Curious about spicing things up in the bedroom with a little consensual restraint play? A pair of sexual handcuffs can "unlock" a whole new side of things for you and your partner—just as long as you have the right ones. Just ask Carol Queen, PhD, a sexologist and historian of the sex toy and accessory brand, Good Vibes, who confirms that oftentimes, bondage restraints with a pair of sexy handcuffs is steamy. "Doing bondage automatically adds the intrigue of power exchange roles [as well as] the thrill of dominance and submission," she says. Plus, aside from fastening the BDSM cuffs, you don't have to do anything else differently. “Have sex just like usual, but incorporate restraints. [It] just changes how exciting it can be.”
"Doing bondage automatically adds the intrigue of power exchange roles [as well as] the thrill of dominance and submission," she says. Plus, aside from fastening the cuffs, you don't have to do anything else differently. “Have sex just like usual, but incorporate restraints. [It] just changes how exciting it can be.”
Now, Queen says there's a caveat: consensual restraint needs to happen with the right handcuffs, those specifically designed for safe, pain-free restraint. The ones law enforcement uses? A big no-no. “They…are easy to use incorrectly and thereby cause damage," Queen says. For that reason, she strictly recommends handcuffs that are made of leather, faux leather, or fabric. “These won't do the kind of nerve damage that can happen if something goes wrong with handcuffs,” she adds.
- Carol Queen, PhD, sexologist at Good Vibrations
Keep reading for a list of the nine best handcuffs for sex as well as Dr. Queen’s three cuffing tips for BDSM beginners.
10 best handcuffs for sex, for BDSM beginners and pros
After getting these super-soft adjustable handcuffs in a press mailer, I finally used them a couple of weeks back—and let me tell you: It was super hot. They’re aesthetically pleasing since they have lace on the outside, but they’re also comfortable to wear because the inside is lined with faux fur. To put them on, you adjust them with the 5-hole buckle, making sure they’re tight enough not to fall off, but not too tight to risk injury. These cuffs only fit wrists up to eight inches in circumference, though.
Perhaps my only complaint is that they’re a bit hard to fasten because the cuff has to be perfectly aligned with the buckle. Once you get them on, though, they stay through even the more acrobatic positions. As far as getting out of their restraint? That part is pretty simple, too, since they have a quick-release chain that keeps you in that hold.
Materials: Faux fur
Cuff length: Not listed
- They feature a gorgeous lace design.
- The insides are lined with faux fur for extra comfort.
- They’re adjustable.
- They’re a little hard to put on.
Made out of vegan leather, this option is great for folks who’d like to be a bit more environmentally conscious. These handcuffs are thinner than the rest, which makes them double as a fashionable, low-key bracelet outside of the bedroom. They’re adjustable by way of a buckle and they feature a chain to give the authentic cuffing feel.
Because these cuffs are made of supple vegan leather material, they offer a better fit for the body. Additionally, the metal used for these cuffs is nickel-free, so they can be used by anyone who may have an allergy to that substance. Bijoux Indiscrets’ Maze Thin Cuffs fit wrists with a circumference between 7.48 and 9.84 inches.
Materials: Vegan leather
Cuff length: 7.48-9.84 inches
- They’re constructed from vegan leather.
- They moonlight as a stylish bracelet outside of the bedroom.
- They feature an adjustable design.
- The thin style might not be ideal for everyone.
“The Isla Cuffs are great because the vegan leather is appropriate for anyone,” says Queen. “They’re also nice and wide, which distributes pressure evenly over a larger area—making it safer than a thinner set of cuffs.” These turquoise cuffs are made of polyester, iron, zinc alloy, and polyurethane, and they also have a soft, fuzzy interior. “The faux fur padding [on the inside] adds to the safety and comfort profile,” Queen says. An added bonus of the fur? It might be less intimidating for some than the straight-up leather—vegan or not—and they’re ultimately just as durable.
The cuffs themselves feature a buckle for fastening and are two inches thick and nine inches long, meaning they’ll fit most wrist sizes. Additionally, the Isla Cuffs come with a chain connector. Since that is removable, though, you can also use these cuffs with other tethers, like spreader bars—which are designed to keep the bondagee’s arms above their heads, usually about 20 inches apart. According to the product page, these handcuffs are “perfect for all BDSM levels.”
Cuff length: 9 inches
- The cuffs have a wide, 2-inch design.
- The interior is soft and fuzzy for added comfort.
- They come with a chain connector.
- They only come in teal blue.
Is it a handcuff? Or is it a fashionable bangle you can wear out to brunch? It’s both, actually, thanks to Unbound’s trendy and thoughtful design that goes well beyond the bedroom. Come playtime, slip them over you or your partner’s wrists—the adjustable metal loops are easy to make bigger or smaller, and provide light restraint when they’re on. Or slide them both onto one wrist for a cool bangle—no one will spot the difference. Both are made from stainless steel but the gold is plated with 18K gold. Fancy!
Materials: Stainless steel, 18K gold
Cuff length: 7.1 inches
- They double as a stylish bracelet set.
- The metal hoops are adjustable.
- They’re plated in 18K gold.
- The metal material might not feel as comfortable as other options on our list.
If you’re already privy to the benefits that silk can have on your skin and hair (like reducing blemishes and frizz), then you might not need much convincing to purchase these silk restraints. Dubbed by Sade Fantasy as a “beginner restraint set,” this option comes with two sashes featuring a loop, which makes for easy fastening, as well as a straight sash in case you want your partner’s arms to be more outstretched—or perhaps use it as a blindfold. These silk restraints might also be less intimidating for beginners while still providing a boost of excitement. The looped sashes and the straight sash are both 2.5″x3.5″. Plus you’ll get a matching satin bag to easily and discreetly store your new toy.
Materials: Charmeuse silk
Cuff length: 2.5×3.5 inches
- They’re beginner-friendly.
- They’re made from high-quality charmeuse silk.
- They have a loop for easy fastening.
- They don’t come in additional colors.
Part of BDSM practices when it comes to handcuffs is something called hog-tying, which is when you join someone’s wrists and ankles behind their back. Admittedly, this might be a more advanced style of play, so make sure it’s something you really want to do before diving in. If it is, though, here are more specs on this option: It has a slip-on design, versus a buckle like the other options. Since it comes pre-tried, there’s no need for users to have any extensive knotting knowledge.
This truly is a multi-functional piece of rope. And because these cuffs are made of rope, you can fully control how much you adjust them around the wrists or ankles. To do this, Doc Johnson recommends either, “tying a simple knot in the center before looping the cuffs through the hardware, or looping one potion of rope through both portions of the hardware at either end.” The best part? Since there’s no metal in these cuffs, they’re waterproof and completely submersible, which provides another level of eroticism to your bondage play.
Cuff length: 63 inches
- They feature a slip-on design.
- They come pre-knotted.
- They’re completely adjustable.
- They might be a little too advanced for some.
What would a good “best-of” handcuffs be without a furry option? Though these pink puppies are made of metal, they’re not uncomfortable—thanks to the generous faux fur that covers the wrist. Speaking of the faux fux, it actually comes in a cover, which is removable in case you want to wash it—or in case you want to feel the full metal fantasy.
Like the Isla Cuffs and silky options, this might be a less intimidating option for people who might not be ready (or into) the leather and studs. While these cuffs are locking (two keys come included, just in case!), there’s also a quick-release lever on each cuff, so the person in the cuffs can use their thumbs to unrestraint themselves if they so choose.
Materials: Metal, faux fur
Cuff length: 11 inches
- They’re made of metal but still comfortable.
- You can wash the pink fur covers.
- They have a quick-release lever.
- The lock and key mechanism might not be for everyone.
If you’re looking for a silky-soft option, but don’t want to break the bank, allow me to introduce you to Lovehoney’s bondage restraints. They’re soft and affordable for the same reason: because they’re made out of satin. Like their more expensive counterparts, these restraints are pre-looped, so you can slide your hand right in instead of fastening the cuff.
They’re 49.5-inches long, allowing you to tie your partner up as close or far apart as you wish. It’s pretty simple to restrain them, says a reviewer from Lovehoney’s website: “A very easy-to-use set of restraints for use, with or without something to tie them to. Very compact and easy-to-store…” They did, however, also note that the product will fray over time, though it’ll remain functional, and that you need at least a little knowledge of knotting to ensure they don’t come undone.
Cuff length: 49 inches
- They’re budget-friendly.
- They’re made out of soft satin.
- They’re easy to use and beginner-friendly.
- They aren’t a cuff style, which some might prefer.
This three-piece set, as you might have guessed from its moniker, comes with two cuffs (which you can use on wrists or ankles) in addition to a soft satin blindfold. “These versatile restraints can be clipped to each other for traditional cuff binding, used with other sets for hog-tying, or separated and attached to accessories,” like an adjustable spreader bar, says the product page.
“Though these cuffs don’t have fur interiors, they are thick, wide, and padded, which is a good thing for safety and comfort design,” says Queen. “They’re also good-looking with their gold-tone hardware, and the included blindfold is a fantastic addition to bondage play—restricting vision, as well as motion.” This, Queen adds, makes the stakes a little higher and can increase the sensuality of touch since your sight will be limited.
Materials: Polyester, elastane
Cuff length: 10 inches
- They come with a blindfold for added play.
- They’re super versatile.
- The cuffs are thick and padded for extra comfort.
- The blindfold might be too advanced for some preferences.
“I really like the Kink Silicone Wrist Cuffs,” says Queen. “They’re quite wide, are very cool-looking…and they’ll be a great choice both for those with sensitivities, [like allergies].” Since these cuffs are made of water-resistant and flexible silicone, they’re also great “for play in wet environments, like the shower,” Queen adds. She’s quick to caveat that these are locking cuffs, which means that the buckle is secured by a lock. (As such, she says this “is an option many more advanced players will especially appreciate.”)
The only silicone option of the bunch, Kink’s wrist cuffs also come equipped with three keys for said locks as well as two padlocks. There’s only one for each cuff, so be mindful not to lose these! Moving on: The metal used in this product is nickel-free, so it truly earns the title of hypoallergenic. You’ll find the substitute in the built-in clips, which also make these cuffs easy to attach to other BDSM accessories.
Cuff length: 11 inches
- They’re comfortable enough for those with sensitive skin.
- The silicone is easy to wash.
- They easily attach to other BDSM accessories.
- They only come with one key per cuff.
A sexologist’s 3 cuffing tips for BDSM beginners
1. Consider what your ideal cuff would do and look like
Think about what kind of style you want and the types of play want to explore in the handcuffs: Do you want to be tied to the bedframe? Do you just want your hands restrained behind your back? Do you want to hand, suspended, in complete submission for your partner?
“Most cuffs can't be used for suspension bondage, for instance,” she says. As part of this introspective process, Queen suggests reading up on being handcuffed. “Two books that will include info about bondage and more are [Molly Devon’s] Screw the Roses, Send Me the Thorns ($24) and Tristan Taormino's Fifty Shades of Kink: An Introduction to BDSM ($18) which is more inclusive.” Get those books on lock.
2. Discuss the experience with your potential partner(s)
“If you have a specific partner in mind, make sure they want to do this kind of play and find out if there are any materials they can't have next to their skin,” Queen adds. To be sure, you want to have these chats before and during sexual interactions that involve handcuffs. “Negotiation is the most useful and inspiring skill you can learn from BDSM, aside from super-charging your erotic energy,” says Queen.
3. Remember that how tight you fasten the cuffs matters…a lot
“Don't put the cuffs on too tightly,” Queen says. “This is a huge mistake because too-tight cuffs can cause nerve damage.” To figure out whether or not the cuffs are at a good tightness level, Dr. Queen suggests sliding a finger between the wrist and the cuff, kinda like you’d do when you're making sure your pet's collar isn't choking them.
“If the cuffed person's hands get cold or numb, release them right away,” she says. During use, make sure the person in the cuffs can communicate how they're doing. According to Queen, “Some people have mobility issues that make certain kinds of bondage difficult. Don't force it!”
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