10 Causes of Greasy Morning Hair (With Solutions) (2023)


10 Causes of Greasy Morning Hair (With Solutions) (1)

Experts consulted: multiple beauty and health professionals – whilst I have written this article myself, the content and advice comes from several of our staff who are beauty professionals and also doctors who advised on the medical causes of oily hair.

If you’re constantly waking up with oily, greasy hair in the morning, then you might be wondering why this is the case.

This can be especially confusing if you’re washing your hair a lot and trying to get rid of the oil just before bed, only for you to spontaneously wake up with greasy hair.

So here’s the answer:

The main reason why your hair is greasy specifically in the morning is due to excess sebum production from your scalp which can be triggered by washing your hair excessively, exposing your scalp to friction (such as being restless at night), and sleeping on dirty pillow cases and bedding.

In addition to there being several causes of excess sebum production on your scalp, there are also several other reasons why your hair is greasy – which I have addressed below and provided solutions for.

Related article: find out if Moroccanoil products can make your hair greasy here.

10 Reasons Why Your Hair is Oily in the Morning

The fundamental cause of greasy hair is due a build-up of sebum on your scalp which then travels down into your hair.

As explained in the video above, sebum is an oily substance that is secreted by your skin in order to protect and moisturize it – too much sebum production can cause acne in addition to oily hair.

Below, I have revealed the top ten causes of greasy morning hair, some of which are related to excess sebum production, whilst others are not.

1: Hormonal Changes

Greasy hair that’s caused by too much sebum production is typically caused by hormonal changes.

This explains why you’ll typically get greasy hair (and oily skin) when you’re a teenager, under stress, going through the menopause, being pregnant, or on birth control medication (source).

More specifically, anything that causes fluctuations in testosterone, DHEA, estrogen, progesterone, and cortisol can potentially lead to oily skin and acne.

For example, an increase in testosterone during puberty can cause increased sebum production and a widening of the pores on your skin, which results in the sebum being released from your scalp and traveling down the strands of your hair – thus making it oily and greasy.

Increases in certain hormones can also make curly hair turn straight, in some individuals.

If you have curly hair, then you’ll often find that your scalp is greasy because the sebum can’t travel down the strands of your hair as easily (which can cause frizzy hair due to the hair drying out) and the oil instead builds up on your scalp.

Click here to find out how Moroccanoil products can help your curly hair.

2: Medications

Certain medications can affect your hormones which leads to increased sebum production and thus cause your hair and skin to become greasy.

If you’re taking medications that naturally or artificially increase testosterone in your body, then this can lead to increased sebum on your scalp and skin.

Progesterone is used in hormone replacement therapy for women, and may potentially increase sebum production (source).

3: Underlying Health Conditions

Another cause of excessive sebum production is the presence of an underlying medical condition.

Conditions that may cause excess sebum production include Parkinson’s disease and conditions that affect the organs that produce hormones.

4: A Diet High in Refined Carbohydrates

Foods that are classified as refined carbohydrates – such as white bread, white rice, pasta, and sugary cereals – along with foods that are high in sugar, can cause rapid spikes in blood sugar which in turn can increase androgen hormones and IGF-1 which can cause an increase in sebum production and thus greasy hair and oily skin.

This is why those who have acne are encouraged to follow a diet that’s low in refined carbohydrates and sugar in order to avoid such spikes and stabilize their hormones.

5: Product Build-Up

A common cause of greasy hair is the build-up of products on your scalp.

For example, if you use hair products that are heavy they can be difficult to get out of your hair entirely.

Not washing out shampoo, conditioner, hairspray, and other products can prevent the natural oils from being reabsorbed which makes your hair look greasier – this is often a problem if the product contains silicone because this substance forms a coating around your hair.

6: Over Washing

Washing your hair too much can make it oily because it strips your hair of its natural oils, which causes more sebum to be produced.

This can lead to the overproduction of sebum, which may make you wash your hair more, which leads to even more oil production – thus propagating the cycle.

7: Hair Type

The type of hair that you have can contribute to it being greasy.

For example, very straight, fine hair often gets greasy because the sebum can travel down the strands very easily.

Conversely, curly hair doesn’t allow the oils to move as easily, but on the contrary, this can lead to frizzing due to the hair drying out.

8: Headwear

Frequently wearing headgear – especially if it’s tight-fitting like a beanie – can make your hair greasy because it traps the sebum in your hair and scalp.

Tight-fitting headwear will often force the oil into your scalp, whilst paradoxically making the ends look drier – which can really make your hair look a mess.

9: Dirty Pillowcases and Bedding

Pillowcases can absorb oils and dirt from your hair very easily.

If you don’t wash them regularly, this build-up will end up back in your scalp, clogging it with oil and dirt.

Using dirty brushes and combs will have the same effect.

10: Over-Stimulating Your Hair

Touching or playing with your hair can encourage it to produce more sebum.

Things like massaging your scalp, brushing for too long, or tossing around a lot at night can cause this build-up of protective oils.

Even washing your hair in water that is too hot, can overstimulate it, making it feel itchy, and encouraging sebum production.

How to Fix Greasy Morning Hair

The video above discusses some solutions for fixing flat, greasy hair.

Below, I’ve provided solutions that focus more on fixing the greasy aspect, especially if it’s occurring in the morning.

1: See Your Doctor

If you have just suddenly started getting greasy hair, then you should go and see your doctor in order to rule out any underlying medical conditions.

If you have recently started taking medication then they may be able to tell you if your greasy hair and scalp are a side effect and they may alter the dose or provide you with an alternative medication.

2: Wash Your Hair Less

If you’re currently washing your hair every day, then you may be stripping your hair of oils and so your body is producing more sebum to overcompensate.

So whilst it may seem counterintuitive, washing your hair three times per week may actually help to reduce your oily hair by stabilizing your sebum production.

3: Turn Down the Water Temperature

Washing your hair with very hot water can cause your scalp to dry out and thus produce more sebum that leads to oily hair.

And whilst there’s no need to go as far as washing your hair in cold water, dropping the temperature down a bit so that the water is still warm is better than using really hot water on your hair.

4: Change Your Bedding and Pillowcase

Making sure that you’re washing your pillowcases and bedding each week can help to stop your hair from becoming greasy due to oils being put back into your hair at night.

If you want to go the extra mile, consider swapping to a silk pillowcase.

Silk is far less absorbent than the more common cotton pillowcase, and reduces the friction on your hair, which can produce sebum.

5: Eat Less Refined Carbohydrates

Because eating too many refined carbohydrates can lead to increased sebum production via insulin spikes, you should aim to reduce your consumption of foods like white bread, bagels, waffles, pastries, pizza, and food with high sugar content (see more examples here).

Instead, get your carbs from more complex sources like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.

Consuming essential fatty acids from sources like fresh fish, nuts, and seeds – along with consumption of vitamins like zinc and B6 can help to keep your skin healthy and control sebum production.

6: Try Quick Fixes for a Morning Emergency

The best course of action to fix greasy hair is to fix the underlying causes, such as hormonal issues and poor washing habits – as already discussed.

However, if you’re just looking for a quick fix in the morning then you can use dry shampoo to soak up the grease in your hair.

If you don’t like the way dry shampoo makes your hair look, I recommend finding a tinted version, which matches your hair color – this allows for a flawless, unnoticeable finish.

Just make sure you wash out dry shampoo thoroughly, to prevent build-up on the scalp.

If you prefer not to use dry shampoo, corn starch or baby powder are great alternatives.

Both can dry out your hair quickly, though, so be sure to only use a tiny amount of either, and apply it only to the roots of your hair, close to your scalp.

If you’re needing something in a pinch, oil-absorbing sheets meant for removing oil from your face can be used on your scalp also.

Dab around the roots of your hair to try and pick up as much excess oil as you can.


If you have suddenly started getting greasy hair, then you need to see your doctor first and foremost to rule out any underlying conditions and find out if hormonal changes or a poor diet are to blame.

If not, then it could be your washing habits that are causing the problem.

Washing too often and/or at too high a temperature are common causes of greasy hair, usually because as the grease builds up, the more people wash their hair more vigorously – which makes the problem worse.

Up next: find out if hair gel contributes to hair loss here.

Image Attribution and Licensing

Main image: ‘Woman Posing Against a Blue Background’ by PeopleImages.com – Yuri A. Licensed via Shutterstock.

10 Causes of Greasy Morning Hair (With Solutions) (2)


Dan is the founder of Finer Home Living – he is the head content creator, chief product reviewer, senior editor, and manages the production staff. Dan began his work as a professional online product reviewer and blogger in 2015 and specializes in creating high quality content sites in the home decor, home renovation, and lifestyle improvement spaces. Learn more about me here. Click here to see my professional experience.


How do I stop waking up with greasy hair? ›

How To Stop Hair Getting Greasy Overnight
  1. Identify your hair type. ...
  2. Use a shampoo specifically designed for oily roots. ...
  3. Use a clarifying treatment once a week. ...
  4. Clean your pillowcases. ...
  5. Use dry shampoo at the right time of day. ...
  6. Avoid really hot showers. ...
  7. Rule out any potential underlying conditions.
Sep 1, 2022

Why is my hair so greasy when I wake up? ›

Why your hair gets greasy overnight. Hair gets greasy overnight as at night time your body produces more sebum. A normal substance, sebum coats and protects your hair shaft providing that glossy shine. Dirty pillowcases, washing too little or too often, and agitation as you sleep can all contribute to over production.

What vitamin deficiency causes greasy hair? ›

Not Getting Enough B Vitamins

"A sufficient intake of the B vitamins, particularly of vitamin B2 (riboflavin) and vitamin B6 (pyridoxine), can help combat greasy hair by regulating sebum production," the site explained.

What hormone causes greasy hair? ›

Hair and puberty

These are both likely caused by the sex hormone testosterone, which is a major player in both female and male reproductive development. Testosterone is thought to increase the production of sebum which is the substance that can make both skin and hair feel oily.

Is greasy hair a symptom of anything? ›

Overly greasy hair may be due to seborrhea, which is a relatively common skin condition. Seborrhea occurs when the sebaceous glands create excess oil, or sebum, making the skin and scalp oily. Most people with seborrhea do not have any underlying health problems.

Why do I wake up with greasy hair when I go to bed with it wet? ›

"The scalp has lots of oil glands, so this is a common problem." Basically, sleeping with wet hair can cause a vicious cycle of damage and grease.

What supplements stop greasy hair? ›

A common mistake is that people treat greasy hair and don't understand that they may actually be dealing with a sebum imbalance.” Increase your consumption of vitamin B2 (riboflavin) and vitamin B6 (pyridoxine), both of which can assist in regulating sebum production.

What foods prevent greasy hair? ›

Lifestyle and diet changes to fix oily hair

Your diet should consist of foods rich in vitamin B, especially B2 and B6. It is believed that these components in your diet can help keep your sebum production in control. So, consider adding foods like leafy vegetables, pulses, and seaweed.

Can vitamin D make your hair greasy? ›

Vitamin D deficiency: Vitamin D is responsible for regulating the sebum content in the body. A deficiency could lead to an imbalance in our scalp oil levels. Humid climate: The production of sebum touches an all time high in humid conditions.

Can stress make hair greasy? ›

Modern lifestyles have led to an increase in anxiety and stress levels, making them one of the most common causes of oily hair. “Stress causes your cortisol levels to rise. Cortisol stresses out the oil glands to produce more sebum, naturally leading to oily hair,” explains Sethi.

Can overactive thyroid cause greasy hair? ›

Confusingly, hyperthyroid states can also lead to effluvium, together with thinned hair shaft diameter and brittle, greasy hair (1, 9–11), despite an apparently increased hair matrix proliferation (3). Hair shafts of patients with hyperthyroidism also show substantially reduced tensile strength (10).

Does apple cider vinegar help oily hair? ›

Apply apple cider vinegar

Yes, the cooking staple can now be used to de-slick your greasy hair, too. “Apple cider vinegar has astringent properties that help remove excess oil from the skin,” says Joshua Zeichner, MD, director of cosmetic and clinical research in dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York.

What does apple cider vinegar rinse do to hair? ›

Science supports the use of apple cider vinegar as a hair rinse. It could help strengthen hair and improve luster by lowering hair and scalp pH. It may also keep pesky scalp infections and itchiness at bay.

What causes extremely greasy hair? ›

Oily hair is frequently caused by overwashing your hair, environmental factors, and using certain hair care products. It can also result from post-strenuous exercise, excess heat, and humidity.

Can your pillow make your hair greasy? ›

Just like overwashing, sleeping on a cotton pillowcase can dry out your scalp and trigger it to produce extra sebum which contributes to oiliness.

Is sleeping with wet hair unhealthy? ›

Wet hair when sleeping also can cause damage to follicles and result in hair breakage. Skin conditions: Hair follicles under the skin clogged up with sebum or oil can result in acne. As wet hair harbors bacteria, this can also impact the growth of bacteria in the pores.

Why you shouldn't sleep with wet hair? ›

"Simply put, hair is at its most vulnerable when wet. Sleeping with wet hair can lead to a host of problems for the scalp: unwanted bacteria, fungal infections, skin irritation, itchiness, dryness, redness, and dandruff," says hairstylist Miko Branch, co-founder of hair care brand Miss Jessie's Original.

How do I get rid of greasy hair in 2 minutes? ›

  1. Use dry shampoo. If your strands are looking a little limp, spray some dry shampoo along your part. ...
  2. Try baby powder. ...
  3. Grab some texturising powder. ...
  4. Oil blotting sheets to the rescue. ...
  5. Wear a hair accessory. ...
  6. Add texture. ...
  7. Consider using toner, hand sanitiser and other astringent products.
Dec 31, 2021

Does baking soda get rid of greasy hair? ›

People report that baking soda, dissolved in water, can remove excess oil and buildup, soften your hair, and restore shine.

Why is my hair greasy after 1 day? ›

Those with fine or thin hair, however, may find their hair looks greasy after just one day. It's all to do with the amount of oil your scalp produces, as well as how well your hair can carry that oil.

How can I cover my oily hair when sleeping? ›

Wrap your hair in a silk scarf or gentle fabric to keep the oil off your pillow covers, and let the treatment do its magic while you sleep. The very next morning, don't get your hair wet or shower! Instead, take your shampoo and apply it directly to your oily hair.

How do you get rid of greasy hair overnight without washing it? ›

Try this: Use dry shampoo before your hair gets greasy. Apply dry shampoo in your hair before you go to bed and allow it to stay overnight. This allows the dry shampoo to soak up the natural oils your hair produces while you sleep and you will be able to brush it out in the morning.

Does conditioner make your hair oily? ›

Is there a downside? Your hair certainly won't feel as clean as it does after shampooing. Conditioner can build up on hair, making it feel heavy and greasy. It will also attract more dust and dirt from the air.

How do you make your hair not greasy in 5 minutes? ›

  1. Use dry shampoo. If your strands are looking a little limp, spray some dry shampoo along your part. ...
  2. Try baby powder. ...
  3. Grab some texturising powder. ...
  4. Oil blotting sheets to the rescue. ...
  5. Wear a hair accessory. ...
  6. Add texture. ...
  7. Consider using toner, hand sanitiser and other astringent products.
Dec 31, 2021

What is the healthiest way to wear your hair to bed? ›

Braid your hair before going to sleep. This old trick works every time and is one of the best ways to wear your hair when sleeping. It not only protects your hair – stopping it from tangling and breaking – but also gives you gorgeous beachy waves the next day and cuts down on frizz.

How do you fix greasy hair without dry shampoo? ›

Arrowroot Powder: This powder can absorb oil and grease pretty quickly. Just massage a bit of arrowroot powder on scalp and hair and brush away the excess. People with darker hair can mix equal quantity of cocoa powder and apply on the scalp.


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