Having oily skin and trying to make it look good at all times is a true challenge. Those of you who, like me, have such, will agree. Before I started using certain skincare products and paying close attention to the condition of my skin, I was also on the list of people who used to wake up with a face drenched in oil. I constantly felt discomfort and struggled to control the shine – why is my face oily when I wake up in the morning? Is it what I’m eating the day before? Is it a specific product that I put? I dug deep into the matter and found some interesting information. It turned out that I’m not the only one with this problem and a lot of people share that their face is oily upon waking up. So why is that? Let’s find out.

Why do you wake up with oily skin?

There is more than one explanation for the question “why is my face so oily when I wake up”, I want to start with the biological reasons.

No matter your skin type, you’ve probably noticed that your skin tends to be more oily in the morning than it is during the day or before you go to bed.


In a nutshell, the body works to prevent dehydration in the facial area by creating more sebum (the skin’s natural oil).

There are sebaceous glands all over the body and they store debris and fats like cholesterol, triglyceride, squalene, and wax ester. The sebum gland releases secretion close to the hair follicles, which we see in the form of oil. The skin’s surface then creates an oily film to support the elasticity of the skin and offer hydration.

So in short, the sebum produced in our sleep is meant to replenish and moisturize our skin.

Naturally, the sebaceous glands are meant to slow down during the night.

However, while you’re sleeping, your body may lose water through the epidermis as it’s not as protected by the greasy layer of sebum. Because of this reason precisely, the body loses precious water and triggers the sebum glands to excrete more.

The sebum created during the night may not be a problem for some people as they wake up, clean their faces, and get on with their day. However, it could become a problem for those who are in search of answers and solutions. If my face is oily when I wake up, I’d certainly want to dig deeper into the reasons and I’m sure you would too. So let’s get to the bottom of it.

10 Causes for waking up with oily skin

Causes to wake up with an oily face and skin

Here is a detailed list of the reasons ‌your face could be oily in the morning.

1. Your night skincare routine the previous night

Not all skin types are created the same. The reality is that your evening skincare routine can play a trick on you if it’s not chosen wisely, or if you have decided to pamper it more than usual.

Using aggressive skincare products with high concentrations of alcohol can strip away all of the useful oils from the skin.

As a result, when you go to bed with no layer of moisture to protect the skin, the sebum glands will work overtime to restore hydration and create more oil.

When you wake up in the morning, you’re likely to have an overly oily face.

2. Excess sebum on your face

The other extreme is also a valid reason. When there’s too much sebum on the skin, oiliness is unavoidable.

Although sebum is a substance that is there to protect and shield the skin’s moisture, it could also make the face look shiny and greasy when it’s too much. Certainly, a look that no one is after.

Not to mention that too much sebum can also bring up problems with blackheads, acne, and a ton of other unwanted guests.

3. Genetics

This may come as a surprise to some, but the truth is that your face could be oily in the morning because of genetics.

Overactive sebaceous glands sometimes run in the family and if your parents or grandparents experienced such problems, chances are that you will too.

In this case, your options are to adopt a specific skincare routine to solve the problem. Or just accept that it is what it is.

4. Your age and the climate you live in

Factors like your age and the environment in which you live can also play a crucial role when it comes to how oily your skin is in the morning.

Hot climates are mostly associated with oily skin as the humidity stimulates your sebaceous glands to create more sebum.

Personally speaking, I often suffer from an extra oily face in the morning during the summer months. I live near a beach, so humidity is always a huge factor in my skin condition.

Furthermore, teenagers are more exposed to oily skin in the morning simply because of hormones.

5. Room temperature and sweat

Your sweat glands are another explanation for oily skin in the morning. A certain type of sweat gland, the Eccrine, secretes sweat via the skin’s top layer. The sweat is then mixed in with the sebum, which results in extra lipids and fats, and more oil as a result. The end result is a thick layer on the surface of the skin.

6. Over-cleaning your face

Believe it or not, over-washing your face can harm sebum production.

Yes, it’s essential to wash your face properly and regularly, but be careful about how often you do it and how aggressive your cleansers are.

Products that are not suitable for your skin type can strip your skin of all oils, forcing the glands to produce more to restore balance.

The more often you clean, the more oil the skin will produce. It’s a vicious cycle.

7. Bad diet and dehydration

Your water consumption and intake of certain foods also play a role when it comes to how oily your face will appear in the morning.

For instance, foods rich in water can retain the body’s hydration, but those rich in sugar stimulate the production of a hormone called androgen.

More androgen leads to the production of more sebum, which means more oily skin in the morning.

And alcohol is a huge culprit behind skin dehydration. Have you noticed that after a good night out your face is oily the next morning? That’s why.

8. Not enough hydration

When the body is not well-hydrated, the sebum glands are stimulated to work harder to produce more oil and compensate for the lack of moisture.

This ultimately results in excess oil on the facial area in the morning.

Drinking plenty of water during the day can help prevent this and restore the balance in your sebaceous glands. Applying a good moisturizer is also a must.

9. Stress

Stress and anxiety are destructive to the whole body, but they also play a role in sebum production.

When the body is overly stressed, oil production increases as a result of changes in the hormonal balance.

Calming your mind and body down via methods like meditation or relaxation practices can help you to omit some of the shiny effects that you’re used to seeing on your face when you wake up.

Consider exercises as a form of relaxation – good for the body, mind, and the skin.

10. Medication

Last but not least, oily skin in the morning could stem from certain medications that you’re taking, like oral contraceptives, hormone replacement drugs, steroids, and more.

These drugs are found to have a direct influence on the skin’s oil-producing capabilities and can affect how oily your skin appears, especially in the morning.

How to avoid waking up with an oily face?

Ways to avoid waking up with oily face

Now that you know what causes oily skin in the morning, you’re probably eager to find a solution and get rid of this problem for good.

Let’s see what you can do.

Adopt a suitable face cleaning routine

I mentioned that cleaning your face too often and with strong and aggressive products is not a good idea if you’re noticing extra oiliness on your skin in the morning.

One thing you could do is change your face cleansing routine and adapt it to your specific skin type.

Make sure to wash your face twice daily – in the morning and in the evening before you go to bed. Even if you feel some extra oiliness during the day, don’t wash your face again as this could trigger the sebum glands to overproduce.

I suggest using lukewarm water instead of hot water. Hot water could cause dryness and skin irritation. Also, get rid of any harsh products that could be drying your skin and find a gentle cleanser that is suitable for your skin type.

Back in the days when I suffered from oily face in the mornings, I made sure to change the cleanser and moisturizer to more appropriate for the season. So, I switched my CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser  which I used in winter, to CeraVe Foaming Facial Cleanser for the summer.

And I also swapped my creamy moisturizer for a product with a gelly consistency that is more suitable for oily skin. This made all the difference for my oily face in the mornings.

Choose your moisturizer wisely

Another reason for oily skin in the morning is not enough hydration. You can solve this by choosing a suitable moisturizer.

Even if your skin is oily, a moisturizer is a must so that the sebum glands don’t create too much oil while you sleep.

I’d say that choosing an oil-free moisturizer is your best option. Also, try to stay away from cold creams or lotions designed for makeup removal. They usually leave behind an oily film on the skin that you don’t want.

Improve your diet

Next up, pay attention to what you eat and drink. Your food intake can make a dramatic difference when it comes to your skin’s oil production.

Adjust your diet to make sure that you’ve reduced your sugar consumption. I also recommend trying to avoid dairy products and refined carbohydrates. At least to see if it will have an effect.

Research suggests that they can irritate the skin and cause oily skin conditions.

It’s best to center your diet around natural foods like fruits and vegetables, eggs, meat, and the like.

Decrease your alcohol consumption and start drinking smartly when you do – with lots of water intake before, during, and after a night out.

Get enough sleep and avoid stress when possible

I know that life can’t always be stress-free. However, you can make an effort to stay relaxed and calm by getting enough sleep, organizing your daily routine, and being prepared for every situation.

Avoiding stress and getting enough sleep will prevent excess production of androgen and therefore keep sebum production levels balanced.

You can opt for stress-relieving activities like meditation, spending more time on your hobbies or in nature, and anything else that brings you joy.

Make time for yourself, and the good skin will come to you.

Drink plenty of water

You probably remember that I mentioned that dehydration is a common reason for your sebum glands to start overproducing, causing oily skin in the morning. To prevent this, you can make sure you’re well-hydrated by drinking enough water.

A good water balance is not only helpful for avoiding oily skin, but it’s also a nice way to clean the toxins from the body.

If you don’t already have a habit of drinking enough water, now is the best time to start one.

And if you find it too boring of a drink, there are lots of recipes on Pinterest that can give you great ideas on how you can spice up your water intake. Sans alcohol 🙂

Don’t allow oil and dirt to get on your face during the day

Another thing you could do to prevent waking up with a shiny face is to make sure it doesn’t get overly dirty or oily during the day.

For example, try not to touch your face with dirty hands and fingernails. This will prevent dirt, oil, and bacteria from contacting the epidermis and spreading.

Always clean your hands before touching your face and make sure your smartphone is also sanitized frequently or at least doesn’t touch your face either.

I’d also recommend washing your pillowcases regularly as this is another source of oiliness and bacteria that your face touches for long hours at night.

How to get rid of oily skin in the morning?

So, say that you’re doing the above but you’re still waking up with oily skin. What should you do?

The best solution is to adopt a suitable skincare routine to get rid of the excess oiliness.

For starters, make sure to wash your face in the morning to control the oil levels. I’d recommend staying away from scrubbing your skin or using scrubbing products with hard particles. This may lead to eliminating layers from the skin and promoting sebum production. It could also cause skin irritation, making the problem even bigger.

A lot of people are also tempted to hide the problem with makeup. A little (or a lot!) of powder here and there, you know?

However, this is not always the best idea as some makeup products will clog the pores and make your face look even oilier long-term. I’d say that water-based makeup products are a good alternative for some. Others, on the other hand, prefer to wear no makeup at all, and those lucky few have good odds of beating the morning shine.

If you’re having trouble with oily skin in the morning, it’s important to choose your sunscreen carefully.

The sunscreen that it’s recommended to use will include zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. They are both non-comedogenic and extremely gentle on the skin. It’s no coincidence that they are often recommended as ingredients suitable for people with oily skin.

The surprising benefits of having oily skin

So, oily skin is a complete disaster for you, eh? A nightmare that you simply want to wake up from.

Trust me, I’ve been there.

But you may be surprised to hear that the situation is never all bad. Oily skin, though considered a problem, can also have a set of advantages. So, if everything else fails, perhaps it will be best to appreciate the positives of your situation and embrace what you have.

For example, oily skin has an additional layer of protection against dangerous UV rays. I’m not saying that you can omit the use of sunscreen, but it’s nice knowing that you’re a tad more protected than the folks with dry and sensitive skin.

Plus, people with oily skin age slower.


Because oily skin is thicker in comparison to dry skin and it’s generally more resistant.

Lastly, let’s admit it – oily skin means that you’re always hydrated.

The skin will lose less moisture during the day, putting you one step ahead of people with other skin types.

So in a nutshell, oily skin could also be a blessing in disguise for those of you brave enough to look at it from a different perspective.

I hope I’ve managed to add some clarity to this common challenge that a lot of people face.

If you’ve been asking yourself “why is my face oily when I wake up” you can now find the answer and work towards a solution.

If you have experience with some of the recommended solutions or you’ve discovered other reasons for oily skin in the morning, I’d love to hear them! Share your stories and feedback in the comment section below!

Until next time!

Tags: oiliness
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