Best Shower Filters in 2023 – A Comprehensive Guide

best shower filters

You may already be familiar with the benefits of using water filters for cleaner, healthier drinking water. But did you know those same benefits apply to using shower filters?

One needs to remember that the skin is the largest organ in your body and when we take a hot, steamy shower, our skin literally soaks up a huge amount of the toxins in the water. And bear in mind that most tap water does contain chemicals and other contaminants.

Of serious concern, studies show that there are negative health impacts related to the chemicals in our tap water, ranging from mild irritation to significant health issues, including cancer. Among them, an excess of calcium and magnesium (the most common culprits in tap water) can also have a negative effect on hair strength and skin regeneration.

So, if you aren't comfortable drinking water straight out of your tap, you probably don't want your skin to be soaking up all that unfiltered water either.

The good news is that good shower filters can remove a significant amount of the contaminants in your water, making your shower not only enjoyable, but safe for you too. Now, there are plenty of shower filters out there to choose from, but as we are about to find out, only a handful can be relied on to completely filter our tap water of everything that might cause us harm in the long run.

In this article, we will cover:

  • Common toxins found in tap water and associated health risks
  • Benefits of using a shower filter
  • Types of shower filters and what to look for
  • Our recommendations for best shower filters

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Common Contaminants Found in Tap Water and Their Health Impact

contaminated tap waterThe Environmental Working Group (EWG) reports that more than 320 toxic substances have been found in U.S. tap water.(1)

Common contaminants found in tap water include chlorine, chloramines, lead, mercury, VOCs, pesticides, herbicides, pharmaceuticals, MTBE, and cysts (parasites).(2)

  • Chlorine and chloramines are commonly used by municipalities to treat water to control microbes, pathogens, and microorganisms. Although not too dangerous with minimal exposure, repeat contact and ingestion can cause dry skin, hair loss, and irritation of the eyes and nose. Chloramine will also bond with elements that occur naturally in water, which may pose a carcinogenic risk to the skin.
  • Lead can cause some pretty serious damage to your general health, primarily causing high blood pressure, fertility issues, memory loss, anemia, kidney problems, and a host of other nasty issues including miscarriage and mood disorders. While it doesn’t occur naturally, older lead piping and service lines tend to corrode over time, which releases hazardous amounts of lead into the water.
  • Mercury tends to be found in natural deposits and rarely makes its way into wells and natural springs. The reason why mercury can be found in tap water is due to industrial refining, landfill runoff, factory discharge, and to a lesser degree, erosion of natural deposits. Exposure to mercury can cause serious kidney damage depending on the intensity and frequency of the exposure.
  • VOCs can be found in a variety of products nowadays, so it should come as no surprise that they sometimes make their way into our drinking and bathing water. We refer to VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds) when we talk about a variety of chemicals emitted as gases by many industrial processes, so the contaminating risks can be quite broad and difficult to predict.
  • Pesticides and herbicides get into our drinking water by means of accumulation in the soil and water sources after getting carried there by rainfall and irrigation. Although water treatment plants employ elaborate filtering and detoxifying systems, they are never 100% effective at eliminating all chemical dangers. When they get inside our bodies, pesticides and herbicides interfere with our hormonal activity and even damage fertility in young adults.
  • Pharmaceuticals end up in our drinking water via improper disposal and ill-managed manufacturing facilities. For the most part, they come from prescription drugs, supplements, and veterinary medication. The degree to which they are filtered by water treatment plants tends to differ from one facility to another, and they end up posing serious health risks through extended exposure.
  • MTBE is commonly used in gasoline and gasoline derivates to reduce carbon monoxide from auto emissions. Unfortunately, Methyl Tertiary Butyl Ether (MTBE) tends to leak into the water through seepage, spills, and discharge from water engines. Know that regular exposure to MTBE can cause serious skin irritation and trigger allergies in people with sensitive skin, so make sure that you invest in a filter that can deal with it to a reasonable degree.
  • Cysts and parasites are commonly found in rivers, lakes, and large bodies of water. They usually enter the water supply through sewage, but they may also occasionally escape the filtering process at water treatment plants if the facilities are improperly equipped to deal with them. The fact that some cysts are resistant to water disinfection should also give you pause, especially considering the biological hazard they pose.

Benefits of Using a Shower Filter

benefits of shower filterThe most important benefit of using a shower filter is reducing your exposure to chemicals like lead, chloramines, and mercury that are linked to serious health impacts, like lead poisoning, cancer, and kidney damage. These are the impacts you may not even realize that you are experiencing because they are initially less obvious.

The more obvious benefits of a shower filter are improvements to your skin and hair. Once you remove the harsh toxins in your shower water, you may experience healthier hair with more shine and less frizz, a healthier scalp with less flakiness, softer skin that is less dry and irritated, a reduction in eczema or psoriasis symptoms, and possibly a reduction in allergy symptoms.

What to Look For in a Shower Filter

Though most shower filters seem to boast similar key features, it's their specifications that set them apart. While all shower filters serve the same general purpose, their operational standards can differ quite a lot depending on how they're built and what their intended purpose is. You should select a shower filter based on your specific water quality situation or health needs.

Types of Shower Filters (the assembly)

Given the sheer diversity of filters one can choose from, it certainly helps to understand that not all filters are built to meet the same structural standards. Judging by popularity alone, shower filters fall into three categories:

  • Showerhead filters - These filters function the same way as typical showerheads, even though they're usually bigger and bulkier than standard shower heads.
  • Inline shower filters - Inline filters can be installed between any standard showerhead and the waterline on account of the fact that they do not come with a showerhead of their own.
  • In-line and showerhead filters - These bulky filters include not just the filter but the whole shower assembly. As such, they contain the shower head, the filter cartridge, and the in-line unit that you have to install straight into the water line.

Filtration Type and Cartridges (what they filter)

While all shower filters remove contaminants and mineral deposits, the degree to which these contaminants get filtered can differ depending on the type of filtering each unit employs.

On average, you have your KDF filters, multi-level carbon filters, and vitamin C filters. While KDF filters aim to filter out bacteria and viruses, multi-level carbon filters are best used to remove contaminants and harsh chemicals.

Vitamin C shower filters, on the other hand, are mostly used for removing chlorine and chloramine particles. Bear in mind that Vitamin C filters alone don't really do that good of a job against heavy metals, contaminants, and bacteria, so make sure that they work in tandem with either a carbon or a KDF filter.

Construction (what they're made of)

When it comes to how they're built, we see that most of the popular shower filters share a number of key features regardless of their particularities, although their material and structural build may differ quite a lot.

With that in mind, know that inexpensive models are usually made from plastic and that they're much easier to maintain. Their greatest disadvantage, of course, is how easily they get damaged over time and how easily they may develop outer cracks.

Water filters made from metal (preferably stainless steel) are a much better choice in that regard. Designed to be rust-proof, these filters commonly deliver a more consistent shower filtration due to how steadily they fit on the inline.

Adjustability

Adjustability also plays an important role when determining the overall quality of a shower head filter. In principle, you want a filter that will fit your shower specifications to the smallest detail.

Bear in mind that an improperly installed showerhead filter is sure to leak around the edges and may even damage your inline. This is quite common with cheaper handheld shower heads that involve a lot of additional accessories.

Filter Life

Depending on the type of shower head and the filter, the time between filter changes may vary quite a lot. A good filter can filter up upwards of 10,000 gallons of water before needing a replacement, so you could probably gauge how many uses you can get out of one according to how often you use it and how long you spend in the shower on a regular basis.

Also worth mentioning is that the mineral content in your water greatly affects the lifespan of a filter, regardless of its type and size. To be on the safe side, you should probably have a replacement filter on hand every 6-8 months or so.


Best Shower Head Filters and Brands

Now let's get into the actual reviews.  We cover seven of the most popular shower filters from top brands. These are all available to purchase on Amazon.

1. AquaHomeGroup Luxury Filtered Shower Head Set

Aqua Home Shower Filter

AquaHomeGroup Luxury Filtered Shower Head Set, 20 Stage Shower Filter. Image via Amazon.

  • Attachment: Wall Mount
  • What gets filtered out: Chlorine, heavy metals, rust, sand, and other sediments
  • Filtration type: Internal filter cartridge - Vitamin C + E + A
  • Filtering materials: KDF 55, Alkaline Ceramic Balls, Activated Carbon, and Calcium Sulfite
  • Filtering stages: 20
  • Settings: Rain
  • Construction: Bronze, plastic, Nickel, Copper
  • Ease of assembly: Easy

The AquaHomeGroup Luxury Filtered Shower Head Set with a 20-stage shower head filter is designed to significantly reduce exposure to heavy metals, chlorine, rust, sand, and many other sediments.

The filter uses alkaline ceramic balls, calcium sulfite, activated carbon, and a handful of other filtering materials to guarantee a high degree of water purification, which is precisely what you want from a high-end shower filter.

What's more, the filter also benefits from a very sturdy bronze, nickel, and copper construction that not only makes it very resistant to repeated and prolonged usage but also ensures its long-lasting durability.

Also worth mentioning is that along with the shower head comes a gift box that contains five shower caps and Teflon tape as an added bonus.

What we liked:

  • It comes with a vitamin C filter cartridge built into the showerhead
  • Easy to install without the need for any additional tools
  • A fairly stylish design allows it to fit into any bathroom
  • Perfect for well water because it removes heavy metals considerably

What we didn't like:

  • You have to let it run for a few minutes before the filtering process actually starts
  • Some plumber tape may be needed to prevent unwanted drips

View on Amazon: AquaHomeGroup Luxury Filtered Shower Head Set


2. Aqua Earth Shower Filter For Hard Water

Aqua Earth Shower Filter

Aqua Earth Shower Filter For Hard Water to Remove Chlorine & Fluoride. Image via Amazon.

  • Attachment: Screw-in
  • What gets filtered out: Chlorine, iron, copper, sediment, chloramine
  • Filtration type: Vitamin C filter, Ceramic Balls, Magnetic Energy Balls
  • Filtering Materials: KDF 55, Activated Carbon, Calcium Sulfite, Medical Stone
  • Filtering stages: 15
  • Settings: Works with overhead, handheld, rainfall, and combo shower heads
  • Construction: ABS Plastic
  • Ease of assembly: Very easy

The Aqua Earth Shower Filter is perfect for dealing with hard water and the effects it has on your piping, your plumbing, your appliances, and your general health.

Thanks to an ingenious design with built-in filtering systems, this shower filter removes heavy metals and other sediments from the water in a quick and efficient manner.

Providing consistent water pressure at all times, this shower head inline filter doesn't really increase pressure but rather stabilizes it for an improved rinse.

Although it looks a bit intimidating on account of its bulbous form, the Aqua Earth Shower Filter doesn't really take up a lot of space, nor is it difficult to install. In fact, you can set it up with virtually no additional tools to speak of.

What we liked:

  • Delivers a much more consistent water pressure than your standard showerhead
  • Has a built-in filter for both chlorine and heavy metals
  • Very accommodating - fits overhead, handheld, rainfall, and combo shower heads
  • Finely filtered water can inhibit the growth of scale in the bathtub

What we didn't like:

  • The shower spout needs to be pretty tall on account of the filter's considerable size
  • May smell a bit like rubber at first

View on Amazon: Aqua Earth Shower Filter For Hard Water


3. SparkPod High Pressure Shower Filter Head

SparkPod shower filter

SparkPod High Pressure Shower Filter Head. Image via Amazon.

  • Attachment: Wall Mount
  • What gets filtered out: Chlorine, heavy metals, hard water
  • Filtration type: Multi-stage Activated Carbon and Vitamin C with Mineral/Ceramic Balls
  • Filtering Materials: KDF 55, Calcium Sulfite, Ultra Fine PP Cotton
  • Filtering stages: 16
  • Settings: Full body rainfall, Power focused spray, relaxing massage
  • Construction: ‎Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene, Chrome
  • Ease of assembly: Easy

Designed to act as both a water filter and a softener, the SparkPod shower filter can remove impurities and allergens from the water on one hand, and deal with hard water on the other.

Interestingly enough, this particular shower head filter uses high-grade activated carbon and vitamin C with mineral balls to filter chlorine and heavy metals.

At the same time, it features an easy-to-twist spray selector mechanism that makes it easy to alter the water flow in a quick and timely fashion.

Also worth mentioning is the fact that it can be set up easily by latching onto any ½ shower pipe without the use of any tools or additional accessories.

What we liked:

  • The filter uses ceramic balls to remove harmful contaminants to an impressive standard
  • Features 3 relaxing spray settings to choose from for a massage-like shower spray
  • It comes with leak-free threads and housing for easy installation
  • Quite affordable considering its high-end construction quality

What we didn't like:

  • Water pressure may be a little slow when using it for the first time
  • A bit noisy compared to other filters in the same price range

View on Amazon: SparkPod High Pressure Shower Filter Head


 4. AquaBliss High Output Revitalizing Shower Filter

AquaBliss shower filter

AquaBliss High Output Revitalizing Shower Filter. Image via Amazon.

  • Attachment: Screw-in
  • What gets filtered out: Chlorine, pesticides, pharmaceuticals, sediment, odors
  • Filtration type: Multi-stage sediment filter with activated carbon and calcium sulfite
  • Filtering Materials: Redox media, ceramic beads, zeolite, vitamin C
  • Filtering stages: 15
  • Settings: Rain, fixed, and handheld compatible
  • Construction: Chrome
  • Ease of assembly: Easy

AquaBliss is a leading water filter manufacturer at this moment in time and the AquaBliss High Output Revitalizing Shower Filter shows us exactly why that is.

Much more resistant to hard water than most shower filters in its class, this particular filter eliminates hazardous chemicals and impurities to quite an impressive standard.

Its multi-stage, 12-part health filter works by removing chlorine, pesticides, and pharmaceuticals, and helps control scale buildup while dealing with hard water in real time without affecting water pressure in any noticeable way.

What’s more, it benefits from an easy no-tool installation design that allows for a very easy installation. In all fairness, this should be seen as an absolute necessity for any decent shower filter.

What we liked:

  • It deals with hard water effectively, which greatly reduces hair loss over time.
  • Balances PH levels while reducing chlorinated content.
  • Works with virtually any handheld shower head with no limitations whatsoever.
  • The manufacturer offers excellent customer support.

What we didn't like:

  • Constant exposure to hot water will strain the filter.
  • It may leak ever so slightly with some showerheads.

View on Amazon: AquaBliss High Output Revitalizing Shower Filter


5. Aquasana AQ-4100 Deluxe Shower Water Filter System

Aquasana shower filter

Aquasana AQ-4100 Deluxe Shower Water Filter System with Adjustable Showerhead. Image via Amazon

  • Attachment: Screw-in
  • What gets filtered out: Chlorine, pesticides, lead, hydrogen sulfides, volatile organic compounds
  • Filtration type: Two-stage coconut shell carbon and KDF copper/zinc
  • Filtering Materials: Copper, zinc, coconut shell
  • Filtering stages: 2
  • Settings: Rain, massage mode
  • Construction: Iron, copper
  • Ease of assembly: Easy

By combining coconut shell carbon and a KDF copper/zinc filter, the Aquasana shower filter AQ-4100 can remove almost all heavy metals and hard chemicals in the water without interfering with water pressure.

This is something we see more and more in shower filters these days and it’s a trend that we hope continues for a very long time. We say this because the process removes hydrogen sulfite, lead, chlorine, pesticides, and a wide array of volatile organic compounds.

Interestingly enough, this type of filtering also enhances the taste and smell of the water, resulting in a much more enjoyable showering experience overall.

We should also point out that the AQ-4100’s filters can last up to 8 months before needing replacement, which is to be expected from any high-end shower filter at the moment.

What we liked:

  • Unlike other filters, the AQ-4100 only targets select contaminants.
  • It strongly discourages clogging and has almost no effect on water pressure.
  • Its ingenious upflow design maximizes contact between water and filtering components.
  • Features an adjustable multi-setting massage head.

What we didn't like:

  • The housing is a bit fragile
  • Not that great with well water.

View on Amazon: Aquasana AQ-4100 Deluxe Shower Water Filter System


6. BWDM Enhanced Formula Multi-Stage Shower Filter

BWDM Shower Filter

BWDM Enhanced Formula Multi-Stage Shower Filter. Image via Amazon.

  • Attachment: Screw-in
  • What gets filtered out: Chlorine, heavy metals, sediment
  • Filtration type: Multi-stage filtration with activated carbon, calcium sulfite, and Coconut Carbon
  • Filtering Materials: PP Cotton, KDF 55, Japanese calcium
  • Filtering stages: 7
  • Settings: Rain
  • Construction: Stainless Steel & Chrome
  • Ease of assembly: Easy

The BWDM Enhanced Formula Multi-Stage Shower Filter benefits from a clever design that enables it to filter potentially dangerous elements in the water without impeding the flow of water while also dealing with excess pressure.

Speaking of design, you should know that its versatile build allows it to neatly fit into any professional showering/cleansing system, including shampoo sinks and salon handheld showerheads.

The consistent water pressure also deserves a mention. You see, the perfectly aligned filters allow the BWDM Enhanced Formula Filter to filter out all the impurities in the water without really restricting water flow.

That, on top of the enhanced multi-stage activated carbon formula, makes the filter a good choice for anyone who doesn’t want to trade water pressure for water quality.

What we liked:

  • Easy to install, the filter simply screws in without the need for any additional tools.
  • Features universal replacement cartridges that are easy to find and replace.
  • Works well with virtually any wall-mounted, handheld, rainfall, and combo shower head.
  • It filters hot and cold water equally well.

What we didn't like:

  • You will know when the filters need replacing because water pressure decreases substantially.
  • Doesn’t do a great job filtering chloramine.

View on Amazon: BWDM Enhanced Formula Multi-Stage Shower Filter


Shower Filter FAQs

 

Why Should I Use a Shower Filter?

A good shower filter will reduce your exposure to harmful chemicals, hard water, heavy metals, and bacteria. This, in turn, will greatly benefit your general health by limiting your contact with dangerous contaminants.

Is It True That Shower Filters Help With Dry Skin and Hair Loss?

Absolutely. By reducing your exposure to hazardous chemicals in the water, your scalp will be given time to regenerate, thus leading to reduced hair loss. Filtered water also poses a smaller health risk to your sensitive skin.

Do Shower Filters Come With Filtering Cartridges?

Most of them do. While some models use inbuilt filtering systems, the majority use replaceable cartridges that you can change with minimal effort at any given time.

How Often Should Filtering Cartridges Be Changed?

On average, your standard filtering cartridge will last you for up to 6-8 months. Bear in mind that showering frequency and water quality also affect how often you should replace the filters.

Can a Shower Filter Reduce Water Pressure?

They shouldn't. While this can't be said of all shower filters, the popular ones have almost no effect whatsoever on water pressure unless your bathroom already suffers from low pressure.


All Things Considered

Not many are those who understand that water preservation and waste reduction play an important role in protecting our environment.

By reducing the pollutants, contaminants, and dangerous chemicals in the water we use on a daily basis, we make it easier for water treatment plants to filter municipal water.

With that in mind, we could argue that the positive impact of using shower head filters is two-fold - it not only helps with waste reduction but also reduces our exposure to hazardous contaminants in the water and improves our general health.

Republic of Green

Republic of Green provides educational articles about green living and eco-friendly product reviews. Check out the News Section for more articles on topics like Green Home, Clean Personal Care Products, and Natural Health. You can also find environmentally-friendly businesses in the Republic of Green Business Directory.

References:

(1) https://www.ehn.org/drinking-water-pollution-2655521279.html

(2) https://www.aquasana.com/info/top-10-contaminants-found-in-tap-water-pd.html

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