Facing cancer? We can help. 1-888-939-3333

A Conversation
on Prevention

Jen, TIO Ambassadors, Tanning, Youth, June 14th, 2013

Tanning is Out Highlights

The results are in! The Tanning is Out Challenge was a huge success for high schools with more than 8,000 students in BC pledging to stay tan-free! Students promoted sun safety and busted some dangerous myths regarding tanning. They planned activities asking their peers to take the tan-free pledge and avoid deliberate tanning both indoors and outdoors. 

Photo Challenge:

Students also took part in weekly photo challenges. Each school was encouraged to submit a photo to TIO Facebook. The school with the funniest and most creative photo of the week was eligible for an extra per cent added to their total pledge numbers giving them an advantage to potentially win the overall challenge. We saw creative shine and I’ve never seen competition this fierce!

What are students saying about the photo challenge?

“It was a good way to get the word out and it was creative.”

“It was fun! I was able to participate with my friends.”

“Everyone got a chance to be whacky.”

Successes and Inspiration:


Tanning is Out Leaders from the Greater Vancouver Area at Windermere Community School hosted themes like “Jers-day” where students encouraged their peers to dress up like their favourite, and extremely artificially tanned, Jersey Shore characters while promoting the TIO Challenge and what not to look like. With their Photo Challenge submissions, Windermere came out on top with 100.5% of grade 12’s pledging to be tan-free. Awesome job guys! 

On Vancouver Island the winning school, Oak Bay High generously decided to donate their prize money towards Relay for Life. This inspirational group of students have helped advance the work of the Canadian Cancer Society in so many ways. Truly amazing!

In the Fraser Valley Region, Tamanawis Secondary TIO Student Leaders showed the “What if” video and provided presentations to all Gr. 10 classes in the school. They focused on the fact that skin cancer doesn’t discriminate and that people of all skin types must practice sun sense.

In the Northern Region, Williams Lake Secondary TIO Leaders engaged the cooking class to bake cakes frosted with orange TIO designs which they shared when students pledged.

In the Southern Interior Region students from grades 6-12 took the tan-free pledge. The TIO initiative at Kelowna Christian School was a feature story on Global BC in the Okanagan.

Personal reflection: 

As a former student volunteer and continuing TIO volunteer, it has been wonderful journey to work on this initiative with high school students. It’s an amazing feeling to walk out of a high school knowing that you’ve changed the way someone evaluates how unnecessary and dangerous tanning is. The message behind this campaign has really resonated with me over the years. It has constantly reminded me that true beauty isn’t what you can do to change your skin but learning to embrace all the parts that make you who you are.

For a more in depth explanation about Tanning is Out, click here.

Until next time,

Jennifer Wu

Jen, TIO Ambassadors, Tanning, Youth, April 25th, 2013

Personal Reflection on Tanning is Out

By Jen

I personally thought Tanning is Out was a rewarding experience and was definitely one of the highlights of my grad year. As you may recall, I wrote a post last year about my experience at Windermere Secondary’s TIO.  The best part of this event was just experiencing the change in perception from my peers. Whether it be releasing some of the pressures to look “bronzed”, or helping break some myths about a “healthy” tan (which is totally not healthy at all), the TIO challenge definitely broke some barriers between what we would like to believe and what we really should know. 

Jennifer Wu (far right) with Windermere student leaders encouraging students to take the tan-free pledge last year.

This year I continue my journey with the TIO team as a Challenge Leader with Windermere. The best part hasn’t changed much. I still love coming into the schools for their events and seeing what an impact pledge week has on the entire school. It’s definitely been a team effort and the most rewarding part is just watching the slow change in perception in regards to what “embracing/owning your own skin tone” really means! 

The initiative shines a lot of light on an often misinformed subject in our society today. With the media showing us that “bronze is the new beautiful/healthy/sexy” it becomes increasingly difficult to shy away from those images and remind ourselves that we are good enough and we don’t need to alter our exterior to fit a mold.

Fact: Having a tan is unhealthy. When your skin colour changes, it’s damaged and can lead to premature aging and skin cancer.

What are your thoughts on the look of a tan? Leave me a comment in the box below!

Until next time,

Jennifer Wu

Jen, TIO Ambassadors, Tanning, Youth, April 8th, 2013

Tanning is Totally Out

By Jen

Spring has finally come into full force with more sun and definitely more fun! With the Canadian Cancer Society’s annual Tanning is Out Challenge in high gear, high schools all across BC are taking part in this fun challenge.

So what exactly is the “Tanning is Out Challenge” all about?

Well the name says it all! High schools across BC host one week full of themed days promoting sun safety while educating students that no tan is a safe tan. The goal is to collect pledges from students to encourage them to avoid tanning indoors and outdoors before the end of school (and the rest of their lives!). The school with the highest percentage of pledges would then be able to bask in all their tan free glory.

FACT: There is no safe way to get a tan. Some tanning beds can expose people up to 5 times more radiation than the sun.

The creative forces behind TIO

A little healthy competition among schools has fueled student commitment and enthusiasm for the cause. Believe me, hosting a TIO pledge week definitely requires creativity and A LOT of team work!

On Vancouver Island, Carihi Secondary has gone the lengths of canvassing their local grocery chain to get donations for a TIO Challenge tail gate party where they also promoted the cause.  The profit generated from the party was then donated to the TIO Challenge leader’s Relay for Life team.

In the Greater Vancouver Region, a number of schools are getting creative. Argyle Secondary’s “Anti-Orange Day” in which they handed out oranges with the logo “orange is a snack, not a skin tone” was a huge hit! Handsworth Secondary hosted karaoke and a Zumba work out session to promote healthy life choices and spread the TIO message.

There are still a number of schools in the midst of their pledge weeks. The anticipation of the upcoming pledge count is nearing and schools are on their toes waiting for their results. It is important to mention that the TIO challenge would not be able to spread its message the way it has without the commitment and hard work of schools across BC! 

Stay tuned for a final update on schools across the province!

Until next time, Jennifer Wu

Jen, TIO Ambassadors, Tanning, Youth, June 1st, 2012

Last minute details for prom

by Jen

For some of you grads out there, Prom Season has gotten you in stress mode while finding the ‘perfect’ outfit that will leave your peers in awe. Refer to my older posts on dress and make-up tips –  Helpful Tips for Grad Pics.

When you are finalizing the last minute details for prom, take into consideration some of these suggestions to make the most of your night.

A struggle between beauty and comfort… has met its answer!

TIP: You are more likely to re-wear your prom heels compared to your dress, so it’s okay to splurge on those shoes you’ve been eyeing!

Make sure you find shoes that are comfortable and tolerable. It’s your big night and you’ll probably spend the majority of it on your feet dancing away or running around taking pictures. I’m sure you don’t want to spend your big night walking around barefoot or clenching your teeth because of painful heels!

Wedges are a great alternative to those high-rise heels. While still giving you height, they spread your weight evenly so that there are no pressure points.  If your dress is long, your shoes will hardly show, so if wedges don’t really suit your style, you can still pull them off!

Tip: Gel insoles for heels are a great way to reduce the pressure points and stiffness of the heel. Translation? Heels are more tolerable with less pain and going barefoot isn’t an option! Many platforms tend to have very weak traction at the bottom of the shoe, creating a higher chance of you slipping.  By inserting heel grips at the bottom of your platforms, you decrease the chances of a slipping incident!

Cheaper alternatives to pricey costs

Want to get your hair and nails done prior to prom? Salons can get expensive for that one-time-do. Instead of paying someone to curl your hair and paint your nails, get your girlfriends to help you out. Get a bunch of friends to come over and do each other’s hair and nails. There are hundreds of DIY tutorials on YouTube to teach you how to prep for prom. It’s free and fun – it can’t get any better than that!

Prom accessories

Tip: Think of your dress as the spotlight of the show and everything else is meant to enhance the look of the dress, not outshine it!

This floral charm necklace goes great with a black or white dress. The colour block multi-chained necklace is subtle enough to rock without over doing it.

When it comes to the colour of your dress and the accessories you choose, pastel and bolder colours tend to go great with simple jewelry pieces, because they’re already quite loud. Whereas cream coloured, white or black dresses go great with bold coloured statement pieces such as teal, red or sequins. Stacking some awesome bangles is another great option.

If your dress is quite simple, you can’t go wrong with a fringe necklace.

I want to acknowledge the schools across B.C. that have joined the Canadian Cancer Society’s Tan Free Grad Challenge! Over 6,000 students across the province have pledged to not indoor or outdoor tan prior to prom. You guys are awesome and lead a great example for embracing and OWNING your natural skin tone! Visit Cancer Game Plan for more info on the Tan Free Grad.

I wish everyone a happy prom. Though one chapter in life has just ended, many more are to come. So please have fun and be safe!

Until next time,


Photos: Prom Images (Canadian Cancer Society);  Black Wedge, Blue Wedge, Pink Wedge; Floral Charm Necklace; Multi-Chain Necklace; Bead Fringe; Blue Fringe

Jen, TIO Ambassadors, Tanning, Youth, April 23rd, 2012

Tan Free Grad

by Jen

Firstly, I want to acknowledge that the BC Government has recently announced that they plan to ban the use of indoor tanning for youth under 18. How cool is that?!

Now on to Tan Free Grad…

In preparation for the prom fiasco, Windermere Community School has participated, alongside other schools across the province, in its first ever Tan Free Grad!

So what exactly IS Tan Free Grad?

It involves a group/committee of students that plan and carry-out the Tan Free Grad initiative at their school. The goal is to collect pledges from grads promising that they won’t tan indoors or outdoors for prom. At Windermere, for one week we had a different theme every day that would educate students and raise awareness about the dangers of UV radiation and the precautions that can be taken.

Goal: When I had initially heard about the Tan Free Grad I was excited to get involved because I knew that many students at my school were contemplating indoor tanning for prom. I know that there had to be a way to educate people without coming off as ‘in their face’ or judgmental.

Tan Free Grad was one of the best experiences of my senior year and a great way to get students and the grad committee involved in something that could save lives and educate youth on the misconceptions about tanned skin.

The committee and I wanted to eradicate the portrayal of tanned skin as “beautiful” or “desirable”. After exposing the student body to the facts and dangers about indoor tanning, many were on board with our anti-tanning movement.

Everything starts with a willingness to try – I’m glad that I was a part of such a great and supportive team of grads that shared a similar interest in reaching out to youth regarding the dangers of tanning.

I encourage students to take on this challenge in your school and see the difference you’re able to make!

Conclusion: Windermere came out strong with 98% of the grad class pledging NOT to tan! The highest percentage in the Greater Vancouver Region!

For more information on how you can participate or lead a Tan Free Grad at your school visit Cancer Game Plan!

Until next time,

XOXOX Jennifer Wu

Collecting Pledges for the Tan Free Grad

Windermere Tan Free Grad Leaders

Orange is a fruit, not a skin tone!

Jen, TIO Ambassadors, Tanning, Youth, March 16th, 2012

Youth Speak Out: Tanning Edition [video]

by Jen

Nowadays there’s so much from the media about the idea of unnaturally tanned skin. It’s being portrayed as “beautiful” and thus desirable, but the media fails to address the dangerous health risks and long-term consequences of tanning.

I think we can all agree that the last thing any of us needs is more pressure and unrealistic expectations to follow. Keep in mind that nothing is more beautiful than being confident in your own skin. True beauty comes from within and should never be defined by your skin tone. Never allow the media’s perception of unnatural tanned skin be your definition of beauty.

Here is a video that I made in which I asked various students from Windermere Secondary what their thoughts are about tanning.

The truth is, tanning is unsafe and the consequences of over exposure to UV rays can be deadly. Starting today, I challenge you to take the initiative to protect and embrace your skin!

Until next time,

Jennifer Wu

Jen, Tanning, Women's Health, January 24th, 2012

New Year, New You

By Jen

At the start of every year the common trend seems to be to make resolutions only to forget them by the end of the week. True, quitting smoking or tanning may not be the easiest things in the world, but it’s vital to highlight the benefits you would get from achieving your goals.

Make 2012 a year of health conscience moves, to love yourself and the skin that you’re in. Maybe you want to limit the amount of times you check yourself in the mirror or to stop obsessing over how “pale” you look. Whatever your resolution is, let 2012 be a year to focus on you.

Typically, I find girls my age (and some guys!) complaining about how they resemble an “Edward Cullen” vampire figure. Yes, I have to admit he may be a tad pale but hey, that doesn’t stop him being incredibly gorgeous and winning every girl’s heart out there, does it? My point is that, the tone of your skin doesn’t define you, your character does!

Too often we get caught up in the media and the idea that tanned skin is beautiful or essential. Yes, there may be a lot of products and services out there that seem tempting for that “quick fix” for that achieving that bronzy glow, but there are many dangers that result from tanning. According to the World Health Organization , any use of indoor tanning equipment before the age of 35 has been found to increase the risk of melanoma cancer by 75%!

Baby steps.

Okay, we might not be able to wake up looking as godly as a Victoria Secret model or as gorgeous as Ryan Goseling, but we are beautiful and amazing in our own way! Instead of dwelling on things we can’t change, let’s start loving the skin we’re in.

Everyone at some point will struggle with image issues. Being self conscience or not feeling good enough is common, but the way you deal with those insecurities depict how strong you really are. Sure, fake tans may grant you a temporary satisfaction of “beauty” but who are we kidding? You’re basically hiding your own skin and wearing some temporary shell that the media has advertised as a “healthy glow”. Self confidence begins with acceptance of one’s true self and grows when you embrace yourself, flaws and all.

Fact! : The effects of tanning are irreversible and once your skin colour changes, it’s damaged which can lead to premature aging and even skin cancer.

Stay Motivated and make a plan.

REPLACE “I want” with “I WILL”

Will 2012 be the year that you cut the tanning visits and replace it with a gym membership? Maybe you want to stay more focused, active, and take better care of your health. Whatever goals you have, jot it down, stick it beside that tempting chocolate bar, or even by your computer to remind yourself of what you’re fighting for!

Fact: Melanoma skin cancer is one of the most common forms of cancer for people between the ages of 15-29 and it’s mostly preventable.

Make 2012 a year about YOU ! Whether it be to fit into that bridesmaid dress by March, or to quit the salon tanning sessions. Have a game plan, make reminders of all the benefits and stay focused because you WILL get there! Overcome those insecurities and avoid the tanning bed and start embracing your natural glow! Own your skin , love yourself, and achieve your goals!

Feel free to comment below to share your goals for 2012!

Until next time,

XOXO Jennifer Wu

Jen, Tanning, November 11th, 2011

Fall/Winter Trends for a Confident Tan-Free You

Fall has finally arrived and with winter on it’s way there’s no question that the weather will no longer cooperate with our summer apparel. Although the days are beginning to get shorter and colder it doesn’t mean the sun has disappeared. Regardless of the temperature we all need to remember to stay UV safe. Although some of you may be tempted to visit the tanning salon you should also consider the irreversible effects of tanning. According to the Canadian Dermatology Association, as much as 90% of wrinkles and aging is directly caused by UV radiation. According to the Canadian Cancer Society, skin cancer is the most common type of cancer. Melanoma skin cancer is one of the most common cancers for people ages 15-29 and it is mostly preventable. Considering the irreversible effects of tanning, it’s vital to prioritize protecting the skin you’re in with the incentive of preventing the most common type of cancer.

What better way to avoid the damaging effects of tanning than to focus on feeling content in your own skin? Fashion is a great way to help highlight and enhance your natural glow. Note that fashion is subjective and is self-defined. Play with different patterns, colours, textures and fabrics until you find what works best for you. Remember that what you wear doesn’t define who you are, and neither should your skin tone. Your style is a self-expression and completely in your control. Skin damage from tanning beds on the other hand, may lead to a more damaging outcome. Remember that you are in the control of making your own choices!

Affordably stylish: Layering

Layering is a great opportunity to re-wear clothes that usually sit in the back of your closets desperately waiting to be worn. It’s also a cost-efficient alternative to slow down all you shop-a-holics out there and help you realize what you may already own!

V-necks, belts, cardigans, flannel shirts, hoodies, scarves, fitted coats

Layering offers a unique way to protect your skin from harmful UV rays as well as a stylish and affordable way to keep warm!

A simple layering technique involves a balance of pattern, texture and simplicity! Try pairing a simple white v-neck, plaid flannel, or warm overcoat with a cozy knitted scarf. The flannel keeps you warm enough to go with or without the coat indoors and adds personality to a seemingly “plain” outfit.

Chic twist to a summer favourite

Have some summer dresses lying around collecting dust? You can still rock these dresses and survive the chilly weather with enough layering.

For those sunny winter days, it’s still important to be protected from those unavoidable UV rays. Not to worry – you don’t have to hide yourself indoors on those bright sunny days – there’s hope! Protect your skin and stay warm. Try adding a classic fitted coat with any sleeveless dress, paired up with knee-high boots and stockings. Dresses can be versatile all year-round with the assistance of winter and fall gear. Textured stockings also help shield some of the chilly temperatures and contribute to UV protection.


Clouds and fog don’t offer complete protection from sun exposure. According to the Canadian Cancer Society, 80% of the sun’s rays can penetrate light clouds, mist and fog.

Loose fit sweaters

Another trend I’ve been infatuated with is the loose fitted sweater. So effortless, chic, and most importantly comfortable. Warmer fabrics such as wool are perfect for fall, as it does not require a lot of excess layers in order to keep warm. Whether you’re at school or at work, loose fitting sweaters are ideal if you are constantly on your feet and moving around!

*TIP The simpler your look is, the more opportunity to accessorize!

When it all comes down to it, why not rock the skin that you’re in?  Save that excess money on temporary tans and start investing in something that doesn’t fade away. This year’s fall/winter trends contain many staple items that can be worn often as they are very versatile. Change up your wardrobe and experiment with different patterns, colours and fabrics. Invest in what you can do to embrace your natural skin rather than spending money enhancing temporary and unhealthy solutions!

What’s YOUR fall/winter fashion necessity? Leave a comment below!

Until next time, keep embracing your natural skin tone and stay sun safe! 

XOXO Jennifer Wu

Layering (top left, top middle, top right; bottom left, bottom middle, bottom right);
Flannel (left, middle, right)
Chic twist to a summer favourite (left, right)
Loose fit sweaters (top left, top right; bottom left, bottom right)

Jen, Tanning, October 21st, 2011

Helpful Tips for Grad Pics

By Jen

Girls, we all know that fall tends to be the time of year with rarely any sun, meaning little chance of getting a last minute tan. In regards to grad photos, you may find yourself tempted to hit up the local tanning salon for a bake to give yourself colour to pair with your grad photo dress. Take caution and remember that there is no such thing as a safe tan. Indoor tanning poses extremely large dangers and can increase your risk of cancer! According to the World Health Organization, any use of indoor tanning equipment before the age of 35 has been found to increase the risk of melanoma by 75%!

Instead of the fake and bake routine here are some alternatives to the harmful process of tanning.

1) Dress colour: Yes! The colour of your dress CAN also give you that desired “glow” WITHOUT a false tan.

Choosing a lighter dress color compared to your skin can give you a natural and healthier way to boost your skin tone! If you’re concerned with paleness, try a brighter or lighter dress. The harsher the contrast between your dress to your skin can affect how tanned you appear! If you don’t want to look “washed out” in your pictures, consider the following color schemes.

I really adore off-white and cream coloured dresses because they’re simple yet elegant. The cutting on these dresses is superb, which makes for a more flattering neckline. Also, the simplicity of the dress allows your natural beauty to be the main statement. Dresses that are closer or brighter than your skin tone can really make a difference and enhance your natural beauty.


Yellow coloured dresses bring out such a healthy glow WITHOUT harmful tanning! So feminine and sweet, and ironically, yellow symbolizes sunlight! Yellow is definitely versatile in terms of variations from pale to bold tones, perfect to fit anyone’s skin tone! Yellow is a great way to stand out without looking washed out!

2) Scared of looking washed out? If you wear make-up, tweak it a bit! And no I’m not suggesting you cake on a bunch of fake bronzer, but to keep in mind a few key ideas.

Lips are the focal point of your face. If you fear looking washed out or vampire-like, skip the usual bold red and try a warmer or paler colour! The contrast between lip to face can really make a difference to your skin tone!


For Angie, the red lips are making her look super washed out! I love the dramatic lips, but the harsh contrast between her lip to skin colour is causing them to look extra pale!

Good job, Taylor! The mild coral lip colour really gives her signature natural beauty a healthy boost without taking over her face. This colour definitely suits her because it creates balance without the harsh contrast. Well done Taylor! You no longer look washed out.

Depending on your preferences or concerns, you may want to pick a shade closer to your skin tone with just a little colour. Also, keep in mind that the colour of your hair may contribute to how bold the lip colour may look. Remember that the less dramatic your lips are in your grad pictures, the more your natural beauty is showcased! Embrace your own skin, because make-up should enhance NOT cover up!

In conclusion, I’m sure we all have different tastes and preferences, some more extravagant than others. It’s important to keep in mind that the media’s portrayal of “tanned skin” can be deceiving. The idea that having a tan is “healthy” is a complete myth, because when your skin colour changes, it’s damaged and that can lead to premature aging and even skin cancer.

Never lose sight of the bigger picture. Beauty is truly only skin deep. Real beauty comes from within.

Photos: Neutral Dresses (top left/ top right/ bottom left/ bottom right); Yellow Dresses (left/ right); Lip Colour (Angelina Jolie/ Taylor Swift).