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Forget serums and styling products—the foundation for both your haircare and skincare routines starts in the shower. And we’re not just talking about the products you’re using, but the actual water itself. You’ve probably heard the term ‘hard water,’ but what is it exactly?
Hard water is simply water that has high mineral content, usually minerals such as limestone or chalk. (How can you tell if you have it? You may notice that your hair and skin feel super dry, and/or that you can’t get as much of a lather from your soap and shampoo.) Those minerals can quickly take a toll on your tresses; Not only is hard water is drying to the hair, but it can also discolor it, says Rex Jimieson, color educator and colorist at Maxine Salon in Chicago.
“Blonde or light-colored hair is particularly susceptible because it’s more porous and will absorb more of the minerals quite visibly,” he adds. They can also wreak similar havoc on your skin, leaving it dry and flaky, no matter how moisturizing your body wash is. Enter the beauty of a showerhead filter. Generally pretty quick and easy to install, they can drastically reduce not only the number of minerals that come in contact with your hair and skin but chlorine, too.
So if you want softer skin and smoother, shinier hair, install any of these top shower filters for hard water.
Best Overall: Sprite HE7-CM Hand Held Pure 7 Setting Shower Filter
Jimieson says this brand’s filter systems are his first choice, thanks to the affordable price, streamlined design, and efficacy. This one also pulls in great reviews, with shoppers noting how well it eliminates the unwanted effects of hard water. It comes with a 72-inch hose and anti-scaling spray tips that prevent build-up on the actual showerhead. Bonus points for seven different spray settings, ranging from an intense massage to rain-like mist.
Best With Benefits: AquaBliss High Output Revitalizing Shower Filter
Yes, this goes to town, purifying water and taking out everything from those hard minerals to chlorine to small sediment such as dust particles. But it then takes things one step further, by not only taking the bad stuff out but also adding in lots of good stuff. There’s far infrared technology that boosts negative ions and oxygen levels in the water, and it even releases vitamin C and certain beneficial minerals back into the H2O. It’s also easy to pop on, no tools required.
Best Splurge: T3 Source Showerhead Mineral Water Filter
When a brand known for its standout hair tools comes up with a filter, you know it’s going to be good. The filtration system relies on calcium sulfide, zinc, and copper to effectively reduce not only free chlorine but also all kinds of other impurities (and even odors). Also nice: Seven different spray settings, and a convenient indicator that reminds you when to change out the filter (every six months or 10,000 gallons). It’s a little pricey, yes, but we found it made a noticeable difference in our shower experience.
Best Design: Kohler K-30646-CP Aquifer Shower Filter
Simple and sleek, this is super easy to attach and won’t look weird or bulky in your shower. It does only work with handheld sprayer, but effectively filters out unwanted minerals, chlorine, and chemicals, too. Case in point: Happy customers repeatedly note how much it improved the look and feel of their hair.
Best Long-Lasting: Rainshow'r CQ-1000-NH Chlorine Reducing Shower Filter System
No matter which filter you go with, Jimieson points out that it’s important to change it out according to the manufacturers’ instructions. (Just like the filter you use for your drinking water, it will stop working after a while.) The standard for most options is generally every six months of 10,000 gallons, but this one can go up to nine months and 20,000 gallons. Not to mention that it also removes at least 90% of chlorine.
Best Budget: Limia's Care LC-SF3WF 15 Stage Shower Filter
Not only is this one affordable, it even comes with one extra filter included—for a total 12 months of efficacy—making this the most wallet-friendly option of the bunch. But don’t worry, it’s still super effective, thanks to a 15-stage filtering process that includes several different layers and methods of purification and mineral removal.
Best for Beginners: Culligan WSH-C125 Wall-Mounted Filtered Showerhead
There’s no need to call a handyman or even channel your inner Tim the Tool Man Taylor when installing this filter. The process takes just a few minutes; simply attach the head and wrap it with the included tape, no tools or extra assistance required. Along with filtering out minerals, it also limits the passage and growth of bacteria, always a good thing.
Why Trust Byrdie?
Byrdie contributor Melanie Rud has over a decade of experience in the beauty industry, writing for some of the biggest magazines and websites out there. She does, in fact, have a shower filter in her shower and has noticed a massive difference in how her hair and skin look since installing it.
Rex Jimieson is a colorist at Maxine Salon in Chicago. He often recommends shower filters to both his clients and colleagues and, as a colorist, repeatedly sees the effects they can have on hair firsthand.