Ask LH: How Can I Apply Sunscreen To My Own Back?

Ask LH: How Can I Apply Sunscreen To My Own Back?

Dear Lifehacker, I have a simple question. What’s the best way for a single guy living alone to put sunscreen on his own back when help from others is unavailable? Thanks, No Stripes Please

Picture by Paul Kane/Getty Images

Dear NSP,

We’ve got a couple of suggestions to make here, but we’d absolutely welcome further reader input on this one. With any of these options, you’ll need to look over your shoulder in a full-length mirror to see how your coverage actually is when you’re done.

Check to see if you can do it. I’ve found that I can actually apply sunscreen across my entire back with a little judicious stretching and by placing it on the back of my fingers for a couple of hard-to-reach places. Whether this is possible for you will vary depending on your size, flexibility and degree of musculature, but it’s worth checking rather than just assuming it’s impossible.

Use spray-on sunscreen. This is probably the easiest solution; you can grab spray-on sunscreens at your chemist or online. You’ll likely go through a little more than if you rub it in yourself, but unless you’re grossly obese it’s possible to achieve coverage.

Use a small paint roller. I’ll confess I haven’t actually tried this, but it strikes me you could potentially use a small edging roller to reach the parts of your back your fingers can’t. A popular online suggestion is to use a towel and rub it across your back as if you were drying yourself, but that would, I imagine, waste a lot more sunscreen.

Leave your T-shirt on. OK, that’s slightly defeatist. But if it’s a really sunny day, you’re not actually swimming and you can’t manage with one of the other methods, staying covered is a much more effective cancer prevention technique than just saying “oh, stuff it”.

As ever, if readers have additional suggestions, please share them in the comments.


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