That pesky middle back area presents a major dilemma for single people around the world -- or really anyone who cares for a solo jaunt to the beach. Or, maybe it's that you and a couple of your bros plan to catch some rays, but none of you care to rub lotion on one another's sensitive areas.
Whatever the cause, the problem is universal: Try as you might, the combination of your short arms and a 50 SPF is no match for the sun's harsh rays... until now. Below, find a few sneaky ways to rub sunscreen into those hard-to-reach places, none of which require asking a sandy, scantily-clad stranger if he can "get your back."
Consider investing in...
This Fancy Lotion Applicator
Photo: Bed Bath & Beyond
Just casually throw one of these roller applicators into your beach tote and you're golden (not burned)! The As-Seen-On-TV Roll-A-Lotion Body Lotion Applicator claims to glide over your skin and release an even layer of product. It measures 19.5 inches, which should cover the length of most human backs.
The online reviews are mixed: Customer JOANDUNEDIN, of Dunedin, Fla. (a sunny spot, no doubt) gives the product a perfect five-star rating. "It works great. SO easy to use and apply lotion to areas you cannot reach!! I LOVE IT".
MATTM of Michigan, however, deems Roll-A-Lotion a "worthless product" that does not deliver. "The plastic balls have seams on them that cause them to get stuck in their sockets. No lotion comes out because the balls are not turning. To make matters worse, the seams are sharp and scrape your back when you try to push harder to get them to turn."
The product retails for $9.99, which means you won't be investing too much if you do choose to give it a whirl. If you'd rather not take your chances -- or you don't have time to wait for delivery -- scroll down for a few DIY-methods that can all be performed in the privacy of your own bathroom. No one will ever have to witness the lonely lengths you take to ensure an even tan.
Toilet Brush + Wash Cloth
Wrap a (new, unused!) toilet brush in a washcloth. Secure the wash cloth with some rubber bands or hair ties. Apply the sunscreen to the washcloth. Stand with your back to mirror and check over your shoulder to make sure you've covered every spot as you methodically move the brush up and down and from side to side.
Spatula + Wash Cloth
Are you bathroom-product-on-skin averse? Fair enough. Try the same method above, but sub in a spatula for the handle. Virtually any utensil that has a long handle and a flat surface for application will do -- consider an oversized wooden spoon, a backscratcher, fly swatter, even tongs.
Have a spare sponge, back scrubber or loofah lying around?
Follow the same procedure described above, but swap the towel for a sponge.
Paint Roller Method
Slather a clean paint roller with lotion and roll evenly on the once-inaccessible skin sites. Check the mirror to ensure you're covered.
Plastic Wrap Method
No longer is plastic wrap solely reserved for deli meats and leftovers. Spray or squirt lotion in the center of a long cut of plastic wrap and rub along your middle back as if you were drying off with a towel. Make sure to hold the wrap open wide, so it covers as much surface area as possible. The smooth plastic will allow for an easy, more lubricated rub that the wash cloth methods lack. You may have to use a couple of pieces to cover your whole back, as the plastic is likely to scrunch up and become ineffective.
Pull this move out at the beach and you won't be single for much longer: surfers will ride waves back to shore just to watch your impressive yoga ways up close. Cow face pose, or Gomukhasana, is a pose that stretches the rotator cuff, upper back and chest muscles. It also opens the chest and thoracic spine. Become an expert and before you know it you, you won't need a tool to slather lotion on your back. Namaste to that!
Note: The most effective way to apply sunscreen is the old-fashioned way -- with your hands, and when necessary, with the help of others. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends using a water resistant sunscreen that is 30 SPF or higher and provides broad spectrum coverage.