Because it's the summer, I've been going to the beach a lot lately. Sometimes I'll go with family or friends, sometimes I'll just go alone. The thing is, I burn pretty easily, so I need to always put sunscreen on. When I'm with others, is isn't a problem to get sunscreen on my back because I can ask them to do it for me. When I'm alone, this is a problem because I don't have the reach or flexibility to do it by myself, and I don't really feel comfortable asking strangers to do it for me.

Is there any easy way to apply sunscreen to my back by myself? I can use either spray sunscreen or a lotion.


9 Answers 9


Take a spare towel that you can stretch across your back. Apply liberal amounts of sunscreen to the towel. Rub the sunscreen into your back using the pressure of keeping the towel tight across your back. If you have skin folds, you may have to work at getting into the crevices.

Towel drying

  • 12
    Won't this waste like a lot of sunscreen? Commented Jul 22, 2015 at 23:49
  • 6
    @DavidMulder probably... look, do you want to get burned, or not? =D
    – sǝɯɐſ
    Commented Jul 23, 2015 at 15:43
  • Maybe not as much as you might think. The fabric of the towel, the media (i.e., gel, water, lotion, etc.) of the sunscreen, your flexibility, and other factors will determine how much more sunscreen you will need versus the amount used if another person applies it. Commented Jul 23, 2015 at 22:56

You mentioned spray sunscreen. It seems as though the spray should work well.

  • Make sure there's little or no wind. Shelter yourself behind a car or building if needed.
  • Hold the spray canister in your right hand.
  • Reach up over your right shoulder and spray down the center of your back.
  • Move your hand over your head so it's over your left shoulder. Spray down diagonally over your back.
  • Reach up underneath your left arm and spray across your lower back.
  • Hold the spray canister in your left hand, and repeat the mirror image of the three spraying steps.

The first time you do it should be with a friend, even at home when there's no sun. They can confirm that you covered your whole back.

This technique is probably wasteful, as much of the spray will just go into the air. But it should cover your back fairly completely.

It's worth noting that beaches should set up areas where solo people can gather and spray each others' backs. You can't be the only one with this challenge.

  • 1
    "beaches should set up areas where solo people can gather and spray each others' backs" - I don't think this is practical. For most beaches, there isn't going to be more than one person needing it at a time, and for me it would be more uncomfortable waiting for someone to choose to come help me (Like, maybe that creepy dude standing nearby), than to ask someone that I am more comfortable with. On larger beaches where this could work, I still wouldn't be comfortable but also I wouldn't want to mark myself as being alone. Commented Jul 23, 2015 at 18:39
  • @DoubleDouble All fair points. When I wrote my comment, I only thought about it briefly, and didn't come up with a practical way to implement it. Commented Jul 28, 2015 at 15:51

If you want to use lotion - put some on the BACK of your hands. You can rub it into your back using the backs of your hands and the top of your forearms. Doing it like this instead of trying to use your hands normally, you won't be trying to twist your wrists in some unnatural way to reach further up into your back. Try it - you'll be surprised how much more natural it feels and how much further you can reach without straining.


A paint roller, one of the small ones that's meant to go behind radiators or in small spaces - long handle, small roller. One with a foam roller is best, its easier to wash it afterwards...


I've seen pump sprays that work upside down or upright (the stem has openings at each end with little metal balls, oriented in opposite directions)

This is much easier to spray reaching back over your shoulder.

A pump that only work upright has a work-around: bend forward so your back is horizontal, then reach up and spray parallel to your back.


Why not ask (politely, of course) for someone to do it ? Actually this is a pretty standard way to engage in a nice conversation or, perhaps, something else, at least here in Brazil.

The trick is to behave naturally. If all you want is the suncreen, then I´d suggest to look for a group of parents/grandparents with kids. Opting for sprays also reduces a lot any chance of being rejected.

  • The question was how they can do it themselves. Good solution, but it was stated explicitly in the question that they are not comfortable asking others. Commented Jul 24, 2015 at 15:58
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    You´re right. I didn´t pay attention to the last sentence, so my answer is not reallly addressing his problem. However, I still think it is a better solution... Commented Jul 25, 2015 at 16:29

Get a hand-held back massager, or a loofah on a stick, or a pancake flipper, or a fly swatter or anything with a long handle and a flat surface. Apply the sunscreen to the flat part and rub it all over your back with the handle. Maximum coverage, no waste and minimum looking-like-a-weirdo!


Spread lotion on a 2-3 ft. length of plastic wrap. Use it as if you were towel-drying your back. Not sure if this works for tanning creams, but it works great for moisturizing lotions.


one way i can think of. Spread the sunscreen evenly on a clean floor. lie on your back on the sunscreen area and rub the back against the floor. clean the floor later.

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