs, silicone cuffs also don’t chafe the skin. That’s perfect for beginners (who might also want to try fabric, bondage tape, or silicone easy cuffs). Tastes diverge from there. Some prefer metal. Some prefer leather.
“Padded leather cuffs with metal buckles are a standard item in any BDSM space, but they can be expensive and do require some specialized cleaning and care,” says Carlisle. “For this reason, I think of them as the next step up from an initial purchase of silicone cuffs or bondage tape.”
Shopping for sex restraints can get interesting. Given the ease of Amazon, it might be the site you find yourself on first to peep a starter selection. But, most cuffs and restraints available on Amazon aren’t necessarily the most quality-made. You’ll have better luck at sex toy sites such as Lovehoney, Adam & Eve and Bellesa which are known for selling reputable sex restraints you don’t have to worry about falling apart. These restraints will start as low as just $15.
Sex restraints and cuffs for more experienced users can be found at online retailers such as Etsy and Stockroom, two spots that offer options made for more serious play. These can cost the average buyer well over $100.
As Carlisle mentioned, where you’re at in your journey will be a deciding factor on the restraints or cuffs you should purchase.
The Best Sex Restraints at a Glance
Are handcuffs one size fits all or are there different sex restraints for different genders, sizes, etc?
Typically speaking, the majority of sex restraints and handcuffs are one size fits all. Restraints are usually made to maneuver and tie in any fashion desired, while cuffs will have varying size options built in.
What is the difference between the best handcuffs and sex restraints?
Well, the best handcuffs might get you out of a sticky situation with the law, while the best sex restraints might get you INTO a sticky situation with your partner. Both are designed to restrict a person’s movement during sexual activity, but handcuffs have the ability to actually “cuff” and close. Sex restraints don’t necessarily have to close, instead, they’ll likely tie.
Why do some people prefer metal handcuffs? Is that a specific kink? Seems uncomfortable?
In the beginning, it’s important that you avoid metal handcuffs. You know that one year you were a prisoner for Halloween as a child? Well, it seems that the “best” handcuffs for starting out mimic the pair you got at Party City all those years ago. Typically, they’re cheaply made. Also, Carlisle mentions that well-made metal cuffs are primarily designed for a specific kink. Said kink will vary from person to person, but the kink will likely have to do with an element of pain due to chafing, position and cuff weight.
Should I swallow the key?
Quickie Cuffs Super-Strong Medium Silicone Restraints
“In general, less experienced players should start with restraint systems that are more flexible or pliable (such as fabric, bondage tape, or silicone easy cuffs), and are easy to take on and off,” Carlisle mentions. That’s why Quickie Cuffs’ Super-Strong Medium Silicone Restraints are a top choice for those looking for a top-notch sex restraint.
Because these are made from super-strong, flexible silicone, these cuffs are not just durable, but super comfortable to wear. They’re designed to be easy to use, without any fiddly buckles or straps to worry about. Stretch them over your wrists or ankles (if you’re feeling frisky) and you’re good to go for a sexy bedroom sesh. They also have a clever locking mechanism that can be quickly released if needed, making them a safe and reliable option for bondage play.
In addition to their practical features, Quickie Cuffs Super-Strong Medium Silicone Restraints also have a sleek and sexy design that looks great in the bedroom. The black silicone material adds a touch of mystery and sophistication, and the lack of metal parts means they’re easy to get through TSA without any awkward questions. What more could you ask for? Those beginning their journey with the best handcuffs and sex restraints, look no further than a silicone pair like these Quickie Cuffs from Lovehoney to get started.
Lovehoney Oh! Silky Bondage Restraints
Why It Stands Out: Not everyone interested in non-metal restraints will go for silicone above all other options. Because texture is huge in the world of BDSM, you’ll find lots of beginners vibing more toward silk than silicone. These don’t chafe as much as other textures, either.
Made For: These bondage restraints are perfect for any kind of person in their sex restraint journey, but offer a non-fussy way to get started in heat-of-the-moment fun.
Can You Get Out?: While these have the ability to effectively restrain arms or ankles for classic sex restraint fun, this option does not come with any need-to-learn locking system. Simply untie when you’re done playing.
Hot Take: Silk is simply one of the sexiest materials out there. The smooth and soft texture of silk against the skin can be incredibly arousing and pleasurable, even if you don’t have a silk-related kink. Who knows? Maybe you’ll leave your first experience using these as the texture’s number one fan.
Tether Skin-Friendly Bondage Tape
Why It Stands Out: Tape is a material those in the world of BDSM seem to forget about. Carlisle recommends a fun way to start using sex restraints is by purchasing bondage tape. “It sticks to itself without tearing out hair or harming skin, and can be fun to use when securing a person to something else, like a bedpost or chair,” they tell SPY.
Made For: This is a solid option for any restraint user, but specifically, Tether makes an excellent restraint for those just starting out due to how easy it is to use.
Can You Get Out?: Yes, you can quite easily. Tether will keep arms or ankles “tethered” for as long as you want, but getting out in a jiffy (if needed) is as easy as cutting tape.
Hot Take: Just keep a pair of safety scissors nearby for all of those “just in case” moments.
DOMINIX Deluxe Leather Wrist Cuffs
Why It Stands Out: A step up in the world of sex restraints can be found in a pair of leather handcuffs, which is why these DOMINIX cuffs are considered an intermediate option. “Padded leather cuffs with metal buckles are a standard item in any BDSM space, but they can be expensive and do require some specialized cleaning and care,” Carlisle mentions.
Made For: These are designed for folks that have already spent some time practicing with materials like silicone and silk. They’re ideal for metal-seekers that want the material without the chafe. Also, given Carlisle’s claims on cleanliness, users will have to put a little more work into keeping these cuffs ready for sex.
Can You Get Out?: Although these cuffs are designed to be secure and reliable during bondage play, they can also be removed easily with the included quick-release clips.
Hot Take: While you won’t be able to play cops and robbers just as well as you might with a full-metal set, these are a solid option to safely step up in the world of sex restraints.
Bondage Boutique Soft Cuff Hogtie
Why It Stands Out: Well, this is a hogtie. Wearers will be bound by both their wrists and ankles while wearing these. All other options before this simply hold one set or the other down. Essentially, these are a lot spicier (and more restrictive) than anything mentioned so far.
Made For: This hogtie is for total dom and sub play. Although they are not made with materials that will cause the sub pain, the position might be a little uncomfortable while wearing. Each cuff is made with a soft-to-the-touch material that will hold your sub in place without any added chafe.
Can You Get Out?: Not on your own, no. This hogtie uses velcros and straps to keep subs tied up in the hogtie position for as long as the dom wants.
Hot Take: These can actually be worn in the front or the back depending on how both partners want to keep the sub restrained. With two options available, folks can play around with new heightened sexual experiences each time these are worn.
Under The Bed Restraint System
Why It Stands Out: Like the hogtie, there’s something a little visually different about these restraints: they hook to the underside of the mattress for ultra-restrictive fun. While it works ideally for spread eagle, wearers can maneuver themselves in a number of different positions for an enticing new way to play each time these restraints are involved in sexual activity.
Made For: While these are not uncomfortable to wear, they are very restrictive. Wearers will virtually be unable to move when these are on, essentially pinning them down to the bed without any way of getting out.
Can You Get Out?: No, not without help. The body will be stuck in whichever position chosen until someone unstraps the wearer.
Hot Take: This option keeps wearers pinned in a specific spot without mobility whatsoever. Not only will this set have your sub begging for more, but also begging to be released so that they can go to the bathroom. Tip: get these for 45% off when using code TAKE45 at checkout.
VIPERTEK Professional Grade Handcuffs
Why It Stands Out: Though we would normally not suggest purchasing sex restraints or handcuffs on Amazon, this is a superior pair from the enormous retailer we definitely recommend. These are quite literally police grade. Yeah, like, made for police officers. They aren’t necessarily designed for sex, but a quick read of most Amazon reviews will have one believing otherwise.
Made For: These are designed for folks that actually need to use handcuffs for their profession. While they might not specifically be made for sexual activity, a number of people use these for sex. That said, only experts should be using these.
Can You Get Out?: No. You will not be able to get out of these without a key. These are impeccably heavy-duty.
Hot Take: Essentially, these are the most legit handcuffs you can purchase on the internet for an affordable price. They have a double locking system that will keep any naughty sub in place for as long as a dom likes. That said, it’s important to be incredibly careful with these.
Penny’s Secrets Ultra Heavy Handcuffs
Why It Stands Out: Visually speaking, these are massive, weighing in at 11 lbs with a 2cm thick polished AISI 304 stainless steel design. Heavy metal lovers, gather around — and we’re not talking about the kind of people that like the music.
Made For: These surpass a desire for metal handcuffs. Because these will weigh someone down tremendously, weight play is also involved with these cuffs. Experts that know what they’re doing to the front of the line, please!
Can You Get Out?: Good luck.
Hot Take: These are the heaviest handcuffs you can purchase online. Try finding anything weighing more than these. We dare you.
The Stockroom Padded Suspension Cuffs
Why It Stands Out: Why do these cuffs stand out? Well, because you won’t be able to stand up with two feet on the ground. These padded suspension cuffs are designed specifically for hanging your partner from the ceiling.
Made For: Experts. No way around it. If you are just getting into cuff and restraint play, don’t even bother.
Can You Get Out?: No. Wearers will be hanging from the ceiling. Like the others, wearers will not be able to get out without help.
Hot Take: Suspended play makes for tons of fun, but these can get incredibly dangerous. Make sure you know what you’re getting into.
A Final Thought On Safety
We can’t express enough just how important it is to keep a sharp mind when using sex restraints and handcuffs. Here are just a few points to go forward with before getting in on the fun:
- Consent is mandatory. Create a safeword with your partner before utilizing sex restraints and handcuffs.
- Do not skip steps and go straight into expert-level restraints and cuffs. These can be incredibly dangerous to use without proper practice.
- Do not use sex restraints or handcuffs with someone you are meeting for the first time. Sure, it’s 2023. People hook up with strangers. Just do not use restrictive aids when hooking up with strangers. Make sure it is someone you trust.
- Skip the fuzzy cuffs. These are made for bachelor parties, not sex.
- Don’t feel forced to enjoy sex restraints and handcuffs. Handcuffs and sex restraints are not designed to be enjoyed by everyone. If you decide you’re not into handcuffs or sex restraints but are still interested in BDSM play, check out other toys here.