The 6 Best Shower Filters to Ease Dry Skin and Dull Hair
Adding a shower filter to your bathroom is an unsung beauty treatment that has the power to improve your skin and hair. Many homes have hard water, which is water that's high in dissolved minerals and can dry out your skin and hair. If you've ever noticed a filmy residue on your skin after a shower, it's because of the hard water.
This phenomenon "causes your pores to clog up, which, in turn, can lead to acne and exacerbate skin conditions like eczema and dermatitis," Tess Mauricio, a board-certified dermatologist in Beverly Hills, previously told Real Simple. With your hair, "you may notice [your hair] lose its color and not look as shiny with long-term use of hard water."
All shower filters look pretty similar, but there are key specifications consumers should keep in mind before buying, including the type of filtration system, your shower type, and the filter's longevity. Our top choice is the AquaBliss High Output Shower Filter, which removes both chlorine and chlorine byproducts and fits all shower head types.
Read on to check out our top shower filter picks as well as how to choose the right shower filter for your home.
Our Top Picks
- Best Overall Shower Filter: AquaBliss High Output Shower Filter
- Best Budget Shower Filter: BWDM 15-Stage Shower Filter
- Best Built-In Shower Filter: Culligan WSH-C125 Filtered Shower Head
- Best Built-in Handheld Shower Filter: PureAction Luxury Filtered Shower Head
- Best Inline Handheld Shower Filter: Kohler Aquifer Shower Filter
- Best Shower Filter for Well Water: CraterAquaSystems 15 Stages Shower Filter
Best Overall Shower Filter: AquaBliss High Output Shower Filter
Best Budget Shower Filter: BWDM 15-Stage Shower Filter
Best Built-In Shower Filter: Culligan WSH-C125 Filtered Shower Head
Best Built-In Handheld Shower Filter: PureAction Luxury Filtered Shower Head
Best Inline Handheld Shower Filter: Kohler Aquifer Shower Water Filtration System
Best Shower Filter for Well Water: CraterAquaSystems 15 Stages Shower Water Filter
The AquaBliss High Output Shower Filter is our top choice overall for its multiple filtration systems, easy-to-install inline design, and the fact that it doubles as a diffuser. If you're looking for something more budget-friendly, we recommend the BWDM 15-Stage Shower Filter, which offers all the benefits of more expensive models for a much lower price.
How to Shop for Shower Filters
There are two types of shower filters you should be aware of: inline and built-in. One doesn't necessarily perform better than the other, so the biggest question you need to ask yourself prior to buying is what will work best in your shower. Inline shower filters are the best option for people who can't replace their shower heads, such as renters, because they can be attached to any existing shower head. Built-in filtered shower heads are, as you might have guessed, shower heads that have a filter already built-in, and are ideal for people who can and want to replace their shower heads. Built-ins are available for handheld shower heads, too.
Shower filters typically use two types of filtration systems: activated carbon and kinetic degradation fluxion (also known as KDF or redox media). Carbon filtration systems use activated carbon (also known as activated charcoal) to draw in and trap the contaminants present in your water, including chlorine, pesticides, lithium, and chlorine byproducts.
Kinetic degradation fluxion systems use a mixture of copper and zinc to filter out contaminants such as lead, mercury, iron, chlorine, and more—it may even reduce limescale. These systems are often used with activated carbon to achieve the best filtration results. While browsing, you may see shower filters with a Vitamin C filtration system, which filter out chlorine and chloramine fluoride, but not much else.
There isn't a whole lot of maintenance involved with maintaining the life of a shower filter—the only thing you need to be mindful of is its lifespan. Shower filters tend to last about three to six months, though that may vary depending on the manufacturer and how often you take showers. Oftentimes the manufacturer will list the number of gallons it can handle before needing to be replaced. To figure out, consider the amount of time you are usually taking a shower, multiply it by 2.5 gallons (the amount an average shower head emits per minute), then divide by the maximum amount of gallons the shower filter can handle before it needs to be replaced.
Questions You Might Ask
Do I really need a shower filter?
It depends on your needs. Although you aren't drinking shower water, it's still covering skin and hair, and hard water can have a negative impact on both. Hard water can clog your pores and lead to skin conditions, like acne, or make existing skin conditions worse, such as eczema and dermatitis. For your hair, hard water may cause itchiness and dryness on your scalp, as well as lead to color dullness. If you notice any of these things happening over time, it may help to get a shower filter.
Shower filters are also great for people who simply don't want to come in contact with any water contaminants, even though they aren't drinking the water. To find out what contaminants are in your water, check out the Environmental Working Group's Tap Water Database. From there, you can search for shower filters that remove the contaminants that are in your water.
What can I expect with installation?
Shower filters are pretty easy to install and can be done without a professional. For inline shower heads, all you have to do is unscrew your shower head from the arm (the pipe that is connected to the shower head), take off the plumber's tape present, replace the plumber's tape, then insert the filter, screw the shower head back on, and you've got filtered water. The same instructions apply to built-ins, with the only exception being that you need to remove your shower head to apply your new one.
Take Our Word for It
This article was written by Rachel Center, lifelong aficionado of all things home and the product reviews home writer at Real Simple. She researched all the components that make a great shower filter, and ultimately selected products based on their effectiveness, type, filtration system, and longevity, as well as customer reviews and ratings.