How to Put Suntan Lotion on Your Own Back

Of course it was surfers who figured this one out.


One of the perks of being in a relationship is always having someone around to rub sunscreen on your back. When you’re single, however — and if your friends, for whatever reason, refuse to lather up your hard-to-reach bits — you’re seemingly out of luck. Although you can kind of smear sunscreen back there, you’re mostly just going to feel like a tiny-armed T-Rex and eventually wind up with a bunch of burnt patches on your back.

There is a way to lather up your own back, though — at least per wetsuit maker and avid lone beach-goer Alex Wang. His advice:

  • Step #1: Cut a 2-foot-long sheet of plastic wrap. If you don’t have plastic wrap (not necessarily a beach-bag staple), you can use an old beach towel.
  • Step #2: Squirt a zigzag pattern of sunscreen — like you would with mustard on a hot dog — on the plastic wrap or beach towel.
  • Step #3: Wipe the sunscreen-laden plastic wrap/towel across your back as if you’re toweling it off.
  • Step #4: Allow the sunscreen to soak in for half an hour before hopping in the water; otherwise it’ll come right off.

For best results, dermatologist Anthony Rossi recommends using this method in tandem with a product that has an SPF of at least 15 and reapplying liberally every two hours spent under the sun (and after every dip in the pool or the ocean).

Alternatively, you could purchase one of those weird body lotion applicator things, which should, in theory, do a decent enough job of ensuring your back is fully covered with sunscreen. The downside is you’ll have to endure the stares of other beachgoers as you awkwardly lotion your own back with it (as well as making it painfully obvious that you have no one else in your life you can turn to).

This, of course, will also be true of sunscreen-smeared plastic wrap. So either way, it may not be your coolest moment.