AquaBliss High Output Shower Filter
Credit: Amazon.com

The 6 Best Shower Filters to Ease Dry Skin and Dull Hair

One easy fix to your hard water woes.
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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

AquaBliss High Output Revitalizing Shower Filter Reduces Dry Itchy Skin, Dandruff
Credit: amazon.com

Best Overall Shower Filter: AquaBliss High Output Shower Filter

View at Amazon ($50)

Who it's for: People who want a shower filter with multiple filtration stages.  
Who it isn't for: People who don't want added vitamins and minerals in their water.

This shower filter is unique in that it doubles as a diffuser. The AquaBliss High Output Shower Filter is 75 percent a filtration system that utilizes sediment filters, calcium sulfite, activated carbon, ceramic beads, and redox media (also called KDF) to remove chlorine, while the remaining 25 percent releases vitamins and minerals (like Vitamin C) into your water.

The AquaBliss filter works with multiple types of shower heads ranging from rainfall shower heads to handhelds. It's easy to install, plus it comes with everything you need to install, even plumbers tape, which is not a common addition in other shower filter kits.

Product Details:

  • Filter Type: Inline
  • Shower Head Type: Fixed, handheld, rain
  • Filter Lifespan: Four to six months
15 Stage Shower Filter - Shower Head Filter
Credit: amazon.com

Best Budget Shower Filter: BWDM 15-Stage Shower Filter

View at Amazon ($30)

Who it's for: People who want a budget-friendly shower filter.  
Who it isn't for: People who have water with more sediment, as that will require more backwashing to prevent lower water pressure.

This low-cost shower filter from BWDM is perfect if you're looking to try one out for the first time. It has a 15-stage filtration system that includes activated carbon, KDF (which is a copper-zinc formulation), calcium sulfite, and Vitamin C, and lasts four to six months, or the equivalent of about 12,000 gallons of water. This shower filter also comes in three colors, including chrome, nickel-brushed, and oil-rubbed bronze, making it easy to match with your existing shower hardware. Plus, installation is a breeze with no tools required, and it's compatible with most shower heads.

Product Details:

  • Filter Type: Inline
  • Shower Head Type: Fixed, handheld, rain
  • Filter Life: Four to six months
Culligan WSH-C125 Wall-Mounted Filtered Shower Head with Massage
Credit: amazon.com

Best Built-In Shower Filter: Culligan WSH-C125 Filtered Shower Head

View at Amazon ($45)

Who it's for: People specifically looking to filter out scale.
Who it isn't for: People who can't replace their shower heads, such as renters.

If you are able to replace your shower head entirely, go with this shower head with a built-in filter. The Culligan WSH-C125 model reduces nearly all traces of sulfur, chlorine, and hard scale, which is that crusty stuff that you see building up around your shower head and your faucets. 

What really sets this option apart from others on our list is that it has five different spray settings, including a full-body spray and extra strong pulse. It also features an anti-clog rubber and even a reminder sticker to help you remember to change the cartridge. This product will work on any shower arm that is half an inch thick.

Product Details:

  • Filter Type: Built-in
  • Shower Head Type: Fixed
  • Filter Life: Six months
PureAction Luxury Filtered Shower Head
Credit: Amazon.com

Best Built-In Handheld Shower Filter: PureAction Luxury Filtered Shower Head

View at Amazon ($41)

Who it's for: People who want to replace their handheld shower head. 
Who it isn't for: People who don't want fluoride filtered out. 

The PureAction Luxury Filtered Shower Head filters out substances such as calcium, iron, and chrome by up to 99 percent, plus the filter cartridge also strains out chlorine, chloramines, and a large amount of fluoride. The shower head is made of a sleek chrome and has three high pressure settings, including rain, massage, or a rain-massage combo, allowing you to elevate your shower experience. 

This PureAction model will fit any standard shower arm and comes with a small installation kit to help you get started, including a replacement hose, hose holder, and plumbers tape. The filter's cartridge needs to be replaced every six months, and the whole thing comes with a one-year warranty. 

Product Details:

  • Filter Type: Built-in
  • Shower Head Type: Handheld
  • Filter Life: Six months
Kohler Aquifer Shower Water Filtration System
Credit: Wayfair.com

Best Inline Handheld Shower Filter: Kohler Aquifer Shower Water Filtration System

View at Wayfair ($91)

Who it's for: People who have handheld shower heads that they aren't able to completely replace.
Who it isn't for: People who want a budget-friendly filter.

Yes, you can still buy an inline shower filter if you have a handheld shower head. What's so great about this filter is that you don't have to attach it directly to your hose, which may make it heavier to hold. You can attach it to the wall elbow (the wall hook where you rest your handheld shower head) or you can also attach it to the shower valve, so you don't have to see it while showering. The latter option is only recommended for DIYers who know some about plumbing, as your shower valve is hidden in your wall.

The Kohler Aquifer Shower Filter works to filter out chlorine and any odor that may be coming from your water. It also controls the growth of scale, bacteria, and algae. This shower filter lasts about six months, or until you reach 8,000 gallons, and you can either purchase a new filter when it's time or enroll in Kohler's cartridge replacement subscription service, which automatically sends you a filter in the time frame of your choosing, including three, six, nine, or 12 months.    

Product Details:

  • Filter Type: Inline
  • Shower Head Type: Handheld
  • Filter Life: Six months
15 Stages Shower Water Filter with Silver layer
Credit: amazon.com

Best Shower Filter for Well Water: CraterAquaSystems 15 Stages Shower Water Filter

View at Amazon ($29)

Who it's for: People who need a shower filter that's really heavy duty.
Who it isn't for: People who only want to filter out chlorine.

Even though it looks just like many of the other options on this list, CraterAquaSystem's shower filter takes water purification to the next level with its KDF-55 layer. KDF-55 is a filtration process that prevents heavy duty impurities such as lead, mercury, iron, and more from reaching your shower. It is often used alongside activated carbon in shower filters, including this one, to achieve optimal filtration results. The KDF-55 present in this model is also able to control bacteria, dirt, algae, and fungi and reduces up to 97 percent of chlorine.

This shower filter lasts about three to six months depending on use, or until you reach 12,000 gallons filtered. Unlike other shower filters, your order comes with two cartridges, so you won't need to buy a new one for up to a year. Plus, it's specifically designed to prevent leakage, so you don't need to worry about water dripping out of the filter.

Product Details:

  • Filter Type: Inline
  • Shower Head Type: Fixed, handheld, rain
  • Filter Life: Six months

Final Verdict

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 

Type

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. 

Filtration

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. 

Care

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.