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Do Shower Heads Help With Hard Water? Here’s What We Found Out

Whether you are dealing with hard water stains in your bathroom or your hair feels dry and brittle after a shower, you may wonder if a specially designed hard water shower head can help soften your water.

In short, a shower head cannot soften hard water. Therefore, the only reliable way to reduce the hardness of your water is by installing a water softener.

However, you can manage the symptoms of hard water by using a shower filter or incorporating specially formulated soaps, shampoos, and conditioners into your shower routine.

We explain more below.

What is Hard Water?

Water is considered “hard” when it contains high levels of dissolved minerals, such as calcium and magnesium. Hard water can cause various problems, such as making it difficult to rinse off (leaving a sticky or tacky feeling), causing soap scum, leaving behind spots on glasses and dishes, and making clothes feel stiff and scratchy.

Not everyone has hard water; some areas of the country are lucky enough to have naturally soft water. In fact, the USGS has a terrific map that shows the prevalence of hard water in the United States.

Are Hard-Water Shower Heads a Scam?

As with all companies and claims, it depends on what is being said.

Some companies make outrageous claims about their product, saying it will eliminate all hard water problems; this is not possible. No showerhead on the market can soften hard water.

However, some shower heads have filtration media designed to remove large sediment, chlorine, and more from the water. These specially designed shower filters can help reduce the buildup of minerals in your shower head and may slightly reduce hardness. However, they will not eliminate the problem.

Can You Ask the Water Treatment Plant to Do Something About Hard Water?

Not to our knowledge. Water treatment plants focus on treating or cleaning the water to make it safe for drinking. They don’t focus on the hardness of the water.

Skin & Hair

One of the symptoms of hard water is how your skin and hair react to it. When bathing and rinsing your body in hard water, one of the most common complaints is that the skin will feel tacky or sticky after showering, as it feels like the soap doesn’t fully rinse off.

Texture aside, repeatedly bathing in hard water can cause your skin to become dry and itchy – which can become especially worse during the dry winter months.

Additionally, hard water can play a role in hair health.

When the individual strands of your hair come into contact with the hard water, it leaves behind deposits of minerals which can make your hair feel brittle and dry.

Over several days of exposure to hard water, your hair will take on a dull appearance, look frizzy, and may experience dandruff.

Long-Term Effects

There are a few interesting studies where scientists measured the long-term effects of hard water on skin. While this goes outside the scope of our expertise, we wanted to share the studies nevertheless:

Your Options for Dealing With Hard Water

Ultimately, you have very few options at your disposal when it comes to softening hard water and reducing its effects on your skin and hair. The most effective option is to install a whole-house filtration system or a water softener.

This could be costly, but it will help you reduce the levels of minerals and make your home’s water softer and more enjoyable.

Another option is to use different grooming products designed for hard water, such as shower gels, shampoos, and conditioners. For example, the Malibu C line of products are well-reviewed and designed for hard water.

Malibu C Hard Water Wellness Collection – Hydrating Hair Care to Protect from Waterborne Elements – Removes Hard Water Deposits & Impurities from Hair
  • Rehydrate from Roots to Ends – A detoxifying, clarifying hard water hair care collection for damaged dry hair that deeply cleanses hair from the inside out while defending against harsh minerals, build up, and dryness with a boost of shine & hydration
  • Vitamin, Protein & Plant-Based Wellness Ingredients – This sulfate-free deep cleansing collection is infused with Provitamin B5, Vitamin C, Citric Acid, Flax & Rice Protein formulas to shield hair from harsh water minerals
  • Organic Conditioning Haircare for Buildup – This vegan conditioning formula for damaged hair serves as a dry hair treatment for all hair types; including colored & processed hair types. Revitalize your texture & moisture without any discoloration
  • How to Use – Apply clarifying shampoo to wet hair, then rinse. Follow with Hard Water Wellness Remedy by pouring crystals across wet palm. Rub hands together, adding water to dissolve crystals. Apply and scrunch throughout hair, then allow to remain on hair for up to 5 minutes. Rinse. Re-apply shampoo and rinse thoroughly. Follow with Malibu C Hard Water Conditioner by applying it from mid-lengths to ends. Lather and rinse. For best results, use regimen at least once a week
  • Vegan Hair Care Wellness – Make your hair glow with Vitamin C hard water hair products for dry hair. Malibu C is 100% vegan, eco-friendly, cruelty-free, paraben-free, sulfate-free & plant-based

You can also use a shower filter to manage the problems caused by hard water by adding in vitamins and stripping out contaminants, including chlorine, pesticides, and heavy metals. However, shower filters do have some drawbacks as they require frequent replacements of their cartridges, cannot remove chloramines, and can make your shower head substantially lower.


So before you click buy now on that hard water showerhead, take a moment to consider your options. A showerhead alone can do little to soften the water, and the claims made by some vendors are dubious at best. The best solution is to install a water-softening system for your house. Though it can be costly, this will help reduce the levels of minerals in your water and make it easier to manage your skin and hair.

In the end, if you are dealing with hard water, know that there are solutions out there that can help make your home’s water more manageable—and your skin and hair healthier and more beautiful.

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Frank Harmenstein

From humble beginnings as a plumber and handyman, Frank Harmenstein has emerged as a leading authority on shower heads, a title he has earned through years of dedication and hard work. With over two decades of experience in the plumbing industry, Frank has developed an unrivalled expertise in the installation, maintenance, and repair of shower systems. His passion for shower heads has led him to write extensively on the subject, sharing his knowledge and insights with readers around the world.

Born and raised in a small town, Frank's interest in plumbing was sparked at an early age by his father, who was a respected plumber in their community. Inspired by his father's dedication to his craft, Frank pursued an apprenticeship in plumbing and soon discovered his niche in the world of shower heads. He quickly gained a reputation as a skilled handyman who could fix any shower-related issue and provide expert advice on selecting the perfect shower head for any bathroom.

After years of honing his skills and knowledge, Frank decided to share his passion for shower heads with a wider audience by becoming an author.