History of Neon Colors

Origin, History & Design Power of Neon Colors

Abhinav Girdhar
By Abhinav Girdhar | Last Updated on May 18th, 2024 7:56 am

Neon colors are also known as fluorescent colors and have a distinctive identity making them impossible to avoid. They're most commonly seen in signs, nail polish, and clothes. Additionally, vibrant shades like electric blue, fluorescent pink, and blue green are among the popular choices in this eye-catching palette. However, these beautiful bright colors have been in various trends for decades.

The new colors have existed for a few years, but you won't find them quickly. Let's go through the significance and history of neon colors, alongside other captivating shades, which are as unique and bright as the neon color itself.

If we talk about neon as a noun, it is a non-metallic material found in the air. It is commonly used in lasers and electric lamps. However, when it comes to adjectives, this means exceptionally bright. This is the most common definition of neon color, the kind of vivid hue that you might find when using an "Image Color Picker" tool, and it's a definition that people are familiar with.

Difference between Neon Colors and Fluorescent Colors

Fluorescent and Neon colors are commonly used to define the same type of colors. However, they do have their unique meanings. When it comes to making neon light colors and fluorescent lights, they differ slightly. For example, making neon lights involves noble gasses, whereas fluorescent lights use mercury vapor. And it is actually not a noble gas.

Difference Between Neon Colors and Fluorescent Colors

Fluorescent lights also help in protecting eyes from UV rays, whereas neon light colors aren't supposed to do that. It's because fluorescent lights are mostly only bright white, while neon light colors are associated with an extensive range of colors. Therefore, neon and fluorescent lights are used to define bright colors, but in terms of technicality, they're actually not interchangeable.

Why don't Neon Colors come under the Color Wheel?

Neon colors actually don't exist on the Color Wheel; these colors are different from primary and secondary colors. They are indeed the bright versions of them. That makes the neon colors challenging to use in prints, so they mostly appear in lights.

Different Types of Neon Colors

In more scientific terms, the gas element known as neon can only produce an orange-reddish color. However, the term 'neon' is used for ultra-bright hues comprehensively. Here's the list of the most common colors that come in the neon category, along with their hexadecimal codes:

  1. Green

    Green Neon Color
    • Neon Green- Hex code: #39FF14
    • UFO Green- Hex code: #7FFF00
    • Electric Lime- Hex code: #CCFF00
  2. Red

    Red Neon Color
    • Neon Red- Hex code: #FF3131
    • Electric Orange- Hex code: #FF5E00
  3. Yellow

    Yellow Neon Color
    • Neon Yellow- Hex code: #FFF01F
    • Absinthe- Hex code: #E7EE4F
    • Chartreuse Yellow- Hex code: #DFFF00
  4. Pink

    Pink Neon color
    • Neon Pink- Hex code: #FF44CC
    • Neon Magenta- Hex code: #EA00FF
    • Plastic Pink- Hex code: #FF1493
  5. Purple

    Purple Neon Color
    • Neon Purple- Hex code: #BC13FE
    • Proton Purple- Hex code: #8A2BE2
  6. Blue

    Blue Neon Color
    • Neon Blue- Hex code: #1F51FF
    • Electric Cyan- Hex code: #0FF0FC

Similar to any other color, neon colors have a few complementary colors like other complementary colors such as Red color and Green color, Blue color and Burnt Orange color, Bright Yellow color and Purple color. For instance, identical to regular orange and blue, neon electric orange and neon blue also complement each other. The same can also be said for neon purple and neon yellow.

What is the Meaning of Neon Color?

Like all primary and secondary colors, neon colors also have unique meanings. Nevertheless, most neon colors share a similar sense with their primary parent colors.

One of the best examples of this scenario is neon blue. Neon blue means tranquil and calm, just like all the shades of blue. Also, the meaning of neon pink is similar to the usual pink, i.e., playful and loving.

On the contrary, neon colors do not have an ordinary meaning in every case. Even in a few instances, all neon colors mean the same. People often recognize neon colors as frivolous, fun, and excessive, linking them to nightlife and clubs. If neon colors are alongside darker shades such as navy blue and black, then the meaning, as mentioned earlier, of neon colors is often considered to be true.

In a few cases, neon color is also a warning and danger. And for this reason, some clothes and signs have neon trimming to make them visible at night.

The History of Neon Colors

Neon colors appeared in the form of lights for the first time in 1910. However, the procedure of creating neon colors started in the early years of the 1800s. It was when Heinrich Geissler invented the sealed glass tubes through electric current. This resulted in glowing gasses inside into some vibrant colors.

History of Neon Colors

Furthermore, scientists Morris Travers and Sir William Ramsay 1898 invented a way to liquidize air and separate it into various parts. Twelve years later, an engineer named Georges Claude created a lamp with a neon glass tube, officially making him the inventor of neon colors. Georges Claude later distributed and sold those tubes, creating neon signs.

Since then, the usage of neon colors has expanded in various ways. Eventually, the color made it to clothes, posters, NFTs, artwork, and car lights.

The Role of Neon Color in Design

Though neon colors have lost their importance in recent years, they still play a significant role in design. They work pretty well as long as there's not too much usage of neon colors. Companies often use neon colors while advertising something to draw viewers' attention to a certain point in the design. In order to maximize neon color effects, everything else should be dull, and using simple colors is advised to contrast with neon colors.

Role of Neon Color in Design

Pop-ups of neon colors in art, signs, advertisements and furnishings could be very beneficial if not overwhelmingly used. Too large an amount could be unpleasant and distracting to the eyes. Thus, bits of neon colors here and there create attention-grabbing pieces. So, no matter if the neon colors are out of style, they will always have a special place in designs.

Some Tips for Using Neon Colors in Graphic Design

Neon colors can add a vibrant and eye-catching element to your graphic designs, instantly grabbing the viewer's attention and creating a sense of excitement. However, using neon colors effectively requires some thoughtful consideration to ensure that they enhance the overall design without overwhelming it. Here are some tips for using neon colors in graphic design:

  • When it comes to neon green, try to go for lime green. It helps in ennobling the dark background of any picture without overwhelming it. The green neon doesn't create the movement effect, primarily in all neon colors.
  • Make bold color statements. Try to use neon colors as your background with minimal usage of black text. This really works when you want to attract maximum users and quickly stand out.
  • Incorporate neon colors for branding. You can use your brand's elements in neon colors, such as logos, store signs, etc. while designing your website, social media accounts, or vlog. This helps create consistency and a positive brand image for the online presence of your business.
  • Try to use neon color accents. Following the rule of using dark backgrounds, you can use neon color elements on the interface parts that need to draw attention or stand out—those thin lines on the picture of your product help emphasize the benefits. The buttons should not remain invisible and decorative accents should not leave any aesthetic lover indifferent.
  • Try to make your colors glow. You can add a subtle glowing effect of neon color elements, especially in animations that smoothly move against any dark background. Also, it helps in making your design look attractive, mysterious, and cozy.
  • Use neon color imagery. Creating neon color pictures is a win-win situation in order to stand out from the ordinary. Some great ideas include models with phosphorescent eye shadow or lipstick, neon color cups or other dishes for a restaurant brand, or medical devices to help relieve children's fear of going to hospitals.


Neon colors nowadays may not be as trendy as in the early 1800s; however, they come in all kinds and shapes. Neon makeup, nail polish, clothes, and hair dye are still there. Though these cheerful colors are not the norm for styling, they help you stand out.

To learn more about how you can use neon colors in graphic design, you need to sign up for our Appy Pie's Graphic Design Software, you can access numerous designing tools that are very easy to use and don't require any prior design experience. So, put your stakes high and sign up today. Then, click on the link below!

How to create your Color Palette with Appy Pie's Color Wheel?

Let’s look at how you can use Appy Pie’s Color Wheel to create the right palette for your website, office, banner, or brand marketing material.

  1. Choose a color On the color picker, choose the color you want to build your palette by either entering the HTML color code in the first field or simply clicking on the desired color on the wheel. Then, you can click and drag the dot till you are happy with the color.

  2. Choose the type of color combination There are six different types (harmonies) that you can choose from – complementary, monochromatic, analogous, triadic, tetradic, or pentadic. However, for the creative souls, there is also an option to select a custom combination.

  3. Check out the results Once you have chosen the color combination you like, you will have the entire palette at the bottom to observe how they interact. In addition, you can get the exact HTML color codes for all the colors in the color palette so you can use the precise combination on your piece of design.

Related Articles

Abhinav Girdhar

Founder and CEO of Appy Pie