School's almost out here in Nashville and naturally we are all turning our eyes towards summer -- days at the pool, weekends at the lake, afternoons at the ball park, and perhaps a little work around the yard.

Given that our active lifestyles keep many of us outdoors, what are the smartest ways to protect your skin? And did you know that sunscreen is actually your last line of defense against sun damage? Follow these four simple rules to enjoy the outdoors and minimize sun damage.

1. Avoid Sun Exposure Between 10 and 2

The sun's rays are at the most intense during the middle of the day. It is best to stay indoors during these hot hours with direct overhead sunlight. Work on a project, run some errands, eat lunch with the kids, read a book -- it's your choice, but try to not be outdoors during these hours.

2. Wear Sun-Protective Clothing

Clothing is a GREAT way to protect your skin from the sun! Did you know that there are many comfortable, lightweight, cool, and even attractive options for sun-protective wear? Dr. Valet's personal favorite is Coolibar, a company out of Australia (find them at  Most people are familiar with rash guards, but did you know you can find swim tights as well as surf-style suits? Don't forget the little ones who need sun protection and also, don't forget your scalp and eyes! Hats and sunglassses are critical.

3. Actively Seek Shade

When you have to be outside during sunny hours, try to sit in the shade -- the shade of a tree, an umbrella, a porch awning (you get the idea!). Any shade you can find will protect your skin from the sun's most intense rays.

4. And Lastly . . . Wear Sunscreen on Exposed Skin

You knew we would recommend it. Most dermatologists recommend an spf of 30 or higher re-applied every 60-90 minutes during active sun exposure. Stay tuned for another blog post soon on HOW to choose a sunscreen. (It can be overwhelming, we know).

Until then, enjoy the last days of school and stay cool!