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Is salmon pink a shade of pink?

Is salmon pink a shade of pink?

Whether salmon pink is considered a shade of pink or its own distinct color is a nuanced question. While salmon pink contains tones of pink, it also has orange and peach hues that set it apart. Ultimately, there are good arguments on both sides, though many consider salmon pink to fall under the pink color family. Let’s take a closer look at this debate.

What is salmon pink?

Salmon pink is a pale pink-orange color that resembles the flesh of salmon. It sits between pink and peach on the color wheel, containing both rosy pink tones and warmer peach and orange tones. This mix gives salmon pink a softer, more muted quality than bright pink.

Some common terms used to describe salmon pink include coral, cantaloupe, salmony, and a mixture of pink and apricot. It’s considered a “pastel” color, meaning it has a soft, delicate appearance.

Salmon pink vs. regular pink

While salmon pink contains pink tones, there are some key differences between it and regular pink:

  • Pink is a brighter, bolder shade on the color wheel. Salmon pink is softer and more subdued.
  • Pink has no orange/peach tones. Salmon pink contains noticeable orange/peach hues.
  • Pink leans cooler in tone. Salmon pink is warmer with its orange undertones.
  • Pink pops more against dark colors. Salmon pink has lower contrast.

Below are some examples comparing pure pink against salmon pink. Notice salmon’s more muted, peachy quality:

Pink Salmon Pink

Is salmon pink a type of pink?

Whether salmon pink is considered a shade of pink or its own distinct color is debatable:

Arguments for salmon pink being a pink

  • Salmon pink contains noticeable pink tones in its makeup.
  • Many paint companies categorize salmon pink under their pink colors.
  • It’s sometimes called “light pink.”
  • “Salmony pink” implies it’s a pink variation.
  • Pink and salmon pink coordinate well together in fashion/design.

Since salmon pink clearly has pink in its DNA, many view it as simply a lighter, peachier pink rather than a standalone color.

Arguments against salmon pink as a pink

  • Orange, not pink, is the dominant hue in salmon pink.
  • Peach is the second most dominant hue, not pink.
  • It’s distinctly different from pure pink on the color wheel.
  • Salmon pink has very different color associations than pink.
  • Many classify it under peach or orange, not pink.

While salmon pink contains some pink, since its orange/peach tones overpower the pink, some say it cannot be considered a true pink variant. Rather, it’s viewed as its own unique color.

How salmon pink got its name

Salmon pink is named after the color of salmon flesh. Salmon flesh has a soft orange-pink color from astaxanthin, a natural pigment found in the crustaceans and algae that salmon eat. This distinct salmon hue lent the name to the lighter pink-orange color we know as salmon pink.

The first recorded use of “salmon pink” was in 1776. It grew in popularity as a color name in the late 1800s and early 1900s as synthetic salmon-colored dyes were developed. It became widely used in fashion.

Use of salmon pink

Some common uses and associations of salmon pink include:

  • Women’s fashion – lingerie, dresses
  • Baby clothes/nurseries
  • Makeup – lipstick, blush, eye shadow
  • Interiors – furniture, paint, tiles
  • Flowers – peonies, roses, carnations
  • Jewelry
  • Weddings
  • Easter decor

Salmon pink has a soft, feminine, romantic quality. However, it can also give a modern, energetic vibe in brighter settings. It’s extremely versatile in both women’s and men’s fashion.

Salmon pink color combinations

Salmon pink is easy to pair with other colors. Some popular color combinations include:

  • Salmon pink and cream – Sophisticated and elegant
  • Salmon pink and brown – Warm, earthy
  • Salmon pink and teal – Vibrant contrast
  • Salmon pink and sage green – Fresh springtime vibe
  • Salmon pink and navy – Nautical and preppy

Salmon pink also pairs beautifully with other pink shades, peach, coral, melon, mint, cyan, bronze, tan, gold, and rich purple.

Salmon vs. coral vs. peach

Because salmon pink sits between coral and peach on the color wheel, it’s often confused with those shades:

Salmon Pink Coral Peach
More muted and soft Brighter and bolder orange-red Contians more yellow
Pinkish orange Reddish orange Yellowish orange

While salmon, coral and peach are neighbors on the color wheel, salmon has a more subdued pink-orange hue compared to the brighter coral and more yellow peach.

Lighter and darker shades

Like other colors, salmon pink has both lighter and darker shades. A few examples:

Lighter salmon pink shades:

  • Blush pink
  • Ballerina pink
  • Desert sand

Darker salmon pink shades:

  • Coral
  • Melon
  • Terracotta

The lighter shades have more of a delicate blush tone. The darker shades get more orangey. But all retain that recognizable salmon pink vibe.


While opinions differ on whether salmon pink is a “true” pink or not, there’s no denying its pink undertones or its association with the pink family. Many designers and color experts consider it a lighter, softer variation of pink.

However, the dominance of salmon pink’s orange and peach tones means it’s also reasonable to view it as its own distinct color unrelated to pink. There’s room for both perspectives.

Regardless of whether it fits tidily into the pink bucket or not, salmon pink remains a beautiful, versatile color full of warmth and vibrancy. Its mix of pink, orange and peach gives it a playful, feminine energy that suits many different contexts and color palettes.