Do Shower Head Filters Work? What Are the Benefits?

by Ryan Fair / Jul 27, 2017
Do Shower Head Filters Work? What Are the Benefits?

Many of customers are constantly asking what are the benefits of adding a filtered shower head to your homes filtration arsenal. Studies found that filtering your shower’s water likely aids your health more than the tap water filter on your kitchen faucet.

While you’re scrubbing, cleansing, and exfoliating dirt and bacteria off your body, your shower head is actually spraying you with water laden with chemicals and creating steam that can be even more dangerous. This can cause an array of health problems, from skin dryness and irritation, to life-threatening diseases.

Basically, without a filter you are exposing your bodies largest organ (your skin) to the same chemicals and contaminants that are found in your drinking water. Through absorption and inhalation, you body may be taking on more chemicals through your daily showers than through your drinking.

Here’s an overview of the risks, demonstrated by medical science, the benefits of shower head water filters and if they are really necessary for every household.

1. Sickening Bacteria Grow In Shower Heads 

You probably don’t even think of what is actually coming out of your shower head when you turn on the water and start lathering your loofah. But Biology Professor Norman Pace of the University of Colorado claims that even if you shower by yourself, you’re not alone: millions of microorganisms and bacteria are piled up inside your unfiltered shower head, ready do rain down on you the minute you turn the faucet handle.

Pace lead a study in which 50 shower heads from across the country were tested to see how much gunk or sediment (what they called biofilm) was building up inside and what exactly was crawling around in that sediment.

  • His study concluded that 60% of the shower heads tested contained bacteria and microorganisms, the most prevalent being Mycobacterium avium, a pathogen that can cause pulmonary disease. The New York Times even reports about carcinogenic bacteria sprouting in your shower head.

It seems like this is all you need to hear before you decide that you need a shower filter, but the benefits of installing a shower filter reach far beyond gross shower head goo.

2. Filtered Showers Make Both Your Skin and Hair Healthier

There are some pretty convincing cosmetic reasons for getting a shower head filter. The problem with having even trace amounts of chlorine in your shower water is that it bonds to the skin and hair, removing moisture and disrupting the balance of necessary, helpful bacteria that resides on your body. 

  • This can result in dry, irritated skin. It can also contribute to premature signs of aging, such as discoloration and wrinkles. A shower filter neutralizes the chemicals, leaving your skin with a natural softness and luster that is noticeable the very first time you use it. Do you suffer from red, itchy skin after showering? A filter may help you out.
  • The same goes for your hair. Chlorine strips the natural oils that moisturize hair follicles and leaves you with dry, frizzy hair and a scaly, irritated scalp. Shower filters can restore your hair’s natural shine and texture, taming frizz and increasing elasticity. You wouldn’t be the first who got their youthful, soft glossy hair back. Plus, you’ll save money because you will no longer need to buy expensive conditioners, hot oil treatments, or trips to the hair salon for expensive coloring treatments. We have had multiple customers claim that they do not need to treat their scalp or even are keeping color in their hair for longer after switching to a filtered shower head.  
  • Chlorinated water speeds the aging process. Some studies show similar effects as to those from extensive sun exposure. EPA states the damage of chlorine like this: “chlorine byproducts trigger the production of free radicals in the body, causing cell damage, and are highly carcinogenic”.

People who switched to using a shower filter note that “the very first time you shower you can feel the difference in your hair and skin”. In other words, shower head filters make you look younger. 

3. More Chlorine Enters Your Body Via Inhalation While Showering Than Through Drinking Tap Water

The chemical chlorine, used by water treatment facilities, reduces pathogenic bacteria in our water yet its byproducts are hazardous to our health. When chlorine reacts with organic matter in water it forms disinfectant byproducts, aka trihalomethanes (THMs) one of which is the cancer-causing chloroform.

It is often claimed that, when showering (especially in warm or hot water) your pores open which leads to increased dermal absorption of toxic substances such as chlorine and its byproducts. By taking a shower without a water filter, you are even more susceptible to chlorine and chloramine than by merely drinking unfiltered water

Science News reported that researchers found increases in chloroform in study participants’ lungs of about 2.7ppb after a 10-minute shower. Combined with warm water opening pores, skin absorption and lung inhalation during a 10-minute shower showed to be greater than the amount that would be ingested by drinking 8 glasses of the same water.

Also, besides chlorine and chloroform there are other airborne chemicals that may be absorbed by open pores while showering. Generally, skin absorption and inhalation causes the chemicals to travel directly to the blood stream, contaminating your body quickly and causing irreparable damage.

  • A 1992 report by the American Journal of Public Health links a 15% to 35% increase in certain types of cancer among people who consume chlorinated water. This report also points out that much of these health risks were due to showering in chlorinated water.
  • What’s more is that the shower is the single biggest source of releasing water contaminants to the air of the home. When you shower, the chemicals present in the water vaporize at a much faster rate than the water itself. This creates VOC gases that contain much higher concentrations of the chemicals than the actual water. Such concentrations are thought to be 10 to 30 times higher.

A recent EPA report notes, “Virtually every home in America has a detectable level of chloroform gas in the air due to chlorine and showering.”

Even though study conclusions are sometimes inconclusive, the signs are clear. Chlorine and its byproducts are a cold hard fact and while showering you are exposed in two ways, dermal and via inhalation. So aside from the more aesthetic changes in your skin and hair, a quality shower filter helps protect your body on the inside.

4. Chlorinated showers may be risky for pregnant women

For women who are pregnant, a shower filter is vital in reducing chlorine exposure that may not only put the mother’s health at risk, but the unborn child as well.

  • A study conducted by a team in England determined that women who drank or took showers in unfiltered water laced with chlorine and chloramine contamination resulted in various complications with the pregnancy, including spontaneous abortions, stillbirth, low birth weight, premature delivery, and a spectrum of birth defects ranging from nerve damage to weak hearts.

Real conclusions can not be drawn from the limited studies, especially not since no studies specifically on the effects of showering in relation to pregnancy have been done. Considering the other health hazards it may be wise to be better safe than sorry though. 

5. Cleaner Showers and Shower Glass

One of the most noticeable occurrences of unfiltered showers is the the prevalence of water marks or sediment that collects on the shower glass or walls of the shower.  This is proof of the various chemicals and contaminants that are being shot out of the shower head. Using a filtered shower head will drastically decrease, if not completely eliminate, the water streaks you might find in your shower. It gives you peace-of-mind that the filter is working and makes it so that you do not need to be cleaning the hard-to-remove grime and water marks from your shower as often.  

A cleaner shower is always an extra plus to the reason to filter your shower water!


What Clearly Filtered Shower Head Is Right For You?

    Unfortunately this product has been discontinued. We are currently in the process of exploring options for a new and improved shower head in the future.


    How Do I Know When My Shower Head Filter Needs to be Replaced?

    Though it is nearly impossible to determine the exact amount of time that your shower head filter will last, we always look towards how often the filter is being used and what type of contaminants do you find in your local tap water. Our general rule of thumb, as with most of the Clearly Filtered products is:

    Single person (or low use): change your filter every 4-6 months

    Couples (or medium use): change your filter every 3-4 months

    Families (or high use): change your filter every 2-3 months

    Through this above filter change equation we have seen the average filter change for our shower heads land around every 3.5 months. One unique feature with the shower heads is you are able to see the filtration work as the filters are clear. As you can see from the photo below, a filter after 3 months can look drastically different than the day you install it because of the Chlorine and other chemicals it is able to capture prior to exiting your shower head.


    Do Clearly Filtered Shower Heads Fit Any Shower Fitting?

    Clearly Filtered Shower heads fit any standard shower head fitting. We have not come across any customers that our shower head does not work for. As long as your shower is built to code and is standard you should have no issues installing one of the shower heads.