Skip to Content

Can purple be a warm color?

Can purple be a warm color?

Purple is a color that evokes mystery, creativity, and imagination. Often considered a “royal” color, purple connotes luxury, ambition, and power. But when it comes to color theory, purple’s categorization is more complex. Unlike clearly warm colors like red and orange or cool colors like blue and green, purple seems to straddle the line between warm and cool. So can purple be a warm color? The answer is yes, under certain conditions purple can take on a warm, inviting feeling.

The Color Wheel

To understand purple’s temperature, it helps to look at a basic color wheel. The color wheel arranges colors by hue in a circular format. It’s a useful tool for understanding color relationships. The color wheel shows that purple sits between red and blue. Red, orange, and yellow are considered warm colors, while blue, green, and violet are considered cool colors. Purple contains aspects of both warm red and cool blue.

Color Temperature

Color temperature refers to how warm or cool a color appears. It’s a subjective feeling but generally relates to associations with nature. Warm colors like red, orange and yellow evoke sunlight, fire, and heat. Cool colors like blue, green and violet evoke water, ice, and the sky. Purple’s color temperature depends on which side of the spectrum it leans towards. Red-violet purple feels warmer, while blue-violet purple feels cooler.

Context and Usage

Purple’s warmth also depends on context and usage. Here are some factors that can make purple feel warm:

Shade and Tint

Adding white to purple produces a tint, while adding black produces a shade. Lighter tints of purple often feel warmer, while darker shades feel cooler. Light purples remind us of things like lavender and lilac.

Adjacent Colors

The colors surrounding purple impact its temperature. Placing purple next to warm colors like red, peach or yellow makes it feel warmer through comparison. Adjacent cool colors like blue, green and neutrals make it feel cooler.


Warm lighting that casts a yellow, orange or pink glow can make purple feel warmer. Cool lighting like fluorescent or daylight makes purple feel cooler. Candlelight and sunsets warm up purple’s tone.

Warm Purple Color Palette

Here is a color palette of warm purples:

Color Name Hex Code
Lavender Web #E6E6FA
Lavender Blush #FFF0F5
Thistle #D8BFD8
Orchid #DA70D6
Plum #DDA0DD
Medium Purple #9370DB
Pale Violet Red #DB7093
Deep Pink #FF1493
Hot Pink #FF69B4

These purples lean towards pink and red tones, giving them a warmer, more inviting feeling. They are frequently used in cosmetics, interiors and fashion.

Cool Purple Color Palette

Here are some cooler shades of purple:

Color Name Hex Code
Purple #800080
Indigo #4B0082
Dark Slate Blue #483D8B
Dark Violet #9400D3
Dark Orchid #9932CC
Medium Slate Blue #7B68EE
Slate Blue #6A5ACD
Blue Violet #8A2BE2
Dark Magenta #8B008B

These purples contain more blue tones, making them feel cooler and more elegant. They are widely used in creative fields and marketing.

Warm and Cool Purple Together

Including both warm and cool purples together creates visual interest and depth. The contrast highlights the nuances in purple tones. Using purples across the temperature spectrum also increases versatility.

For example, pairing a warm light purple with a cool dark purple grounds the scheme. Or using a cool purple as an accent on a warm purple base adds a pop of contrast. Playing with different purple hues, saturations and shades allows for innovative, exciting color combinations.

Psychology of Purple

The psychological effects of purple also depend on its temperature. Here’s an overview:

Warm Purples

– Energizing
– Playful
– Comforting
– Romantic
– Soothing

Cool Purples

– Sophisticated
– Luxurious
– Mysterious
– Creative
– Contemplative

Examples of Warm Purple

Warm shades of purple are widely used to evoke positive, feel-good vibes. Here are some examples:

Lavender Fields

Lavender’s soft purple flowers growing in idyllic fields create a peaceful, comforting scene. The warmth of the color connects to nature.


Light purples like lilac create cozy, welcoming interiors full of charm. Using purple as an accent color also warms up any room.


During colorful sunsets, the sky often turns warm shades of orange, pink and purple. These vibrant, natural purples feel energizing.


Warm purple foods like plums, figs, grapes, and eggplant elicit appetites and convey ripe freshness. The purple hue is appealing and mouthwatering.


In fashion, warm purples like orchid and pansy evoke springtime and femininity. Used in accessories, makeup and clothing, these purples are playful.

Examples of Cool Purple

Cooler shades of purple convey sophistication and creative flair. Here are some examples:

Night Skies

Deep cool purples are reminiscent of the night sky, stars, and galaxies. This instills a sense of vastness and imagination.


In artistic expression like painting and photography, cool purples represent creativity, innovation, and moodiness.


Flowers like lavender and iris contain both warm and cool shades of purple, contrasting and highlighting each other.


Cool-toned purples are commonly used in eye shadows, lipsticks and nail polishes to create an edgy, dramatic effect.


Major companies like Yahoo, Taco Bell, and Hallmark use various cool purple shades in their logos to stand out.


While purple sits between warm and cool colors, shades containing more pink, red or blue influence its temperature. Factors like lighting, adjacent colors and saturation also impact whether purple appears warm or cool. Warm purples project comfort and energy, while cool purples feel sophisticated and creative. Both temperature extremes have unique aesthetics and evoke different moods. Ultimately, purple’s versatility and balance between warm and cool makes it a dynamic, useful color. By harnessing purple’s full range, designers and artists can achieve bold, beautiful results.