Greasy hair can be frustrating, especially when it occurs the morning after washing. If you are experiencing this issue, you may be wondering why your hair seems excessively oily after sleeping.

Waking up with greasy hair can have various causes. One reason is that the scalp produces sebum (1) at night, leading to oily hair in the morning. Read on to learn more about why your body might be producing excess sebum, as well as some tips on how to tackle the issue so you wake up looking fresh.

Possible Causes For Overnight Greasy Hair

First up, let’s discuss some of the things that can cause you to wake up with an oily mop in the morning. After that, we will tackle some possible solutions that can help you wake up grease-free.

You Are Washing Your Hair Too Much

If you’ve taken to washing your hair more frequently in an effort to combat that unwanted morning grease, you may be exacerbating the situation.

Your hair should have a fine, natural oil coating to protect it from the elements. Washing your hair excessively strips these oils out, and your body’s response is to produce more oils.

Some people need to wash more often than others, but generally speaking, you should only wash your hair once every 2-3 days at the most. 

Your Hair Type Plays A Role

No matter what hair type you have, you can wake up with the dreaded greasiness that makes it look like you haven’t washed your hair in a few days. However, some hair types are more prone to feeling and looking oily than others (2).

If you have fine or thin hair, any oil buildup that occurs overnight will likely be more obvious than if you had thicker, coarser hair. This is partly due to the volume of hair on your head – essentially, thicker hair is more accommodating for natural oils. In fact, many people with bushy or curly hair complain that their hair feels dry and brittle after a good wash. Unfortunately, the thickness and texture of your hair aren’t something you can change.

Your Pillowcase Can Be A Problem

Most people use cotton pillowcases. Cotton is a sturdy, hypoallergenic, and breathable material, but the coarse fibers are prone to absorbing oil and bacteria. Cotton pillowcases also dry out your hair, and as explained above, this can trigger your body to produce more sebum.

Tips To Prevent Overnight Greasy Hair

Now that we have covered some of the reasons you might be feeling a little too slick for your own liking upon waking, let’s have a look at some of the things you can do to combat overnight greasy hair. Please note that it can be tricky to get oily hair under control, so this may take some experimentation on your part. 

Try A Dry Shampoo

Dry shampoo is often looked down upon as an unhygienic method of cleaning your hair – this may be true if used exclusively, but  when used as part of your hair care regimen it can help save you from those oily mornings.

Applying dry shampoo to the roots of your hair around your face and the nape of your neck can help absorb oil that sets in overnight. Depending on your preference, you can either apply it before bed or in the morning when you wake up.

Get A Silk Pillowcase

Cotton pillowcases are fine for most people, but silk is not only luxuriously soft, it is also less absorbent, meaning it will not dry your hair out as much through the night.

Silk pillowcases might be more expensive than their cotton counterparts, but your hair will thank you by being less greasy in the morning. The other benefit of silk is that it is gentler on your hair, which means less breakage.

Wash Your Hair Less Often

If you’ve been washing your hair every other day, try spacing out your washes a little more. It may take a couple of weeks for your body to adjust and stop producing so much sebum in response to the constant stripping.

If you’re worried about excess oil, incorporating a dry shampoo can help you keep your hair looking fresh. The truth is, the natural oils your scalp produces aren’t unclean, so you shouldn’t treat them as such. 

If you work in an environment that causes your hair to get dirty quickly, necessitating more frequent washes, consider covering or tying it up during the day. If that is not possible, try a gentler shampoo with less harsh ingredients.


Having excessively oily hair in the morning can be extremely annoying, but with the tips detailed above, hopefully you can get it under control. Using a dry shampoo, changing your pillowcase, and switching up your hair-washing routine may be exactly what you need to help you stop waking up to greasy hair. Try out the tips above and adjust your regimen to suit your needs. If after all that you’re still having trouble with your hair, consider making additional lifestyle changes such as consuming a healthier diet or incorporating high-quality supplements targeting your needs.


Trina used to be a full time hospital dietician but now works as a medical secretary in a small clinic. She and Mr. Walker are proud empty-nesters living in Denver, Colorado and looking forward to the next time their children come to visit. On the weekends, Trina enjoys visiting Bonita, Chino, and Bernardo, the golden lion tamarins at the Denver Zoo.

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