7 Best Filtered Shower Heads for Hard Water, According to Dermatologists

7 Best Filtered Shower Heads for Hard Water, According to Dermatologists

Best Filtered Shower Head Overall

Jolie The Filtered Showerhead

The Filtered Showerhead

Pros
  • Contains more KDF-55 than any other shower head filter
  • Luxe aesthetic
  • Strong water pressure
  • Easy installation
  • Several finishes available
Cons
  • Premium price tag
  • Filters have a relatively short life
  • Only has one spray setting

After hearing all the buzz about the Jolie Filtered Showerhead when it first came out a few years ago, I had to give it a try. While I hadn’t conducted an independent lab water test in my apartment at the time, the Jolie water report—which is generated based on only your zip code—determined of my Brooklyn-based water supply, and I quote, “that water ain’t clean.” The report indicated chemical by-products created during the chlorination of water containing humic substances (including haloacetic acids, total trihalomethanes, trichloroacetic acid, dichloroacetic acid, and chloroform) were present in water in my area in quantities exceeding the recommended health guidelines (a little chloroform in my bath water is OK though, I guess?). I awaited my Jolie shower head even more eagerly.

Upon unboxing, I was immediately excited about the sleek design—I opted for the Brushed Steel finish, which matched the existing old nickel hardware in my shower well enough, but added a touch of elevation to the overall aesthetic. I was gifted this product for free, but the design, feel, finish, and overall aesthetic were so impressive to me that I’d absolutely purchase it again at full retail price if I had a second shower in my apartment.

In just about 15 minutes of following along with Jolie’s instructional installation video, I had the shower head up and running.

Aside from aesthetics, this shower head is best know for its proprietary blend of KDF-55 and calcium sulfite which exceeds NSF-177 certifications for shower filters. KDF-55 is an agent that removes and reduces chlorine and heavy metals, and Jolie filters contain more of it than any other shower head filter on the market.

As I mentioned previously, the shower head itself is well worth the premium price. However, replacing the filters can prove costly. Each filter costs $33 and lasts around 90 days, although some discounts are available in you opt in to the brand’s subscription service. With all our qualms about cost aside, the Jolie is still our definite choice for the filtered shower head you should consider buying first.

Style Fixed
Water Pressure 1.8 Gallons per minute (GPM)
Spray Settings 1
Head Diameter 5.3 inches
Filtered Lifespan 90 days

Best Deal Handheld Filtered Shower Head

Cobbe Handheld Shower Head with Filter

Handheld Shower Head with Filter

Pros
  • Under $50
  • Affordable filter replacements
  • Spray settings offer a ton of adjustability
  • Several finishes available
Cons
  • Filter replacement beads are inconvienent

I tested the Cobbe Filtered Handheld Shower Head for about six months prior to acquiring the Jolie shower head, and it remains my top choice for those who want adjustability at an affordable price. The head features 142 silicone nozzles and nine spray modes, including pulsing and soothing massage patterns and even a wide flow setting for cleaning the shower or bathtub. The 60-inch hose offers ample reach, allowing for easy maneuverability in most showers.

Instead of a traditional one-piece filter, Cobbe’s shower head filters utilize a blend of beads, including activated carbon balls, to remove chlorine, odors, and balance the pH of the water. While pouring the replacement beads can be a bit tricky, the cost-effectiveness and performance of this filtration method make it an inconvenience most people are willing to make. (A 2-pack of replacement filter beads costs only $9.99, which lasts 6-8 months.)

Style Handheld
Water pressure ‎‎‎1.8 GPM
Spray settings 9
Head diameter 4.8 inches
Filter lifespan 3-4 months or 12,000 gallons

Best Rain Filtered Shower Head

Cobbe 3-Way Rain Filtered Shower Head

On Sale

3-Way Rain Filtered Shower Head

Pros
  • Provides a spa-like shower experience
  • Both heads can be adjusted in height and angle
  • Offers a wide range of spray settings
Cons
  • Installation requires replacing shower fixture from the base

This shower solution from Cobbe combines two filtered shower heads to offer an all-encompassing shower experience at home. One of the shower heads is a handheld model (also featured independently on this list above), while the other is a 12-inch square rain shower head. The rain shower head is attached to a 12-inch extended shower arm from the wall, providing the perfect angle and height in any shower. Plus, the 3-way rotatable diverter valve made of solid brass ensures easy adjustment and prevents hose sagging or tangling, solving a common issue with handheld shower diverters.

This setup features a 16-stage filtration layer, which includes KDF-55, Maifan stone ball, anion, tourmaline, and ceramic balls to remove chlorine, heavy metals, and other harmful substances from the water. With nine spray settings available on both the handheld and rain shower head attachments, you can easily customize your shower experience to suit your preferences.

Style Handheld and rain
Water pressure Handheld: 1.8 GPM; Rain: not listed
Spray settings 10
Head diameter 12 inch (rain shower head), 4.8 inch (handheld shower head)
Filter lifespan 3-4 months or 12,000 gallons

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Best Splurge Handheld Filtered Shower Head

T3 Source Hand-Held

Source Hand-Held

Pros
  • Offers a range of different spray settings
  • Heavyweight, durable feel
  • Easy installation
Cons
  • Only available in one finish
  • Over $100

T3 specializes in high-end hair tools, including hair dryers and straighteners, with a primary focus on promoting hair health. Their Source Hand-Held shower head is a filtered shower head utilizing a mineral filtration system consisting of calcium sulfide, zinc, and copper to reduce free chlorine, hydrogen sulfide, iron oxide, dirt, and odors from your water. It contains a patented formula of Tourmaline, metals, and minerals, boasting the capability to remove up to 95% of chlorine from shower water. It employs a filtration process known as “Redox,” to convert chlorine into harmless elements that are too large to be absorbed by the hair and skin. This patented technology has undergone rigorous testing and is certified by the National Sanitation Foundation (NSF), a renowned US water supply auditor and member of the World Health Organization. For this filter to perform its best, it’s recommended to be replaced every three to four months.

The most noticeable difference between this shower head and cheaper alternatives is the weight—this thing is heavy, which hints at its high-quality construction. The installation process was straightforward—simply unscrew the old shower head and replace it with the T3 shower head, requiring no tools or cussing along the way.

Offering seven distinct spray settings to cater to nearly everyone’s preferences, I love being able to switch between a strong, massaging spray for hair and body cleansing and a more gentle mist for washing my face.

Style Handheld
Water pressure 1.75 to 2 GPM
Spray settings 7
Head diameter Not listed
Filter lifespan 3-4 months (or 3,000 gallons)

Easiest Handheld Filtered Shower Head to Install

Hello Klean Purifying Shower Head

Purifying Shower Head

Pros
  • Connects to existing shower hose for a speedy install
  • Great water pressure
  • 2-step filtration process
Cons
  • Only compatible with existing handheld shower head fixtures
  • Only available in one finish

For those living in hard water areas and dealing with dry hair or skin issues, the Hello Klean Purifying Shower Head is one of my favorite options. Designed with dry and sensitive skin in mind, this shower filter proved beneficial for my thirsty, eczema-prone skin, particularly after years of showering in NYC apartment water without a filter. Its filtration system tackles various water impurities all in one: stainless steel mesh captures large sediment, calcium sulfite removes chlorines, KDF 55 targets minerals and residual chlorine, granular activated carbon eliminates bacteria, mold, and odors, while ceramic beads balance the shower water’s pH level.

Installing this shower filter was also a breeze—no plumber or tools required. It took me just about two minutes from start to finish, unscrewing my old handheld shower head and screwing this new filtered one on. That being said, it’s unfortunately only compatible with existing shower fixtures featuring a handheld shower hose.

Aside from the sleek, modern design, I appreciate this product for its sustainability focus—the refillable aluminum filter design uses 70% less plastic than most brands’ filters, and the plastic-free packaging aligns is a major plus in my book. Though the starting price falls in the middle of the range in the current market, the filters are pricier, at about $57 per filter. A subscription service brings the cost down to $43 every three months, but still, the sustainability-focused, filters are pricier than most.

Style Handheld
Water pressure Not listed
Spray settings 1
Head diameter Not listed
Filter lifespan 3 months or 3,000 gallons

Best Water Pressure Filtered Shower Head

Brondell VivaSpring Filtered Shower Head

On Sale

VivaSpring Filtered Shower Head

Pros
  • Under $50
  • Most powerful water pressure out of any filtered shower head we tested
  • Affordably priced filters
  • Long-lasting filters
Cons
  • Only has one spray setting

The VivaSpring Filtered Shower Head by Brondell is a straightforward yet effective solution for filtering shower water without sacrificing water pressure. Despite its simple appearance, this rainfall-style shower head features 60 nozzles to cover a wide angle and deliver a satisfying shower experience. With a water pressure of 2 gallons per minute and WaterSense certification, it not only saves water but also maintains excellent water pressure (most filtered shower heads we tested have a water pressure of 1.8 GPM). Installation is also a breeze—all it takes is simply screwing it into your existing shower arm.

Each replaceable filter is designed to reduce chlorine, lead, mercury, and copper in the water, lasts about 6 months (or 10,00 gallons, whichever comes first), and costs about $24. Whether you’re a budget-conscious homeowner or someone concerned about losing water pressure with a shower filter, this is a reliable choice that delivers on both performance and price.

Style Fixed
Water pressure 2 GPM
Spray settings 1
Head diameter 6.5 inches
Filter lifespan 6 months or 10,000 gallons

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Best Filtered Shower Head for Hair

Act + Acre Showerhead Filter

Showerhead Filter

Pros

    The Act+ Acre Filtered Showerhead just dropped in February 2024, so full transparency: I haven’t had the chance to put it to the test just yet. However, it’s entered the market with a splash (pun intended) as the first trichologist-tested and approved filtered shower head yet. Fitting for the haircare brand, this shower head combines functionality of easy installation and great water pressure with hair health benefits. Featuring 12 different filtration systems, including a proprietary blend of KDF-55, calcium sulfite, and charcoal, it’s designed to remove both physical and chemical debris from water without compromising on shower pressure. Act+Acre includes all the necessary tools for installation in the box, making setup quick and hassle-free. (You can watch the brief installation how-to here.)

    What sets the Act + Acre showerhead apart is its focus on hair care specifically. The combination of coconut-activated carbon, calcium sulfite, and KDF-55 is designed to ensure that your hair is protected from contaminants and chlorine byproducts, resulting in smoother and healthier strands over time. While the initial price point may seem high at $120, that’s actually on the lower end of premium filtered shower heads we’ve tested. With filters recommended to be replaced every six months at $32 each, it’s one of the most affordable premium filtered shower heads on the market.

    Style Fixed
    Water pressure 1.8 GPM yellow flow restrictor (California, Washington, Hawaii),
    2.0 GPM green flow restrictor (New York, Colorado, Vermont, Maine, Massachusetts), 2.5 GPM red flow restrictor (all other states)
    Spray settings 1
    Head diameter Not listed
    Filter lifespan 3 months

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    What to Look for in the Best Filtered Shower Heads

    A filtered shower head can be a smart investment for those looking for an easy-installation solution to improve the quality of their shower water by reducing contaminants. However, there are a few key factors to consider to ensure you choose a shower head that is compatible with your needs and preferences.

    Filtration System

    Dr. Gohara recommends looking for a filtered shower head that is designed to remove hard water minerals, chemicals, pollutants, heavy metals, and even pesticides from the water. Ensure that the filtration system is certified by reputable organizations like NSF International or the Water Quality Association (WQA) to guarantee its performance and safety.

    Contaminant Removal

    “Certain filters are designed to target certain contaminant so it is important to consider the specific things you want to remove before picking one,” explains Marisa Garshick, MD, FAAD, a board-certified dermatologist of MDCS Dermatology. You can determine the specific contaminants present in your water supply by conducting a water quality test or checking with your local water utility.

    Water Pressure

    Consider the flow rate of the filtered shower head to ensure a comfortable and satisfying shower experience. Look for shower heads with adjustable settings to customize the flow rate and pressure according to your preferences.

    Build Quality

    Choose a filtered shower head made from durable materials like stainless steel, ABS plastic, or brass to ensure longevity and resistance to corrosion. Look for shower heads with a sturdy construction and reliable seals to prevent leaks and ensure long-term performance.

    Installation and Compatibility

    Opt for a filtered shower head that is easy to install and compatible with your existing shower arm and plumbing fixtures. Check whether the shower head comes with necessary installation hardware, or if you’ll need to purchase extras such as a wrench or plumber’s tape. (Most options on this list can be installed without tools in 15 minutes or less.)

    Design

    Consider the overall design of the filtered shower head to complement your bathroom decor and personal style. Dr. Gohara recommends opting for a shower head that is easy to clean to ensure it doesn’t accumulate bacteria over time.

    Aesthetic isn’t the most important factor, but surely it matters. With so many styles, finishes, and shapes to choose from, including fixed, handheld, rainfall, or massage shower heads, it’s worth finding one that suits you.

    Filter Replacement

    Determine the maintenance requirements of the filtered shower head, including how often the filter needs to be replaced. Most filters need replacing every 3-4 months, while some last up to 6 months. Keep in mind that the more water is run through the shower head, the sooner it will need to be replaced.

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    “Hard water can disrupt the pH of the skin, creating disturbances in the skin barrier such as irritation, dryness, and susceptibility to inflammation,” says Dr. Gohara. According to her, filtered shower heads really can mitigate the damage.

    By removing harsh minerals present in hard water, filtered shower heads help prevent the skin from being negatively affected. This is particularly important for maintaining healthy hair, as hard water can lead to dryness, weakness, and breakage. “By removing chlorine, the skin is less likely to be dry and the hair is less likely to be frizzy,” Dr. Garshick adds.

    “Filters can support a healthy skin barrier, they can make the skin feel better, (not laden with residue) , and leave your hair [feeling good],” Dr. Gohara emphasizes. Filtered shower heads may help leave both the hair and the skin feeling softer and smoother, according to Dr. Garshick.

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    What Contaminants Do Filtered Shower Heads Remove?

    “Hard water refers to water that has a high mineral content, specifically referring to magnesium and calcium,” Dr. Garshick told us. “When washing with hard water, it may be harder to establish a lather with shampoo and the hair may feel like it has a film on it.”

    Filtered shower heads are designed to remove various contaminants from water, but their effectiveness varies depending on the specific filtration system used. Generally, filtered shower heads can remove chlorine, chloramines, heavy metals, sediments like sand and rust, and volatile organic compounds.

    However, not all filtered shower heads can remove all types of contaminants. While certain filtered shower heads may have limited ability to reduce the effects of hard water by incorporating materials like calcium sulfite or activated carbon, many filtered shower heads may not entirely eliminate the presence of minerals that contribute to water hardness including calcium and magnesium.

    It’s important to recognize that filtered shower heads are not designed to remove bacteria and viruses from water. They also have limited effectiveness in removing pesticides and herbicides from water. These pathogens and chemicals can be challenging to remove and may require specialized filtration systems.

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    Why Trust Us

    Men’s Health editors and contributing writers are constantly testing and reviewing all the best home health products. Our writers and editors are experts in their own right, using their informed opinions to select products and ensuring that our content is of the highest quality. Our in-depth guides on the best air purifiers, sleep tech, anti-snoring pillows, and more provide all individuals (but especially men) with the best products and information to optimize their health at home.

    The product recommendations featured in our articles are purely editorial, and while we may receive free products to test and review, we only recommend the products we are most impressed by. We never let retailers or public relations professionals dictate our content or product coverage, which is why you can trust us to provide you with reliable and unbiased product recommendations.

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    Headshot of Mona A. Gohara, M.D.

    Mona Gohara, M.D. is a Yale-trained, board-certified dermatologist, Oberlin College-bred feminist, medical media expert, fashion fanatic, mom, wife, and virgo. Mona enjoys educating on skin health, skin cancer, skin of color, and sun protection. She has done this through writing, lecturing on the local, national, and international levels, and by engaging popular media. Mona is an active member of the American Academy of Dermatology, where she chaired the social media task force, The Women’s Dermatologic Society where she serves as president, and The American Society For Dermatologic Surgery, where she chairs the DEI Work Group. She is also a member of Prevention’s Medical Review Board.

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