Water filtration is as old as time — ancient Sanskrit texts illustrate filtering water through sand and coarse gravel. In modern times, filters remove contaminants that water gathers along its travels to the tap. With a faucet or refrigerator filter set up in your home, you can sip the seasons away with water that’s safe and tastes good.
But what about your shower water? You may be surprised at the mineral and chemical stowaways hiding in your shower stream. Kitchen faucet water filters and shower filters aren’t too different, but the latter isn’t as well-known. Shower filters don’t only lead to cleaner showers — they can promote healthier hair and skin too.
Read on to learn more about shower filters, their benefits, and the different types to choose from.
Water Hardness and Why It Matters
The purpose of shower filters, like faucet or pitcher water filters, is to extract contaminants. But what does that mean?
While what you eat and the types of hair and skin products you use can play a role in the condition of your hair and skin, they aren’t the only sources for dull strands and irritation. If your beauty routine hits a dead end despite in-depth research and trial and error, hard water may be to blame.
Water hardness refers to higher mineral content, specifically that of calcium and magnesium. Soil differs with every location, so mineral levels do too. Whether in a big city or small town, there are two categories of water hardness: hard water and soft water.
Hard water is safe to drink, cook, and shower with. Unfortunately, safe doesn’t always mean kind. Hard water, heavy with minerals and chemicals, does not dissolve soap very well. Calcium and magnesium leave a film that’s tough to rinse off, which can make hair dry, dull, and straw-like. Plus, high levels of calcium and chlorine can dry and irritate skin, which can trigger breakouts and worsen certain skin conditions. Research shows that areas with hard water are associated with an increased risk of atopic dermatitis, also known as eczema, a condition that makes skin itchy and red.
Soft water has little to no magnesium and calcium. It easily dissolves soap, so bath and body products can do their jobs without a mineral barrier to face off against. Gentler than hard water, soft water doesn’t have the same contaminants that can flare up certain inflammatory conditions such as eczema and psoriasis — a condition that takes the form of red, itchy, scaly patches on the skin. As a result, you can see and feel your hair and skin’s natural moisture.
Benefits of Shower Filters
They remove harmful substances from water.
Chlorine and chloramines — the two main disinfectants used in public water systems — can drain the life out of healthy hair. When we shower or bathe in warm water, our pores open and are more prone to absorb contaminants, resulting in agitated skin. Filters remove these harmful contaminants, including viruses and bacteria.
They hydrate and soften hair and skin.
With fewer minerals and chemicals interrupting the lathering and rinsing process, you’ll be left with smoother hair and softer skin.
They can administer add-ons.
Along with sifting out minerals, some shower filters can have add-ons such as filter beads and scented cartridges. Filter beads are made of different mineral rocks. Alkaline tourmaline beads, for example, may reduce stress and improve blood circulation. Scented cartridges come in plenty of scents from lemon to vanilla. Water passes through the beads and/or cartridge and through the filter, creating a relaxing aromatherapy session. With add-ons, you can transform a regular old shower into a spa-like experience.
Types of Shower Filters and Cartridges
There are several types of shower filters to choose from. Some are more effective than others and some are easier to install or maintain. Read on to see which one will suit your needs.
Types of Shower Filters
Showerhead filters look like showerheads — revolutionary, right? They replace your whole showerhead with another that has a built-in filtration system. But if changing entire showerheads sound intimidating, don’t worry. You can also choose a detachable spray nozzle with a built-in filtration system.
Inline filters are tucked in between your showerhead and water line. They consist of cartridges with multiple layers that remove pollutants as water goes through each layer. Inline shower filters are easy to maintain and most cartridges last six months to a year. Like a printer, you open the body of the inline shower filter to swap in a new cartridge.
- Inline and Showerhead
Inline and showerhead filters combine both designs to get rid of as many pollutants as possible. Water passes through two filtration systems for double the protection.
Types of Shower Filtration Cartridges
- Multi-Level Carbon
Multi-level carbon filters have multiple layers of carbon and other media to filter out contaminants. Each layer targets different pollutants. Carbon is most effective at removing chlorine, sediment, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and tastes or odors through physical absorption. These are great for people on a budget.
- Kinetic Degradation Fluxion (KDF)
Kinetic degradation fluxion filters are made of copper and zinc. The two metals together cause an electrical-chemical charge that affects the water around it. During this reaction, elements in the water exchange electrons and create new elements. For instance, chlorine will turn into chloride, which is much safer. This type of filter also removes heavy metals.
- Vitamin C
Vitamin C filters and their effectiveness are still up for debate. They neutralize chlorine and chloramine, but not much else. When used topically, research suggests vitamin C may help build collagen, which can improve the condition of hair and skin.
While you won’t exactly see the minerals and chemicals in your shower or bath water, you may see their effects on your hair and skin. Luckily, shower filters are an easy addition to your beauty routine.