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Is periwinkle blue warm or cool?

Is periwinkle blue warm or cool?

Periwinkle blue is a light pastel shade of blue that has hints of purple or lavender. It falls somewhere between warm and cool on the color temperature scale. When deciding if periwinkle blue leans warm or cool, there are a few key factors to consider:

The Undertones

The undertones of a color refer to subtle hints of other colors that affect the overall temperature. Periwinkle blue has both blue and purple undertones. The blue undertone lends a cooler effect, while the purple tone adds warmth. The combination creates a complex color that is not distinctly warm or cool.

Comparison to Primary Colors

Looking at how periwinkle blue relates to the warm and cool primary colors can provide more clarity. The primary cool colors are blue, green and violet. Periwinkle contains some blue, connecting it to the cool side. But it also possesses hints of red-violet, which is a warmer secondary color. Overall, periwinkle blue seems to fall somewhere in the middle.

Use of Complementary Colors

The appearance of periwinkle blue can shift depending on what colors it is paired with. Its complementary color is a warm yellow-orange. When surrounded by its complement, periwinkle blue takes on a cooler effect because of the contrast. Placing it next to cool greens and blues makes the periwinkle appear warmer in comparison.

Lighting Conditions

The lighting that periwinkle blue is viewed under also impacts whether it looks warm or cool. Under warmer, yellow-toned light, the blue undertones recede and the purple warmth comes forward. The opposite occurs under white or blue-hued light – the purple fades back and the color seems cooler.

Textile Appearance

The texture and sheen of textiles dyed in periwinkle blue affects its temperature as well. Matte, flat fabrics make the color appear warmer. Conversely, satiny or metallic periwinkle fabrics look cooler and more icy. The fuzziness of velvet also cools the tone.

Comparison to Skin Tone

When decorating with periwinkle blue, interior designers sometimes compare it to skin tone to determine if it will create a warm or cool impression. Next to fair, pinkish skin, periwinkle can seem cooler in contrast. Against darker, yellow-olive skin, it typically appears warmer.

Psychology of Color

The psychological effects ascribed to periwinkle blue can provide clues to its warm or cool essence. Blue is thought to evoke feelings of calmness, tranquility and loyalty – all cool color traits. The hint of purple elicits sense of spirituality, mystery and imagination – qualities with warmer overtones. This combines both cool and warm attributes.

Cultural Color Associations

Looking at the symbolic color meanings in different cultures sheds some light on the warm-cool debate. In China, blue is associated with immortality, wisdom and faith – all cool meanings. But purple symbolizes nobility and luxury in Europe, giving it a warmer feel. Periwinkle straddles these cool and warm associations.

Geographical Region

Geographical region can influence the perception of periwinkle blue as warm or cool. In cooler climates, it will likely read as a warmer color. In tropical zones nearer to the equator, the blue undertones may come across as cooler against a warm backdrop.

Gender Coding

The traditional gender coding of colors also impacts their warm/cool classification. Blue is frequently viewed as a masculine, cooler tone. Purple has feminine, warmer connotations. Periwinkle blue occupies a middle ground between the two.


While opinions vary, periwinkle blue appears to fall somewhere between warm and cool on the color analysis spectrum. Its hints of both blue and purple, and its ability to shift between warmer and cooler depending on lighting and context, place it in an intermediate position. But most assessments indicate periwinkle leans slightly toward the cooler side, thanks to its blue undertones.