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Review: Afterglow

Useless laser light energy and a manual that dictates my orgasms: the Afterglow is a scam and a waste of money.

Afterglow PulseWave vibrator showing off its useless laser light energy.
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I feel bad for celebrities. You’ll never hear me say that again. But they got the Afterglow in their goodie bags at the Oscars, and this is not what a good sex toy is. Not even close. Not even in the same hemisphere. (Tegan & Sara, if you’re reading this, I will personally buy each of you a Pure Wand to make up for this travesty.)

It’s a gimmick: the Afterglow stimulates with vibration and light energy. That’s as simply as I can put it. If you want to thoroughly roll your eyes, here’s a video about the “science,” but the bottom line is, light energy. As in lasers. As in immeasurable. Therein lies the scam: this is nothing more than a mediocre, overpriced rabbit vibrator invented by a sketchy doctor.

Out of the box, the toy had a hang tag around it which creepily read “I’m yours.” It came with a suede storage bag and a fancy-as-fuck locking leather box. Whatever money they spent on that storage box could’ve been used to make the toy waterproof, but nope — you’re not even supposed to clean the Afterglow under running water. That alone makes it not worth the price of $199. But don’t worry, there’s a lot more.

The Afterglow is equipped with features that aren’t actually features, such as a “privacy mode” which turns the red and blue lights off (now nobody will know that something is in your vagina!). The controls are oversized, like buttons on a TV remote for old people — this is the “no-look keypad.” After trying some of the nonsensical buttons, I had to consult the manual on how to turn the Afterglow on. That’s when I found out about the “travel lock”: you must press the plus and minus button simultaneously for 3 seconds to turn the toy on. Every time. Totally practical!

The manual is an experience unto itself — full of bombastic claims and patronizing instructions. One section’s header reads “Innovation by Doctors, for Women”;1 there is a long description of each phase of the sexual response cycle and how the Afterglow enhances all of them; I’m promised “what tantric teachings have called Kundalini, an energy allowing a more full body orgasm.”

You might love the Afterglow if you get off on being psychologically dominated by pre-programmed vibrators and instruction manuals. The 4-page long Guru Afterglow Guidance section (pictured) is particularly bossy, instructing in painstaking detail how to properly experience the PulseWave O program, an 8-minute “journey designed to enhance arousal and help you achieve better and more frequent orgasms.”

Guru Afterglow Guidance regarding the PulseWave O program in the Afterglow's manual.

I’m supposed to take 20 deep breaths in one minute, lube up the “fingers” of the toy (ew), turn it on but “DO NOT PRESS THE O BUTTON YET,” insert it, and take another 20 deep breaths in one minute before finally entering PulseWave O.

Time to relax and relish the sensations? THINK AGAIN. If I dare to near orgasm before five minutes have passed, the manual commands me to “decrease pressure. Wait.” Uh — okay. After five minutes, I’m given permission to come: “enjoy. It is time.” But what if I don’t orgasm within the 8-minute program? “Do not fret . . . Your body is primed for a great orgasm.”

This is genius. Put some fancy technology in a shell that has been known to provoke orgasms. When it provokes orgasms, or when it simply gets someone sort of close to orgasm, EUREKA! SUCCESS! BREAKTHROUGH IN MEDICAL SCIENCE! WOMEN HAPPY!

Let me break down this PulseWave O program for you, because it’s not that complicated or exciting.

  • 0 minutes: both parts of the toy vibrate at a pretty dang low intensity.
  • 1 minute: a sudden and somewhat jarring shift into a higher steady intensity, although not the highest.
  • 3 minutes: a slow, lower mode in which vibration oscillates between the insertable and clitoral parts.
  • 5 minutes: a faster version of the previous mode, at the highest intensity level.
  • 8 minutes: the program is complete, signaled by a drop back down into the steady low setting. I hope you weren’t on the verge of orgasm!

As a program meant to arouse and bring me close to orgasm, PulseWave O succeeds. The first change in vibration is well-played, and the second change pulls me back from the precipice of orgasm, teasing me until the final change swoops in to finish the job. But it’s that finishing of the job where it fucks everything up.

Every time I have an orgasm at the acceptable point in the program — after 5 minutes — the orgasm is decidedly shit. The oscillating vibration delivers me to the moment of orgasm, but fails to stimulate my clit thoroughly at the peak. It’s so frustrating I tend to make weird exasperated noises.

Ironically, I have better orgasms when I come in the 1-3 minute window — the time-frame the manual expressly forbids me to orgasm during.

But let’s be honest. I don’t want to come during any of the settings. The Afterglow’s vibrations are shitty buzzy surface level crap, and the shape doesn’t fit my anatomy. Like many rabbits, the clitoral arm overshoots my clit, so I have to insert the shaft only halfway to rectify it. This feels weird and stupid. The clitoral arm is fairly flexible, so at least it doesn’t jam into my clit if I thrust. That’s the nicest thing I’m capable of saying about this toy’s shape.

There is absolutely nothing revolutionary about how this toy feels. It does not arouse me more than comparable things, it does not feel unique, and it does not produce longer, full body, or multiple orgasms. I didn’t find enlightenment or Kundalini. In fact, the only thing the Afterglow did was make me desperately need some quality time with an amazing G-spot toy and my favorite clitoral vibrator.

But, devil’s advocate — maybe I just wasn’t following the excruciatingly specific program? So I set out to do exactly what the manual instructed: dim the lights, hang the “do not disturb” sign (sorry, don’t have one), turn off my phone, sip my favorite beverage (as I drank my wine I thought oh god, am I GULPING?), lose any uncomfortable clothing, and get into a relaxing position. I counted my breaths as I watched the clock, because that’s a winning formula for relaxation. Then I suffered through the PulseWave O “experience.”

I resent the way this vibrator tries to dictate my masturbation. I’d like to orgasm on my own terms, please.

Innovation is awesome when it’s both discernible and pleasurable, but the Afterglow’s purported technology isn’t even fucking discernible. Very convenient, isn’t it, that the energy this toy supposedly emits is invisible to the naked eye? I know when I’m being duped, and so does my vagina. This is nothing more than magical thinking. I’m not taking some asshole’s word for it.

Yeah. The Afterglow was created by a doctor named Ralph Zipper whose entire medical trajectory can be summed up like this: YOU ARE HAVING WOMAN PROBLEMS WHICH I WILL CREATE NAMES FOR AND THEN CORRECT WITH PROCEDURES I’VE INVENTED. He literally created a disorder, “Dysaethetica Vulva,” to justify labiaplasty. The procedure for which involves lasers being projected through diamonds because chicks love jewels, right!?

Here he is talking about “Vaginal Relaxation Syndrome” and how he can cure it with his Incisionless Vaginal Rejuvenation® procedure.

This man is Very Concerned about all these floppy vulvas that “look at bit like jowels [sic]” and can’t “hold penises” anymore. Which explains why the Afterglow Twitter account once tweeted “having a natural birth beats the shit out of a woman’s vagina” and then, when called out, defended it and left the tweet up for posterity.

I am so over dudes trying to mansplain pleasure to me. To fix things that aren’t broken. To fix things that are THE PRODUCT OF PATRIARCHY. You fucking caused this, douchebag. You. You are the reason. And I’m not letting you rush in and act like the hero. My orgasms didn’t need to be elevated, not that the Afterglow helped with that at all — and my vulva is perfect as is.

So, I didn’t achieve nirvana with the Afterglow. Maybe because I don’t own a “do not disturb” sign. Or because I took 19 breaths in one minute. Perhaps because I didn’t buy their special lube with its “unique ‘light activated’ formula.” More likely, it’s because I am a fully-functioning human being capable of independent thinking.

  1. Because apparently women can’t be doctors!

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  1. What I got out of that was mainly: Has this man not heard about Kegel exercises?
    I completely agree about loathing it when a toy manufacturer tells me how to masturbate. It’s as if there is only One Way to do it and All Women must do it That Way or else they’re doing it wrong (and need plastiosurgery?).

  2. 40 deep breaths in 2 minutes before you’re allowed to turn it on? One deep breath every 3 seconds for 2 full minutes. Right. So basically, start hyperventilating before you start masturbating. This seems like a smart idea.

    “one of the few things in my career I forgot to trademark” well at least he tells us in the first few seconds of the video that he’s totally in this a) to make shit up and b) for money

  3. I’m sorry, I do not fancy having the concept of female pleasure explained to me by some dude named Ralph Zipper.

  4. Wow. Another case of “all women are the same, right?!?”. Guess what, dude: women are capable of being SMART. Thus, they can discern the smell of bullshit without even being in the same room as the damned thing.

  5. I was wiling to give this toy an eyeroll and a shrug, because hey – maybe the program could work for someone, right? Then I got to the part about “dysaethetica vulva” and I became enraged. Forget all the other reasons, don’t buy this toy because it will make this asshole money. Me and my external genitalia don’t even want to be in the same state as him.

  6. This vibrator sounds like crap. And the use of light energy sounds like the idiots that get a Class IV laser to do “laser therapy” but don’t actually have any clue how to actually deliver an appropriate treatment.

    That being said, laser therapy can be a great addition to a multimodal pain management program as well as helping in reducing wound healing times.

    (Ortel, 2015, p. 300):
    LLLT (Low-Level Laser Therapy) requires an initial financial investment, but can be used for a variety of acute and chronic pain conditions. Arthritis, wounds, and pain conditions (such as trigger points) can benefit from laser (an acronym for light amplified by stimulated emission of radiation). Photons emitted by the laser unit affects tissues by activating enzymes that trigger biochemical reactions which reduce pain and inflammation, and promote healing, the process of photobiosimulation. LLLT treatment may increase the release of endorphins and enkepahlins and can be used to stimulate acupuncture points and treat muscle trigger points. There are a few classes of lasers used for therapy, based on power produced, most commonly 3B and 4A. There is no difference in tissue penetration; higher power merely results in lower treatment time. Therapeutic lasers generally have a wavelength of 820-904 nm (Milis et al. 2005). The photon wavelength influences depth of tissue penetration. Laser energy can penetrate tissues directly up to 2 cm and indirectly up to 5 cm (so the joint capsule of a large dog will not be directly affected). Energy delivered is measured in joules (J). Generally, 1-8 J of energy is applied to each area treated (Milis et al. 2005).

    Chapter 16: Physical Rehabilitation and the Veterinary Technician. (2015). In M. Goldberg (Ed.), Pain management for veterinary technicians and nurses (1st ed.). Ames, Iowa: John Wiley & Sons.

  7. Ralph.



    Pro tip: If you want to seem like an authority on something, don’t have a creeptastic name that can easily be speed-perused as RIPPER (as in Jack The)

  8. For somebody so worried by the looks of vulvas, he sure designed a rabbit that doesn’t look made to hit a clit. Any clit. In any jurisdiction.

    I mean, I’m aware different rabbits work for different people but…that arm is SO LONG. Does he think clits are inside our bellybuttons? Because that’s roundabout where it’d hit if I hated myself and put that thing into me.

  9. Hello Epiphora! I love your blog so much, your brilliant snark, and blunt honesty, I can’t even tell you! I discovered it a few months ago and I read it daily! My family is very snarky as well, so I was raised on it and I feel right at home with your blog. Except my family doesn’t talk about sex toys and the like, so thank you again for all the work you do as a sex educator. I get weird looks once in a while when I make a sarcastic comment and people don’t get my humor right away, and think I am serious. But then they usually laugh. Sometimes there’s a delay until they get it though. Oh, the hardship of being a smart-ass. Le sigh.

    I’m ashamed to admit I was kinda eyeing this magical doodad, I was a bit skeptical but also a bit intrigued by the 8 min orgasm claim and I know there is at least SOME truth to the laser light increasing blood flow and possibly increased stimulation claim. Lasers can help increase blood flow and have been used successfully in medical applications, so I was willing to at least not dismiss it instantly when I first heard about it. I was still VERY hesitant to spend the money, especially on a dubious rabbit shape and unsure if it was powerful enough for my demanding clitoris.

    I can squirt from clitoral stimulation but it usually takes 15-30 minutes and sometimes longer than that for me, unless I am on the Sybian. I am a big girl with fleshy labia and a buried clit so I am very skeptical about any rabbit vibe working for me. I am so glad I just spent the money instead on a gorgeous green Leaf Vitality (and it was a lot cheaper too, on sale at Shevibe! wooot!) which I am optimistic about because it is so flexible. Thank you Epiphora for saving me another $200! The most expensive toy I ever bought (besides Sybian) was my beloved Top Deluxe Eroscillator, and it was worth every damn penny! This thing… oh hell no! Any toy designer that tells me NOT to orgasm while I am using an item that was (supposedly) MADE to give orgasms- is not getting one cent from me! I think the reason the box is so swanky is because you will put it away there forever after the first use and the box at least makes it look pretty on the shelf while it gathers dust!!

    Thanks but no thanks, “Dr. (R)Zipper”. I will stick with my Mona 2, Siri 2, Tango, and trusty Wahl along with my beautiful Eros! I really enjoy the Sybian also but it’s a lot of work, and I don’t always want to bother with all the setup and tear down afterwards. My clitoris (and my recently found but still shy G-spot), and my bank account of course, thank you Piph! Next up on my wish list; the Comet II Wand! And the Pure Wand. And the Nobessence Seduction And… yeah, you get the idea. I will probably start with Comet II for the vibes, it should help convince my G-spot to come out and say ‘hello’- and stick around for the after party.

    I will conclude this long-ass comment by saying only this:

    Ralph ZIPPER?? WTF??? What an asshat. Oh sorry dude, I meant to say, “Dr. Asshat”. My mistake.

  10. *Slow clap*

    Honestly, when this dude started trying to push this to ladies (I think it was right at a year ago?) my brain nearly exploded from the pseudo-science BS.

    Glad to see that it’s on par with what I expected!

  11. I can’t even. Rabbits generally don’t work too well for me as is, as I have a finicky clit, but damn. This guy is seriously clueless about females and female anatomy. In ways I can’t even count. I would just be spluttering madly with irritation. Thanks, Piph, for verbalizing the mad spluttering I’d be doing at being handed this . . . thing.

  12. I want in on that… but will there be anybody betting against us? ::crickets chirping::

    I would love to see a video of someone cutting this thing open and showing us what’s inside. Maybe some bees and mini red and blue Christmas lights? A steaming pile of horse shit? Since it’s going to be pretty useless as a toy anyway. I’d get more use out of the fancy box than the “Afterglow” itself. It could give my darling Mona 2 a lovely new home. But not for $200, sorry Dr. Asshat… er.., Dr. Ripper. Zipper… whatever.

    Mmmm…LASERS. Cuz all us little girlies LOVE pretty colored lights, right Zippy? ::eyeroll::

  13. Yeah, don’t say your “for women” and then act like “your natural vagina doesn’t look right, and it’s too floppy, and after going through natural, normal changes that most childbearing women go through, you need a synthetic treatment with God knows what instead of exercises, what even are kegels? We are the only service providing this totally necessary thing for all women, even though plenty of females recover just fine, um actually, they don’t. Their vaginas are too big and can’t ‘hold’ a penis, cuz vaginas are like vases now, that can’t change elasticity and need to be physically restructured if what’s in them isn’t held properly.” Yeah thanks, bite me.

  14. Fuck that whole “vaginas are only good if they’re tight!!1!11” stream of bullshit. Especially when it comes with a side helping of heteronormativity (“vaginas are only good for penises and babies!”).

  15. “Do you turn the lights off before sex? Are you unwilling to receive oral sex? Are you embarrassed or self-conscious while receiving oral sex? Do you worry that your partner may find your vulva unattractive? If you answered yes to any of these questions, you likely have Dysaethetica Vulva.”

    Uhhhhhh sure okay either that or maybe you live in a patriarchal society with ridiculous standards for bodies that are completely blind to the wide range of humanity and expression and instead of finding someone who is supportive and wants to help you feel good about the body you have you’ve found this dude who wants to point lasers at your junk.
    Idk. Maybe. Just my opinion.

  16. Dr. Evil would design sharks with Afterglows attached to their heads. Pretty damn menacing

  17. If I were made of money, I’d be tempted to buy this thing, just to chuck it, and use that classy ass white leather case for my Ina 2. The dimensions are probably a bit different but I’d make it work lol.

  18. I knew this was gonna be bullshit as soon as I read the ad copy on Shevibe, but I read your takedown anyway cause I knew it would be hilarious. Did not disappoint!

  19. So, when I saw that you’re not supposed to clean the toy under running water, and that it cost $199, my mind came to a screeching halt. Like, I’m reasonably certain that my dad, sitting upstairs, had to convince himself that a car didn’t just suddenly appear in the basement and leave a bunch of tire-marks on the floor. Seriously? I’ve had $15 toys that were still able to withstand a quick run under the sink. If you’re going to presume that your toy knows how to make me have excellent orgasms better than I do, then you should at least make sure the damn thing is as hygienic as possible.

    Also, let’s not focus on learning to love our bodies and instead convince ourselves that labiaplasty is the only answer to our troubles! Actually, penises aren’t always perfect embodiments of symmetry and proportion either, so maybe it’s time for the gentlemen to start having their junk resculpted to look as immaculate as many dildos? I mean, it’s only fair, right?

  20. Um. Every vagina that has ever existed can “hold a penis” better than your creepy-ass hands, dude. I hope he’s forever sexless, masturbating without a fleshlight for the rest of his sad, miserable existence.

  21. Do you have any plans to review the Sensuelle Point? I’m interested in the claims of a bullet-style vibe stronger than the Tango.

  22. Also this dude… It’s almost as bad as the Split Dildo guy. In fact, no, they are the same badness. SO bad.

  23. So I know this post has a specific purpose of breaking down all the ways this product and its inventor suck, but Idk where else to ask this. Assuming fluid bonded partners who don’t want babies, would fellatio before putting on a condom be harmful to the condom? Should the penis be dried off before the condom goes on? Different sites give conflicting answers regarding this when I google.

  24. So fully seconded! I am enraged by people who make money off of making other people feel inadequate.

  25. Possibly my favorite part is that his made-up word – assuming it’s based on the word “aesthetic” – isn’t even spelled right.

  26. I saw the before and after gallery on his website, and it legit made me want to cry. There was nothing wrong with any of the vulvas I saw there. They were all beautiful. But some people with a toxic mentality convinced those people to undergo mutilation to become “acceptable.” As someone with naturally small labia who has long admired and envied the variety of larger labia that exist, it pains me to see people so ashamed of their natural bodies.

  27. When I read your first line, “I want to cut this fuckre open so badly.” I thought you were talking about Ralph Zipper and I was nodding my head in agreement.

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