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Best Shower Filters for Healthy Skin and Hair

There may be chemicals hiding in your water. Shower filters can help.

In this article:

In some places, shower water contains harmful contaminants, including heavy metals, asbestos, chlorine, fluoride and other chemicals and impurities. Even if you're confident your water is safe to drink, a lot of people report that using a shower filter gives them softer skin and healthier hair and helps fix all sorts of cosmetic annoyances. 

Think of using a filter for your shower water is like using a water filter pitcher to remove sediment and contaminants from your drinking water. You can get a high-quality shower filter that'll provide water filtration to protect you and your family from all the chemicals and metals in water for a relatively low price. 

Most of the best shower filters will work with your existing shower head, or there are shower head filters that replace your existing setup entirely (so you don't have to buy extra parts). Keep in mind that you'll eventually need a replacement filter, and those are an additional cost, so be sure to factor that into your decision-making process. Here are our top picks for the best shower filters you can buy. 

The best shower filters 

$70 at Amazon
You're receiving price alerts for Sonaki Inline Shower Filter

When it comes to the best shower filters, an activated carbon filter is the most effective choice for your showerhead. That's what you get with the Sonaki Inline Shower Filter. The granular activated carbon filter removes bacteria, chlorine, chloramine (another disinfectant that's sometimes used), heavy metals, rust and any other byproducts, so you can shower knowing that you're safe. Plus, it'll soften the filtered shower water so you can get softer hair than ever.

The Sonaki Shower Filter is an inline model, which means you won't need to buy a separate shower head. You simply screw the shower filter into the wall and the showerhead on the other side.

Cartridge lifespan: About 3 to 6 months

$39 at Amazon
You're receiving price alerts for QwenchPure KDF-55 Shower Filter

The QwenchPure KDF-55 Shower Filter is one of the best KDF filters available. KDF filters are made out of copper and zinc, two elements that create a small electrical-chemical charge between them. While it may seem counterintuitive to put more metal in your shower, a KDF filter is great for dissolving mercury, cadmium, arsenic, aluminum and even chlorine. You won't notice the electrical charge in your shower, but the heavy metals sure will. 

Installation for the QwenchPure KDF-55 Shower Filter is super easy. No tools are required, it just screws in behind your showerhead. It will also act partly as a water softener, reducing the minerals in your water.

Cartridge lifespan: Every 5 to 7 months

Aqua Earth
$33 at Amazon
You're receiving price alerts for Aqua Earth Vitamin C Shower Filter

The Aqua Earth Vitamin C Shower Filter is a great pick if your issue is chlorinated water. Vitamin C shower filters remove chlorine and chloramine fluoride by neutralizing it. However, it won't affect many other contaminants and impurities, So don't rely on it to filter out other minerals and metals. 

If you have confidence in the safety of your water but the chlorine that's in it gives you dry skin, the Aqua Earth Vitamin C Shower Filter is one of the best shower filters you can buy. Installation is a breeze; this filter can be attached to any shower head you already have.

Cartridge lifespan: Every 3 to 6 months

You're receiving price alerts for GE Universal Shower Filtration System

Like other household accessories, shower filters can quickly become expensive. If you're operating on a budget, consider the GE Universal Shower Filtration System. It retails for around $15. It's smaller than other shower filters, but just as easy to install. No tools are required; you just have to screw it in. 

The GE shower filter mainly gets rid of chlorine, but it's also capable of filtering sediment. The filter can last up to six months and it's compatible with any standard showerhead or shower fitting you currently use. It's a more basic option than other filters on the list, but it's a dependable option that's significantly more affordable than many others.

Cartridge lifespan: Every 6 months

Are there toxic metals in your household water?

Many countries, including the US, have a comprehensive set of guidelines to make sure that the harmful chemicals in your water, and your overall water quality, are being examined and regulated.

In the US, the EPA has legally enforceable standards for all different types of pollutants in your drinking water, as well as secondary concerns that may cause skin irritation or affect your hair. Your local water supplier should produce a new Consumer Confidence Report each year, and the EPA has a public database designed to let you easily look up the most recent tap water report for your area. You can read the report and see if there are any worrisome pollutant levels in your water, but you can also rest safe in the knowledge that if any water contaminants are over their legal limit, your community will certainly be notified.

If you're especially worried about lead, one easy way to mitigate that risk is to simply run the tap water a few minutes before using it. The most dangerous amounts of lead accumulate when the water has been sitting in your home's pipes overnight, so if you flush that water out of the lines, you'll be in better shape.

Lead and chlorine in drinking water

Even if your water smells and tastes fine, that doesn't mean your tap water is free of harmful chemicals. Water pollutants fall into different categories, but the ones of primary concern in your shower water are toxic metals, chlorine (used as a disinfectant) and the byproducts that chlorine creates with other chemicals in the water. Any of these can put a major crimp in your shower experience.

The main toxic metals that often hide in water are arsenic, lead, cadmium and mercury, all of which made the World Health Organization's Top 10 list of "chemicals of major health concern."


The lead from degrading plumbing can get into drinking water, causing all sorts of public health issues.

Getty Images

Lead is often deemed the biggest contaminant offender -- even if your water supply is pure, water slowly corrodes the lead in home plumbing systems, and the toxic metal seeps into the water. Children are at a particularly high risk for harsh chemicals and have been reported to absorb up to 50% of their lead through drinking water. Even at relatively low levels, the WHO reports, lead exposure can cause irreversible neurological issues. This is why water quality must always be a consideration.

Another main issue is connected to the chlorine that's used as a disinfectant in our drinking water. The major health concern is actually the byproducts created when chlorine reacts with natural organic matter in the water, creating harmful chemicals called THMs. You've probably heard of chloroform, which is just one common THM, and high levels of THMs act as carcinogens.

One study found that people absorbed more THMs from a 10-minute hot shower than from drinking a liter of water, so if you're concerned about this, a shower filtration system that is actively removing chlorine can be helpful.

Why you should buy a showerhead filter

Even if your water quality is perfectly safe, your hair and skin might still benefit from filtered water in their shower. For some people, the minerals and metals in their water wreak havoc on their hair. Water with high concentrations of minerals is known as hard water, and it runs through the pipes in many people's homes. Not sure if you have hard water? This USGS map can help.

Even more people say that a shower filter helped with itchy and dull skin, not to mention a flaky scalp. The reported effects of hard water on your hair and skin are backed up by science. The specific minerals in hard water make it difficult for soaps and shampoos to lather and do their job, so that icky feeling on your skin might actually be that it's not getting quite as clean. 

Read more: Best showerhead of 2023 

A lot of the hair and skin irritation has to do with the fact that soap and hard water react to form "scum," the white sticky layer left behind on your skin after soaping up. Have you ever noticed the white residue that builds up on your faucets that's hard to clean? It's the product of calcium and magnesium in your water, and that same residue builds up on your skin, too. The scum clogs your pores and can cover the strands of your hair so that your conditioner can't do its work, making sensitive skin and high-maintenance hair worse.

It's not just the metals and minerals in water that dry out your skin. Anyone who's spent time in a chlorinated pool knows how it seems to draw all the moisture out of your body, leaving you with crunchy hair and red, dry, itchy skin. 

The residual chlorine in shower water can create the same problems but on a much smaller scale, leaving you with skin that just can't get quite as soft as you'd like. Keep in mind that the chlorine in water is hard to remove, so you'll want to make sure the shower water filter you buy is capable of water filtration for removing chlorine.

How to choose the best shower filter for your home

There are loads of shower filters on the market. There are a couple of key components to assess while you're shopping to make sure you choose the right model for you. Some shower filters will not fit your specific needs. Here's what to look for when buying a shower filter. 

  • Filtering capabilitiesDifferent types of filters work better to remove different contaminants and sediment, so when you're looking for the best shower filter, you'll want to check out what's in your water and decide what's most important for you, whether that's a water softener, flow rate, water pressure, shower filtration or gallons of usage. 
  • Style: The best shower filters come in many forms. Some look like tanks you attach to your showerhead, some are built into a fixed showerhead, and others are available in a handheld showerhead. Each style is similar in effectiveness. However, depending on your shower, some may be a better fit. 
  • Lifespan: Filters don't last forever. Each of the best shower filters will have a limited lifespan before the filter needs to be changed. Most options generally need to be replaced every six months. It's important to be prompt about replacing the filter because they become less effective as time goes on. 
  • Installation: Most of the best shower filters are easy to install. However, some can be more involved than others. It's important to note the installation process before buying. 
  • Additional features: Some shower filters include scented oils or vitamin C. 
  • Cost: Another thing to keep in mind is that though the initial purchase for your water filtration might not be that high, you'll typically need to replace the filter or its internal cartridge every six months. So you should factor the price of replacement filters and cartridges into the shower filter cost while arriving at your budget for shower filters.

Best shower filter FAQ

Do shower filters really help?

The short answer is yes; shower filters work by collecting the excess traces of chemical components like chlorine or minerals. These components in your water can irritate your skin or contribute to brittle hair. Shower filters can help protect your hair and skin from metals and minerals in your water. 

Is it better to shower with filtered water?

Strictly speaking, not everyone needs a shower filter. However, if you live somewhere with mineral- or chlorine-infused water, consider its benefits for your hair and skin. Chlorine strips the hair and skin of its protective oils. Investing in a shower filter can ease your symptoms if your skin or scalp are dry and itchy. 

All things water

The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.