A woman touching her face

The Main Reasons Why Your Face Is Oily When You Wake Up

Waking up with an oily face is normal, but can be incredibly frustrating. Here's why it happens and how you can keep it under control.
Updated: November 9, 2022
Article Contents:

Getting a good night’s sleep is essential for living a healthy and balanced lifestyle. However, waking up from a refreshing slumber in the morning only to feel a build-up of oil on your face can be both annoying and confusing.

Why does this happen? Is it something we should worry about? Let’s take a closer look.

Why does your face get oily overnight?

The first thing we should say is waking up with oily skin, especially on the face, is completely normal and natural. It isn’t a sign that you have developed some sort of skin condition, or that your hormones are acting up. In fact, you might be surprised to learn that this process is actually a good thing that shows your body is working properly.

When the skin produces oil, or sebum, overnight, this is actually an evolutionary survival mechanism. The oil is created to protect the skin from dehydration and keep as much moisture on the skin as possible. Sebum has other benefits beyond hydration too, including the maintaining of elasticity in the skin, and helping with water retention.

Sounds all well and good, but the point remains that waking up with an oily face is sometimes just downright frustrating! And sometimes there may be more than meets the eye as to why it’s happening.

For more tips on how to tackle sudden oily skin in general, check out our handy guide!

What are the other reasons why skin gets oily overnight?

As we said, it’s very rare that finding oiliness on the skin in the morning signifies some kind of medical or skin issue, but there are a few more reasons why this could be happening.

Here are some of the main ones.


Ah yes, this old chestnut. Genetics determine basically everything about us and how our bodies work. It’s no different when it comes to our skin. If you experience excessive oily skin, it’s probably a genetic trait, or at least influenced by your genes to some degree. There’s not much you can do about this other than find an effective way to manage your skin with suitable products.

Environmental factors

What is the climate like where you live? Does it get hot, humid, and stuffy at night? The environment we exist within has a huge impact on our skin. Generally speaking, colder climates can dry out skin, whereas warmer climates can cause oiliness and sweating. Try to get the atmosphere in your bedroom as balanced as possible to give the skin a better chance of staying neutral.

Blocked pores

Going to bed with skincare products or makeup still on the face can end up blocking pores and trapping the natural oil produced by the skin. This will then lead to nasty breakouts and excess oiliness. Always make sure to go to bed with as clean a face as possible to lower the chances of this occurring.

Gland hyperactivity

This is where things might get a little more complicated. Hyperactivity of the sebaceous glands in the face leads to excessive oil production during the day, which can then carry over into the night. When you go to sleep, you lose further moisture from the skin which can then lead to dehydration and a very oily face in the morning.

Methods to manage the amount of oil on your face

While you can’t stop oil production during sleep, nor would you want to consider it since it’s a natural bodily function, you can instead lessen the amount of oil that is produced by using some simple methods.

Drink more water

This is the obvious one. Since your body produces oil during the night to keep the skin hydrated as a survival instinct, you can minimize the amount of oil created by making sure you’re fully hydrated to begin with. Most people go through life being dehydrated on a daily basis, so drinking more water is something we all need to get into the habit of doing. Make sure you’re giving your body ample water so it doesn’t feel the need to take further steps.

Use moisturizer

Another simple solution is to keep the skin actively hydrated by using a well-regarded facial moisturizer. Depending on your skin type, you can opt for a rich cream or a lighter serum to prime the skin for a good night’s rest. This will help keep excess sebum production under control.

Lower use of makeup & cosmetics

Using too much makeup or cosmetics products can overload the skin with all sorts of chemicals and trapped dirt. Over time, this residue can block pores and cause breakouts and oiliness. Don’t overdo it. Less is more.

In conclusion

Waking up with an oily face is natural and nothing to worry about. Your body undergoes this process due to our evolutionary hardwiring, and it’s actually a really fascinating aspect of how our skin works.

However, the effects of oiliness can be reduced by doing simple things that will go a long way. Stay hydrated, keep the skin clear, and take note of your immediate environment.

Here’s to many more relaxing nights of sleep and less oily mornings!

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