How to Put Sunscreen On Your Back Alone

Some of us don’t like getting rubbed down… we’d rather take the DIY route.

If you like to enjoy solo trips to the beach or pool, you’ve probably wondered about the best way to put sunscreen on your back by yourself.

The sun doesn’t stop its unending efforts to cook you alive just because you’re lonely. And let’s be real – sometimes it can even feels weird to ask a friend to rub your down with greasy lotion like a pig at a rodeo.

So, whether you’re just a fan of personal space or don’t have the advantage of an extra set of hands, here’s our list of the best ways to put sunscreen on your back, solo.

1. Use a sunscreen spray.

Sunscreen sprays have a huge advantage over sun lotions in that you can direct the spray stream onto your body from a distance. If you angle the sunscreen spray towards your back from above your shoulders and from the sides, you can usually get a pretty decent area of coverage.

2. Use a towel or washcloth.

You may be surprised what a washcloth or towel can accomplish with a little ingenuity! Throw a generous amount of sunscreen lotion onto the middle section of a hand towel or washcloth, and then rub the material up and down your back in a “toweling off” motion.

Since the towel or washcloth will soak up some of the sunscreen, you’ll end up wasting a fair bit of sunscreen to really get a good layer on your back, so we’d only recommend doing this with cheaper sunscreen.

3. Use plastic wrap.

Similar to the towel or washcloth option, you can also use a sheet of plastic wrap to accomplish the same general idea.

Just cut a 2-3 foot piece of plastic wrap, squirt a zig-zag line of sunscreen onto the plastic wrap, and wrap it around your back. From then, use the toweling-off motion to get the sunscreen all over your back area.

The plastic wrap method has the advantage of moving a bit more smoothly than a towel, and you can see exactly where the sunscreen is moving thanks to the plastic being clear. The disadvantage is that the plastic wrap can clump up pretty easily, so you may need to use several plastic wrap sheets to really cover your entire back.

Alternatively, you can also wrap a towel or washcloth around a spatula or some other long-handled item to create your own DIY back lotion spreader.

3. Apply sunscreen with a long-handled brush or applicator.

There are a few different long-handled sunscreen applicators on the market (check out our favorite here) that make it easy to apply sunscreen to your back without you having to ask for help.

These sunscreen back applicators all basically work the same – squirt sunscreen on the sponge portion and then rub it all across your back. It may seem silly, but these things work great!

4. Do some twisty arm yoga.

If you have some moderate flexibility, you can actually cover most of your back in sunscreen by using the front and back sides of your hands and twisting your arms around at a few different angles.

You can see this method being performed in the video below:

5. Use a foam paint roller.

This one is definitely the most unexpected method on the list, but hear us out. A foam paint roller can actually do a pretty decent job at applying sunscreen to your back – just apply lotion to the roller and then roll it up and down your skin.

The advantage of using a foam paint roller is that it’s small, so you can easily carry it around with you in a beach bag and reapply on the go!

6. Try a back lotion applicator strip.

These back lotion fabric strip applicators are also pretty nifty. Basically, this is a product that allows you to use the towel/washcloth method, but with fabric that’s designed for the task. We’d choose this over the DIY towel version because this item is intentionally made with non-absorbent fabric. So, unlike a towel, this product won’t waste as much sun lotion and will probably move a bit easier across your back as well.

Other Tips For Applying Sunscreen To Your Back, Sans Help

Apply sunscreen to your back in front of a mirror. It’s just too hard to really ensure you get every portion of your back covered without using one.

  • Put sunscreen on before you put your swimsuit on. We find that when it comes to really getting your back covered, it’s best to work without a swimsuit on your top torso. All the methods outlined here tend not to be super precise, and you’ll likely get a good amount of sunscreen on your swimsuit if you try to apply without taking the swimsuit off first.
  • Let the sunscreen dry before putting on clothes. No one likes to deal with sunscreen stains, so we recommend putting the sunscreen on first, letting it dry, and then putting on a swimsuit or clothes.
  • Wear a swim shirt. If you don’t want to deal with putting sunscreen on your back by yourself, you may want to consider a swim shirt! Swim shirts dry off quickly and provide all the UV protection you need to keep your back safe.

Applying sunscreen to your back can be a challenge, but with these tips you should be able to get the job done without enlisting the help of a stranger to rub you down. Because let’s be honest – that would be awkward.

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