Color can be a complex topic. When comparing different shades and hues, it’s not always straightforward to determine which one is “darker” or “lighter.” In this article, we’ll take an in-depth look at tan and beige to see how they compare on the color spectrum.
Defining Tan and Beige
First, let’s start with some definitions. Tan and beige are often used interchangeably, but they refer to slightly different shades:
- Tan is a pale brown color, like the skin of someone who has been tanned by the sun. It has yellowish, orangey undertones.
- Beige is a very light brown color with more grayish undertones. It’s often described as a pale sand color.
So while quite similar, tan leans more brown and orange, while beige is a softer, more subtle neutral shade.
Comparing Tan and Beige
Now let’s directly compare tan and beige. Here’s a look at how they stack up:
|Tan||Slightly darker||Yellow, orange|
As you can see, tan is considered slightly darker than beige. The yellow/orange undertones give it more pigmentation than beige’s subtle grayish tone.
Viewing Tan and Beige on the Color Spectrum
Another way to compare these shades is to see where they fall on the color spectrum. Here is an approximate spectrum showing tan and beige’s positions:
This illustrates that beige is closer to white, while tan falls closer to brown. Beige is a very pale neutral, while tan has more color saturation.
Comparing Lightness Values
Another way to compare shades is by looking at their lightness values on a scale of 0 (black) to 100 (white). Here are common lightness values for tan and beige:
Beige’s lightness value ranges from 92-96, while tan’s is around 75-80. The higher the lightness value, the lighter the color. This confirms that beige is lighter than tan.
Common Uses and Associations
Now that we’ve compared tan and beige, let’s look at some of their common uses and color associations:
|Tan||Shoes, leather, fall clothing||Earthy, warm, inviting|
|Beige||Walls, bedding, neutral backgrounds||Soft, subtle, calm|
Tan’s warmth makes it popular for leather, shoes, and autumnal colors. Beige’s subtle neutrality allows it to blend into backgrounds. Their associations reflect these uses.
Comparing Tan and Beige Paints
If you’re looking to compare actual tan and beige paint colors, there are a few options. Here are some of the most popular tan and beige paints:
|Brand||Tan Paint||Beige Paint|
|Benjamin Moore||Tanbark OC-61||Chantilly Lace OC-65|
|Sherwin Williams||Russet SW 7076||Accessible Beige SW 7036|
|Behr||Chocolate Truffle PPU18-13||Linen White PPU1-1|
You can see that tan paints like Tanbark or Russet have those warm, brownish-orange undertones. The beige paints like Chantilly Lace and Linen White are much cooler and grayer.
Interior Paint Colors
When choosing interior paint colors, both tan and beige can create soothing, neutral environments. Here are some tips for using them in your home:
- Tan – Best for dens, offices, and dining rooms. Creates a cozy, inviting feel.
- Beige – Most versatile neutral. Works well in any room, especially bedrooms and living areas.
- Pair tan with blues and greens to create an earthy color scheme.
- Pair beige with bolder accent colors since it won’t compete visually.
Whether you prefer the warmth of tan or the subtle neutrality of beige, you can use either shade effectively in your home’s interior.
Textile and Fashion Colors
For textiles and fashion, tan and beige are common neutral shades. Here are some examples of how they are used:
|Tan||Belts, leather goods, sued shoes|
|Beige||T-shirts, linen clothing, twill pants|
Tan’s boldness makes it ideal for accessories like belts and leather bags. Beige is commonly used for clothing like shirts, pants, and jackets.
In makeup, tan and beige are popular shades for eyeshadows, lipsticks, and face powders. Here are some examples:
|Tan||Bronzers, contour powders|
|Beige||Highlighters, nude lipsticks|
Warm tan shades add color for bronzing and contouring. Beige works for more subtle highlighting and lip colors.
Decorating with Tan and Beige
Tan and beige both work beautifully in home decor. Here are some tips for integrating them into your decor:
- Use tan in moderation – as accent walls or smaller decor pieces
- Beige can be used abundantly – paint entire rooms or buy full beige furniture sets
- Add textures like wood grains and woven accents to warm up beige
- Choose rich woods like walnut and leather with tan
Both shades create tranquil, welcoming spaces. Tan is bold enough for accents, while beige can become the main neutral. Add layers of texture and natural materials to give depth.
Tans and Beiges Found in Nature
Some examples of tan and beige found in nature include:
|Sandstone cliffs||Beach sand|
|Deer hides||Mushroom caps|
|Clay soil||Sea shells|
|Tree bark||Buttercream flowers|
Tans like sandstone, deer, and clay reflect the warmer, earthy side of nature. Beiges like sand, shells, and mushrooms embody the delicate neutrals found outdoors.
Geographic Locations with Tan and Beige Landscapes
Some parts of the world are known for tan or beige landscapes. For example:
- Tan: The Australian Outback, Sahara Desert, American Southwest
- Beige: French and Italian Countryside, Beaches of Hawaii, Greek Islands
Arid, rugged regions like deserts and canyons showcase striking tan tones. Soft beiges appear in idyllic countryside settings and island paradises.
Cultural and Historical Use of Tan and Beige
Historically, tan and beige have carried different cultural symbolism:
- Tan symbolized humble earthiness, peasants, monks, Native Americans
- Beige was more elite, symbolizing luxury, wealth, refinement
This is likely because tan’s orange undertones connected it to earth and simpleness. Beige’s subtle neutrality made it seem cultured and exclusive.
Use of Tan and Beige in Fine Art
In fine art, tan and beige convey different moods:
|Tan||Conveys warmth, earthiness, autumn|
|Beige||Conveys softness, delicacy, tranquility|
Tan shades add a rustic, welcoming feel. Beige sets a tone of subtle calmness and gentle charm.
In summary, while tan and beige are similar neutral colors, tan is slightly darker with warm orange undertones. Beige is lighter with subtle gray undertones. Tan is bold and earthy, evoking fall leaves and clay. Beige is more delicate and elegant, the color of subtle backgrounds and peaceful settings. Both can create relaxing, welcoming environments. Just keep in mind that tan has more visual presence, while beige recedes gently into the background.
Understanding their unique traits allows you to use tan and beige effectively to enhance everything from interior design to fine art. So next time you come across these timeless neutral shades, you’ll know exactly how to distinguish tan from beige.