Introduction to HSL Colors

HSL (Hue, Saturation, Lightness) is a color model that describes colors based on their hue, saturation, and lightness values. It provides an easy way to represent and change colors in web development.

The HSL color model has several advantages over other models like RGB (Red, Green, Blue) and Hex. HSL is more intuitive and easier to understand as it aligns with how humans see color. By adjusting the hue, saturation, and lightness values, you can create many colors and control their look.

Another advantage of using HSL is its flexibility in creating color variations. By keeping the hue constant and adjusting the saturation and lightness values, you can generate different shades of the same color. This is useful when designing color schemes or creating visual hierarchies in your web pages.

HSL also allows for dynamic color manipulation. With JavaScript, you can modify the hue, saturation or lightness values to create transitions or respond to user interactions. This opens up possibilities for creating engaging user experiences.

Browser support for HSL is good. All modern web browsers including Chrome, Firefox, Safari and Edge have supported HSL colors for a long time. Even older versions of these browsers have had support for HSL which means you can use it in your projects without worrying about compatibility issues.

Example of HSL Color

color: hsl(120, 100%, 50%);

This code sets the color to a bright green using HSL values.

Example of Dynamic HSL Manipulation = `hsl(${hue}, ${saturation}%, ${lightness}%)`;

This JavaScript code dynamically changes the color of an element using HSL.

HSL Syntax and Usage


Hue represents the base color or the position on the color wheel, ranging from 0 to 360 degrees. It determines the main color of the final result.

In HSL, hue is specified as an angle value followed by "deg" or as a number without a unit.

Hue Examples

hsl(0, 100%, 50%)   /* Red */
hsl(120deg, 100%, 50%)   /* Green */
hsl(240, 100%, 50%)   /* Blue */

Here are some examples of different hue values and their corresponding colors:

  • 0 or 360: Red
  • 60: Yellow
  • 120: Green
  • 180: Cyan
  • 240: Blue
  • 300: Magenta

By changing the hue value, you can select different base colors from the color wheel.


Saturation represents how pure the color is, ranging from 0% to 100%. A saturation of zero results in a grayscale color, while full saturation represents pure color.

In HSL, saturation is specified as a percentage value.

Saturation Examples

hsl(120, 0%, 50%)   /* Grayscale */
hsl(120, 50%, 50%)   /* Less saturated green */
hsl(120, 100%, 50%)   /* Fully saturated green */

Here are some examples of different saturation values and their effects:

  • 0% : Grayscale (no color)
  • 25% : Muted
  • 50% : Moderately saturated
  • 75% : Vibrant
  • 100% : Fully saturated

Adjusting saturation allows you to control how intense and vivid it looks.


Lightness represents how bright it looks, ranging from 0% to 100%. A lightness of zero results in black, while 100% results in white. A lightness of 50% represents normal.

In HSL, lightness is specified as a percentage.

Lightness Examples

hsl(120, 100%, 0%)   /* Black */
hsl(120, 100%, 25%)   /* Dark green */
hsl(120, 100%, 50%)   /* Normal green */
hsl(120, 100%, 75%)   /* Light green */
hsl(120, 100%, 100%)   /* White */

Here are some examples of different lightness values and their effects :

  • 0% : Black
  • 25% : Dark shade
  • 50% : Normal
  • 75% : Light shade
  • 100% : White

By modifying the lightness value, you can make shades darker or lighter, creating different shades and tints.

Using HSL in HTML

HSL colors can be applied to HTML elements to style their appearance. There are multiple ways to use HSL in HTML, including inline styles, internal CSS, and external CSS files.

To apply an HSL color to an HTML element using inline styles, you can use the style attribute and set the desired property to the HSL color value.

Inline Styles Example

<p style="color: hsl(240, 100%, 50%);">This text is in a bright blue color.</p>

The <p> element's text color is set to a bright blue using the HSL color hsl(240, 100%, 50%) directly within the style attribute.

You can also use HSL colors in internal CSS by placing the CSS rules inside a <style> tag in the <head> section of your HTML document.

Internal CSS Example

    h1 {
      background-color: hsl(120, 80%, 70%);
    .highlight {
      color: hsl(60, 100%, 50%);
  <h1>This heading has a light green background.</h1>
  <p class="highlight">This paragraph has a bright yellow text color.</p>

The <h1> element's background color is set to light green using hsl(120, 80%, 70%), and elements with the class "highlight" have their text color set to bright yellow using hsl(60, 100%, 50%).

You can also use HSL colors in external CSS files. Create a separate CSS file and link it to your HTML document using the <link> tag in the <head> section. In this file, you can define styles using HSL colors.

External CSS Example

/* styles.css */
body {
  background-color: hsl(200, 60%, 90%);
.button {
  background-color: hsl(240, 100%, 70%);
  color: hsl(0, 0%, 100%);
  <link rel="stylesheet" href="styles.css">
  <button class="button">Click me!</button>

The body element's background color is set to light blue using hsl(200, 60%, 90%), and elements with the class button have their background color set to bright blue using hsl(240, 100%, 70%), and their text color set to white using hsl(0, 0%, 100%).

HSL Color Picker and Tools

When working with HSL colors, there are various online tools and resources to help you pick the right colors and convert between different color models.

Online HSL color pickers provide an easy way to select and adjust HSL colors. These tools often have sliders or input fields for entering hue, saturation, and lightness values. As you make changes, the selected color is shown in real-time.

Some popular online HSL color pickers include:

  • Adobe Color: Offers an intuitive HSL color picker with sliders and a color wheel.
  • HSL Color Picker by Google: A simple and user-friendly tool.
  • CSS Gradient: Allows you to create HSL colors and gradients with a visual interface.

These tools also provide the corresponding CSS code for the selected HSL color, making it easy to copy and use in your projects.

There are also tools available for converting between HSL and other color models like RGB and Hex. These tools are useful when you need to work with colors in different formats or when integrating with existing schemes.

Some conversion tools include:

  • ColorHexa: Converts HSL colors to RGB, Hex, and other formats.
  • RapidTables HSL to RGB Converter: Provides a simple interface for converting values.
  • W3Schools' Converter: Converts colors to their Hex equivalents.

These tools make it easy to convert colors between different models so you can work seamlessly with them in your projects.

Another useful resource is palette generators. These help you create harmonious schemes based on values. By selecting a base color or providing values, these generators create palettes of matching colors.

Some palette generators include:

  • Coolors: Generates palettes based on values allowing customization.
  • Paletton: Offers an advanced designer with various harmony options.
  • Google's Generator: Creates palettes based on values providing CSS snippets.

These tools are great for exploring combinations creating appealing designs using these colors.

Example of Using an Online Picker

  1. Visit the Adobe Color website (
  2. Select "H" from the model dropdown.
  3. Use sliders to adjust hue, saturation, lightness values.
  4. Copy generated CSS code for selected value.
  5. Use this value in your HTML or CSS code.

By using online pickers, conversion tools, and palette generators, you can easily work with these colors and convert between models, creating appealing schemes for web projects.

Practical Examples and Use Cases

HSL colors offer a flexible way to create appealing designs in web development. Let's look at some practical examples and use cases where HSL is useful.

Creating gradients with HSL adds depth and interest to elements. By using HSL values and the CSS linear-gradient() or radial-gradient() functions, you can create smooth color transitions.

HSL Gradient Example

.gradient-button {
  background-image: linear-gradient(to right, hsl(0, 100%, 50%), hsl(60, 100%, 50%));

This code creates a button with a gradient background that transitions from red to yellow.

By adjusting the hue, saturation, and lightness values within the gradient, you can achieve many color combinations and effects.

HSL also enables dynamic color changes with JavaScript. By modifying the hue, saturation, or lightness values programmatically, you can create interactive color changes based on user actions or other events.

Dynamic HSL Manipulation Example

const element = document.getElementById('dynamic-color');
let hue = 0;

function updateColor() { = `hsl(${hue}, 100%, 50%)`;
  hue = (hue + 1) % 360;


This JavaScript code dynamically changes the background color of an element by incrementing the hue value over time.

By combining HSL with JavaScript, you can create engaging and interactive color experiences on your web pages.

Implementing color themes using HSL is another practical use case. By defining a base hue value for your theme and adjusting the saturation and lightness values, you can create a consistent color scheme throughout your website.

Color Theme Example

:root {

.primary-color {


This code defines CSS custom properties for primary and secondary colors using HSL values. By updating these values,you can easily switch between different themes.

Using HSL for themes allows you to maintain a consistent look across your website while making global adjustments easily.

These are just a few examples of how HSL colors can be used in practical scenarios.

Browser Compatibility and Fallbacks

HSL colors have good browser support, but it's still important to consider compatibility and provide fallbacks for older browsers.

All modern web browsers, including Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge, have supported HSL colors for a long time. This means that you can use HSL in your projects without worrying about compatibility issues in most cases.

If you need to support older browsers or want a consistent experience for all users, you can provide fallback colors. Fallback colors are alternative color values used when a browser doesn't support HSL.

One way to provide fallback colors is by using the CSS rgb() function alongside the hsl() function. The rgb() function is more widely supported than hsl(), so it can serve as a fallback for older browsers.

Fallback Color Example

.example {
  color: rgb(128, 0, 128); /* Fallback color for older browsers */
  color: hsl(300, 100%, 25%); /* Preferred HSL color */

Another technique for providing fallbacks is to use CSS feature queries. Feature queries allow you to conditionally apply styles based on whether a browser supports a particular CSS feature like HSL.

Feature Query Example

.example {
  color: rgb(128, 0, 128); /* Fallback color */

@supports (color: hsl(0, 0%, 0%)) {
 .example {
    color: hsl(300, 100%, 25%); /* HSL Color */

The need for fallbacks is decreasing as browser support improves. If you have specific requirements or many users with old browsers, providing fallbacks helps keep things consistent.

To check the level of browser support, you can refer to compatibility tables like These resources give detailed information about various CSS features, including HSL.