Sensation Play 101: An Introduction To The Tantalizing World Of Kink

Let’s face it, even the most loving relationships can get a little… stale. Those tawdry nights of passion and lust too easily give way to the same tried and tested positions in bed with the lights off. If “Netflix and chill” in your relationship isn’t so much innuendo as a literal invitation to catch up on boxsets, Sensation Play can take your sex life to the next level.

If you grow cold at the thought of whips, latex and gimp masks, you may have decided that kink isn’t for you. But don’t rule it out just yet. While the media often focuses on the more polarising types of kink, in reality, it’s as diverse as those who enjoy it. In fact, there are so many types of kinky sex play that there’s bound to be one that’s perfect for you.

Whether you want to spice up your marriage or broaden your horizons, we’re here to introduce you to the tantalising world of kink. By the end of this article, you won’t just be more knowledgeable; you’ll be ready to take the first step toward a sexual awakening.

In this article, we’ll cover:

  • An Introduction To Sensation Play
  • Types of Sensation Play
    • Hot and Cold
    • Wax Play
    • Tickling
    • Electrical Play
    • Soft and Scratchy
    • Edge Play
    • Pain
    • Wartenberg Wheel
  • The Psychological Roles In Sensation Play
    • Discipline
    • Power
    • Loss Of Control
  • Safety In Sensation Play
  • Aftercare

An Introduction To Sensation Play

On their own, sensations aren’t necessarily kinky. Think of those light touches during foreplay, the tracing of fingers over your thigh and how it increases that deep need for more. Sex is inherently sensual, and any good sexual encounter will include physical sensations. Sensation Play as a kink takes this experience and elevates it to another level, either with more intense physical sensations or by adding a psychological element of power and control.

If the words “intense” and “psychological” are making your knees close like a vice, don’t worry – while part of kink is exploring your boundaries, you’re sure to find an element of Sensation Play that doesn’t stray too far from your comfort zone. Engaging in kinky play doesn’t mean relinquishing all control unless, of course, that’s what you’re into.

It’s also worth noting that when it comes to Sensation Play, the ultimate goal isn’t necessarily to finish with sex. The withholding of sex – drawing out that desire until you simply can’t take it anymore – is a type of Sensation Play many couples explore as part of their introduction to kink.

Like everything else in the world of kink, there is no right or wrong, only right for you. So, without further ado, let’s look at the main subsets of Sensation Play.

Types Of Sensation Play

The types of sensation you play with behind closed doors are only limited by what you like or don’t like. Any activity that creates a feeling on your skin, in your muscles, or even in your mind is a sensation. While you can use almost anything in this kind of play, there are a handful of “typical” sensations that have proved incredibly popular. Some you may have already experimented with yourself!

Explore some of the sensations you may want to bring into the bedroom, then move on to the next section, where we break down how to put them into action.

Contrasting Sensations: Hot and Cold

One of the most accessible ways to get into Sensation Play, using heat and cool to stimulate the body is a great way to introduce a touch of kink into the bedroom. All you need to get started are ice cubes and hot tap water. Explore the change in sensation between an ice cube and a warm tongue, experimenting with other temperatures and parts of the body.

If you enjoy hot and cold play, you might also want to consider investing in glass or stainless steel toys. These materials conduct heat, so pop one in the refrigerator and another in warm water, then enjoy the results.

Of course, when experimenting with hot and cold temperatures, it’s important to make sure that anything hot is a comfortable warmth and that ice doesn’t get stuck to the skin. Test against the skin on your wrist before anywhere more intimate.

Contrasting Textures: Soft and Scratchy

Like hot and cold, soft and scratchy textures can be used together to create contrast, or can be enjoyed independently of each other. While you can buy specific toys to create either a soft or scratchy feeling, it’s not always necessary, especially if you’re trying it out for the first time. That being said, if you find that soft and scratchy tickles your fancy, there are lots of toys to check out, so explore the range and pick out something that gets you hot under the collar.

Soft and scratchy play can also be used to break up more intense play, like electrical stimulation. Flower petals, soft cotton, fake fur, or silk are often a welcome indulgence after exposure to pain.

Let’s Heat Things Up With Wax Play

Wax is another way to bring a little heat into your sex life, although we’re not suggesting that you get your Yankee Candles out. Instead, pick up some candles that have been explicitly designed for Sensation Play (they melt at a lower heat). You can find these at any local or online sex store. Experienced kinksters looking for more extreme sensations may choose to use ordinary candles, but it’s not generally advised.

The trick to wax play is how high you hold the candle above your partner while dripping wax on them, as well as where you drip it. The higher you go, the more the wax will cool before it hits the skin.

To make wax removal easier, you might want to coat the skin in massage oil before you begin to play, although many people enjoy the sensation of the wax being scraped off them. It’s all part of the fun!

Learn more in How to Have Fun (and Be Safe) With Wax Play.

It’s Tickling, But Not As You Know It

Tickling might not be an experience you necessarily associate with a steamy encounter, but we challenge you to rethink that stance. That feeling of helplessness when someone tickles your feet or sides, combined with the pleasure you feel from the sensation, has a big crossover with the pleasures associated with kink.

Not only can tickling lead to incredible pleasure, but it also takes some of the seriousness out of trying something new in the bedroom. Tickling is also a great way to practice giving power over to your sexual partner, see Loss Of Control.

Electrical Play, Putting The Spark Into Your Sex Life

Electrical pulses can bring pain and pleasure into a sexual encounter, depending on the frequency and where you place the device. Violet wands and TENS units are some of the most common ways to explore electrical play, and because they’re adjustable, you can experiment to discover what feels good, either on your own or with a partner.

A TENS unit is a medical device which is designed to relax muscles. When turned to a high setting, it can cause a jolt of pain, which is a great way to bring edging or pain into your Sensation Play. But, at lower frequencies, electrical play is an exciting way to stimulate muscles, causing orgasms and lots of pleasure for all parties.

Pain? Pleasure? Or Both?

No discussion of sensation play would be complete without a mention of pain. As you’ve noticed, many forms of sensation play that we’ve discussed can cause pain. Hot candle wax, electro-stimulation, and the more extreme options we’ll be covering next, may cause uncomfortable and potentially painful sensations.

Essentially, the idea behind bringing pain into Sensation Play is that what we describe as pain is often just an intense feeling that we’re not used to. By experimenting with sensations, many people find that within pain, they find a new level of pleasure they weren’t aware of. There is no single right way to process a sensation, so work with your partner to find out what they’re comfortable with and how far they want to explore their limits.

Edge Play, Not For The Faint Of Heart

Look away now if you have a gentle disposition, edge play is one of the “extreme” forms of kinky play and is for advanced kinksters only.

Edge play usually involves some combination of needles, knives and/or blood, although sometimes, these aren’t used at all, only simulated. Some people want the sharp sensation of a needle or knife breaking their skin, and the feeling of blood dripping down their body. In edge play, this can happen safely between consenting adults, or can be simulated by the Dominant, creating sensations that make their partner believe they’re experiencing these things, when in fact they’re not.

As edge play involves the risk of harm, it should only be tried after establishing strong trust, learning how to play safely, understanding first aid and CPR, and testing for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) to prevent the spread of disease.

An Example Of Edge Play: The Wartenberg Wheel

Originally a medical device used to test for nerve damage, the Wartenberg wheel is a firm favourite among many in the kink community as a tool for use in edge play. The device looks a little like a pizza cutter with sharp spines attached to the wheel and creates a feeling similar to that of your skin being cut. Combined with a trickle of warm water on the skin to simulate blood, it’s an effective way to get the full edging experience without any risk of damage.

The Psychological Roles In Sensation Play

So, have any of the above options piqued your interest? Are you feeling tingly just thinking about it? Well, before you get any action there are a few more things we need to cover. First up, let’s discuss the power dynamic in your sexual relationship.

Whether or not you’re comfortable with the “Dominant” and “Submissive” titles, any play will see one person wielding the power, while the other enjoys the pleasure. Of course, this can switch from one moment to the next, but there are a few rules both participants should keep in mind.


Can you name the “D” in the BDSM acronym? While the other aspects of BDSM get much more airtime, it’s Discipline which underpins not just this variety of kink, but all kink. In sensual play, discipline is part of discovering the limits of what a “bottom” or “Submissive” can handle. These “rules” between you and your partner force you to exercise self-discipline, adding a whole new element to sex. Here are some examples of how you can bring discipline into your Sensation Play.

  • Don’t move while you’re tickled.
  • Don’t twitch during this sharp, prickly sensation.
  • Allow intense cold or heat to touch your skin.
  • How long can you handle the sensation?
  • How intense do you want it?

Of course, your limits and safety should always be a priority. If a sensation hurts in an unpleasurable way or causes genuine fear of damage, play should stop immediately. Having an agreed safeword is a great way to provide this safety net.


While it’s down to the bottom to show discipline during play, the partner who’s providing the sensations also has an important role. Like other forms of kinky play, a “top” or “Dominant” controls when, how, what, where and how much of a given sensation their partner experiences. This power in itself is highly erotic, but it shouldn’t be taken lightly.

You know that saying, being “high on power”, until you’ve taken the lead in Sensation Play, you won’t know what you’ve been missing. But, before diving headfirst into wax, ice cubes and instruments of pain, you need to understand what your partner wants, enjoys, and is comfortable exploring. Is this encounter going to be centred around stretching them to their limits, or is relaxation the focus? These are the conversations you need to have upfront before the fun begins.

Loss of Control

If one side of sensation play is about power, the flip side is about losing control. Being blindfolded, tied down, or told not to move while your body is pricked, tickled, burned, or scratched is the ultimate way to heighten sensations.

What is it about having no control that is such a sexual element in kink? It’s a way to turn off your brain, shutting out all those other things that distract you from the here and now. All you can do is react, feel, and experience. It’s no wonder so many people in high power professional roles love to be submissive between the sheets!

Giving total control to a partner is a massive exercise in trust. It should involve communication and be with someone you know fairly well. You don’t have to be soul mates, but you should know what they like, hate, and will try at least once.

Tip: A great way to ease yourself into giving up control is to wear a blindfold and let your partner lead. Once you’re comfortable, progress to sexy silk cuffs. What comes next is up to you.


Fear can be a form of edge play and is used in Sensation Play by the submissive believing that what they feel is something they’re afraid of. The sensation may cause fear, or a person may fear the unknown. Regardless of the reason for the fear, it can be an intoxicating way to play.

Because of the potential for danger, especially with mental triggers, Sensation Play and fear should be something you build up to; it’s certainly not entrance level kink. Safewords, checking in with your partner, and going slowly are essential to playing with fear, as is knowing and respecting your partner’s limits.

How To Play Safely

As we’ve discussed, Sensation Play can involve extreme temperatures, pain and fear. With that in mind, it goes without saying that it’s essential to play carefully and to ensure you communicate well with your partner. Safety is important in all forms of kink, so here are a few tips before you get started.

For everyone:

  • Be open and honest about your limits.
  • Admit if something scares you.
  • Have a safe word.
  • If gags are involved, use a safe gesture like a snap of the fingers or dropping an object to signal a problem.

For Dominants:

  • Check in with your partner, even if there are no apparent signs of distress.
  • If you’re ever in doubt, ask and/or stop.

For Submissives:

  • Do not think you’re disappointing your partner if you need to slow down or stop.
  • Be honest about whether you want something to continue or not.
  • You can change your mind at any point about your limits or what you’re willing to do.

What Happens Next? Sensation Play Aftercare

No matter what kind of sensations you play with, aftercare is a must. Sensation Play can be physically and emotionally exhausting, so it’s common courtesy for the Dominant to take care of the Submissive after a session.

After playing, offer food and water, along with a blanket to help regulate temperature while your partner comes back to Earth after their journey into the sexual beyond. Offer to help with any next steps, such as cleaning wax off their body or getting dressed. If you’ve explored edge play, tend to any broken skin and make sure your partner hasn’t been emotionally triggered or is in need of any medical care. Sensation Play affects both the body and the mind so, after a session, your partner may struggle to process information and be a little spaced out. Don’t leave them alone during this “come down” period, especially if they’re incoherent.

How a person reacts during and after Sensation Play is unique to them. What they need in terms of aftercare will vary depending on their experience and what elements you brought into your play.

Sensation Play is a fantastic way to take the next step in your exploration of kink without necessarily getting too far out of your comfort zone. Like all forms of kink, you can find a place on the spectrum that feels right for you. All that’s important is that you have a strong foundation of trust and communication before getting started, so that you can both have a positive experience you’ll want to repeat again, and again, and again.