Getting into BDSM for the first time? Some of the gear and toys you’ll need to get started aren’t necessarily as kinky, edgy or expensive as you might think. To get some hot tips for beginners, we talked to Castratta, Lady of Pain, who has been a lifestyle and professional Dominatrix for over 20 years and is also a sales associate at Noir Leather, a leather and kink store in Royal Oak, Mich. Here's her advice.

Start With the Rear

"For first-timers, I advocate playing with the butt," says Castratta. "There are more nerves in the sphincter than any other part of the body. You can use anal beads, anal stimulators, butt plugs and prostate milking."

Dominix - an exclusive Lovehoney.com range of luxury bondage gearThe night before anal play, Castratta recommends fasting and cleansing with an enema. "You don’t want to do an enema right before play because water can get lodged your system," Castratta says. "I’m a firm believer in licking and then using fingers, so make sure your partner is clean and comfortable.

Use What You've Got

Bondage gear doesn't have to be overly complicated. In fact, the scarves and stockings you have around the house can make excellent restraints and blindfolds.

"A lot of my submissives get turned on by being tied with an article of my clothing," Castratta says. She doesn't advocate that beginners start with rope or handcuffs, as they can put a strain on the body that can distract from the erotic sensations your partner will be feeling. When experimenting with bondage for the first time, it’s best to have your partner in a lying position before restraining them, rather than having them stand in one place, even for a short period of time. When tying restraints, use the two finger rule, as you would when testing the fit on a dog collar, to make sure that ties aren’t too tight and to avoid nerve damage. (Here are some other ideas for household items that make good sex toys ).
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Experiment with Sensation Play

Bondage can provide visual stimulation for a Dom/Domme and push the limits of trust for a sub, but it also intensifies the effects of sensation play. Try alternating between dripping soy candle wax, which melts at a low temperature (110 degrees), and ice on your partner’s skin. Once you're a bit more experienced, you can use a violet wand, or electro stimulation as a safe way to turn the entire body into an electrical conductor.

"The sensations from a violet wand can vary from a mild vibration to zapping sensation," Castratta says. "It can make your whole body feel like a vibrator. And it’s great for oral sex."

Nipple clamps can also be a lot of fun and can come in a variety of intensities. Castratta recommends testing your comfort level by trying the clamps on your hand at the store before you buy them.

Blindfolds are another way to heighten the sensations of touch during play. They force your partner to become focused on sensations other than sight, like hearing and smell, which can be very erotic. While leather masks are sexy for effect, sleep masks and scarves may be more accessible and work just as well. (For more reasons to tie each other up, read Why Bondage Can Be So Much Fun.)

Try Spanking

Before going out to buy a paddle, crop or flogger, Castratta recommends trying spanking play with the most available tool: your hand. Then, if you really want to get your hands on spanking implements, Castratta suggests starting with a paddle that has leather on one side and a softer material on the other. Skinny, thin wood paddles used with a light tap are recommended for genitals.

"Wood and silicone paddles have much more bite; they’re more intense, "Castratta says. "Perforated paddles are going to hurt more, too."

Flappers and riding crops are great implements for beginners that can be used just as effectively by more experienced players. So are suede floggers, which can be used very lightly on the skin but can also deliver a bit of a sting.

"Regardless of what you’re using," Castratta says, "you want to use it on soft tissue" to avoid damaging internal organs, such as the kidneys. (For more spanking tips, read Your Hand, My Ass: Erotic Spanking for Beginners.)

Don't Spend a Fortune on Toys

Does it pay to spend more on handcrafted or premium material toys? Castratta says not necessarily. Novelty implements found in most sex toy shops are not worse than handmade toys, but they may not be as durable or last as long, depending on the materials they are made from. You may also get more comfort with higher-end, more carefully crafted items. That said, Castratta advises not to make a big investment in BDSM gear until you're sure that you’ll be using it for a long time.

Seek out BDSM Communities Online

Castratta recommends that Doms and Dommes also try playing a submissive role to know how it feels to be on the receiving end. "I get a lot of guys that come into the store saying, 'I’m in control. I want her to do anything I want,’" Castratta says. "With an attitude like that, they’re not going to get very far. BDSM play is more like having a dance partner; one leads and the other follows. Beginners might find it helpful to seek the advice of a mentor and chat with others on message boards and online groups like FetLife. Castratta also recommends "Screw the Roses, Send Me the Thorns" as an excellent book for learning how to use BDSM gear. (Here's another article, for those exploring their dominant side: So, You Wanna Be a Dominant?)

The Brain Is the Most Powerful Sex Toy

More important than having the right toys and implements is understanding the power of the mind when it comes comes to BDSM and any other kind of sexual play. Castratta recommends reading Ian Kerner’s "She Comes First," a book that will prove that when it comes to sex, it’s all in the head. Castratta also emphasizes the importance of communication. Talk to each other, figure out what turns each other on (and what doesn't) and get to work.

Now, that wasn't so hard, was it?