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What is Sensation Play?

By: Lisa Finn

Babeland: Sensation Play: Wax Play, Ice Cubes, Feather Ticklers, and More

So much of how we witness and make sense of the world is through our senses - touch, taste, smell, sound, and sight - not just one at a time, but allowing each of those elements to come together to shape our experiences. And yet, tons of folks don't really tap into all those senses during their intimate moments - IMO a huge missed opportunity, and here’s why:

Sensation play takes this idea of engaging the different senses in new or different ways to elevate the ways that we explore sexual pleasure. It's like unlocking new levels of exploration and turning up the intensity knob on our sex lives.

Sensation play is super varied, too - from incorporating some ASMR-worthy dirty talk whispered into your lover’s ear to breaking out the heavier BDSM gear for some S+M (sadomasochism play) - there’s a little something for everyone in this category.

Why try sensation play? 

Discover new erogenous zones

Sensation play allows us to incorporate the entire body, and encourages us to explore erogenous zones beyond just the genitals. If you find yourself falling into a routine or a rut, if you’re looking to spice things up, if want to experiment with sex that isn’t just penetrative (like P-in-V), or if you simply want to take the time to be more intentional with your partner in an intimate or erotic way, sensation play can open so many doors. You can even unlock a new way to reach orgasm, which is always a plus.

Heighten different types of pleasure 

Babeland: How to explore sensation play in bedEach of our senses opens up this whole world of stimulation and sensation- but they're not operating in their own little bubbles; we can actually get them all in on the action at the same time, creating this rich full-body experience. We can mix and match different types of stimulation, kind of like curating our own sensory symphony - experimenting with levels, intensity, and different combinations. From making a simple tweak to enhance a fave tried-and-true move  - for example: if there’s a certain sex act that you absolutely love that’s touch focused, try adding some taste or sound - to curating a brand new full-body experience, the possibilities are endless. 

With sensation play, you can even push your boundaries - see how far you can take the intensity with ways to play like overstimulating (like using super strong + concentrated vibration) or even playing with some pain for pleasure (like with S+M play like impact play, e-stim, hot wax, etc) while still keeping it enjoyable. 

On the flip side, you can also choose to dial it back, maybe temporarily deprive yourself of one sense (sensory deprivation) to enhance and intensify the others, or to only focus on a single sense to see how you react when that’s your only form of physical engagement during play. It's all about really diving deep into each sense and appreciating what it brings to your scenes and sex life.

Mindful way to connect with your body

Getting to know our bodies and how they react to different sensations is super important for our pleasure game - and sensation play can be perfect for building this connection, since it's all about dialing in to those senses with intention.

The more we tune in to our senses, the easier it is to clock when something's working well and really dive into those sensations, and if something's not quite doing it for us, being in tune helps us shift gears.

Babeland: How to explore sensation play in bedThis boosted awareness helps us stay mindful and stay in the moment and can even help us to reach orgasm (yes, really). When we’re able to connect with our bodies on this focused level, we’re able to disconnect from distractions - helping our minds and bodies to really experience all those feel-good sensations that can lead us to our O. Even when we’re not participating in sensation play, this mindful connection is a practice that can show in all types of ways that we have sex, experience sexual pleasure, and reach climax.


How do I explore sensation play?

Get creative with our erotic sensation play tips - we’ve got sensation play ideas and toys galore, it’s up to you to take that time with your body (and/or your partner’s body) to see what combination of sensory experience is perfect for you.

Touch:

When it comes to sex, touch doesn’t have to be limited to below-the-belt. Our entire body is covered in erogenous zones that respond to sensations in a way that can turn us on - paired with arousal and with the intent of erotic pleasure, everything from a couples massage to even the most simple forms of touch can become orgasmic. The location of touch can make an incredible difference as well - a feather-light touch against less delicate skin will feel so much more intense on more sensitive bits of the body.

There are endless opportunities for tactile stimulation:

Babeland: How to explore sensation play in bedTemperature play: Using how hot or cold something is to engage those neuroreceptors for sexual purposes is a super fun and super easy way to play with this kinky form of sensation.

Heat can be something as gentle as a warm breath over delicate skin, or bring in more intensity with hot wax play - dripping candle wax over your partner’s body to get that sting and painful pleasure from the drops hitting bare skin. If you’re not into S+M but the idea of hot wax is sexy for you, try a massage candle where the wax melt at a lower temperature and won’t give that burn sensation when poured. Just remember - these candles are built specifically for sex and erotic sensory play, while scented and decorative candles are not meant for the body and can cause injury.

Play with the cold by using a cooling lubricant or running an ice cube over erogenous zones like the nipples or clit, or drinking ice cold water right before giving some oral play. Metal and glass toys are great for this play as well, since those materials tend to hold temperature well - run your toy under some cool water before using it against the skin or inside of the body.

Babeland: How to explore sensation play in bedTextures: From a soft feather tickler being skimmed over the surface of the skin to a sharp pinwheel being scratched down your side, the wetness of a tongue lapping against bare skin, the different sensations of a soft and pliable realistic dildo versus a firm unyielding steel toy inside of the body - textures can completely change the sensation that a toy or touch can provide.

Vibration: Using a vibrator how it’s designed is a form of sensation play, but feel free to get creative and use those sensations all over the body. An external vibrator is great for clitoral play, but can also feel incredible against other erogenous zones like nipples, the tip of a penis, the inner thighs… use that sensation to explore.

Taste:

Babeland: How to explore sensation play in bedLet's talk about adding some flavor to our sexual experiences- our mouths are already major players in the game, right? From kissing to oral action, they're front and center. So, why not take it up a notch with some tasty tools? Adding flavored condoms, dental dams, or flavored lube during oral play not only amps up the sensation but also adds a delicious twist to safer sex practices - and don't forget about kissable or lickable massage oils for some touch-based fun. It's all about taking things to the next level, and this is one way to totally up giver's experience.

Don't sleep on savoring those natural tastes, too. From salty sweat to the unique flavor of your partner's arousal, embracing it all can be part of a mouth-watering sensation experience.

Sight:

Vision is one of the most direct senses connected to arousal - seeing something that turns us on or evokes erotic thoughts - it’s easy to think about all of the visual elements that can enhance a sexual experience. However, one of the most common ways to play with sight when it comes to sensation play is to take it away.

Babeland: How to explore sensation play in bedSensory deprivation is the act of taking away or restricting a sense - and in doing so, our bodies shift focus to all of our other senses, heightening them in order to compensate for what we are unable to use. Blindfolds can be an incredible tool for this type of sensation play - not only to completely change the way that our body interacts with other types of stimulation from the other senses, but to add some kinky dynamics as well, yielding control by giving up the ability to see, and elevating anticipation and even adrenaline by not knowing what’s coming next.

Smell:

Our sense of smell has the power to evoke memories, stir emotions, and transport us to different times and places. Maybe you’re doing a roleplay that takes place in the forest, and so you light a earthy-woodsy scented candle before you start to play. Possibly you’re playing solo and fantasizing about a partner, so you spritz your pillow with their signature scent. Maybe sweet smells make your mouth water in a sexy way, so you break out the dessert-scented massage oil for your foreplay.

You can also hone into scents that are happening because of your scene - the smell of your partner’s arousal, of the leather of your flogger that wafts by with every strike, the sharp salty smell of your sweat after a few rounds. 

Sound:

The sensation of erotic sound can be found in so many different ways that we play - it can be naturally occurring sounds of bodies coming together, the squeak of the bedframe, the slap of bare skin during impact play, even moans and dirty talk. 

Babeland: How to explore sensation play in bedMaking a curated playlist is another great way to incorporate sound into your play. You can use atmospheric sounds and music to set the scene for a roleplay, make a queue of songs at increasing BPM to set a pace as you go, or simply set the mood from raunchy club beats to soft and intimate love songs.

And of course, there’s always audio erotica and ASMR. Whispering, moaning, praise, degradation - whether it’s from an audio app or straight from the mouth of your partner. ASMR through the different sounds toys can make - the hum of a vibrator, the sound of a textured dildo entering and exiting the body, the different tones of slaps from the stingy and sharp sound of a rubber whip to the deep and thuddy sound of a spanking paddle.


Communication

Babeland: How to explore sensation play in bedSensory play gives us a really unique opportunity to connect with the body on so many new levels - communicate with your partner to let them know what kinds of sensations you’re enjoying, and be specific with your language.

With sensation play that incorporates S+M, those sensations can get really intense, especially if you’re playing with pain as part of the erotic experience. It’s essential to communicate through this kind of play and to set a safeword that can be called if the line gets crossed from pleasure to discomfort. More on safewords here.

Don’t be afraid to ask for something different, especially when you’re in the exploration phase - and try out different combinations on different parts of the body to see just how unique each of these experiences can be.

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