I keep seeing aromatherapy shower filters and shower heads advertised on social media that claim to be for dry, damaged hair and thinning hair. On instagram the advert says it uses aromatherapy oils to help the water smell nice and to reduce chlorine in the water which is bad for hair. Can you tell me if it's true? Will getting one of these filters reduce hair loss or at least make my hair look healthier?
Hi, Della. We know the adverts you mean! The short answer is no - these products are unlikely to have any effect on hair loss
unless you live in an area where the tap water is highly chlorinated.
is certainly bad for the hair in large amounts and can lead to it becoming weak and brittle, leaving it prone to hair breakage
. The resulting snapped ends can, in turn, cause the hair to look thin and frazzled. In extreme cases, chemical trauma
hairloss may also occur, though this is unlikely when washing your hair
using regular tap water.
According to the World Health Organisation's guidelines, the maximum amount of chlorine that should be permitted as a residual disinfectant in drinking water (tap water) in terms of health reasons, is 5 mg per litre. The organisation also reports that the amounts found in tap water in England and Wales are well below this guideline, stating 'most water companies aim to keep the level below 1 mg/l'. As such, the effect on the hair is likely to be negligible, making a shower filter that reduces chlorine is unnecessary.
- which these products often say they use in their filters to neutralise chlorine - is good for the hair due to the part it plays in maintaining the normal functioning of the immune and nervous system, and supporting collagen production for healthy skin. Unfortunately only tiny amounts of vitamin C - if any - will absorbed by the body from the shower head, given it is highly diluted and washes away, not staying on the skin for long enough to be of any meaningful benefit.
The effects of the promised aromatherapy
may help to relax you which is certainly beneficial as part of a wider approach to reducing or preventing hair loss from stress
. However, we always advise caution
when using aromatherapy essential oil products.
The shower heads these companies sell are likely to provide the same level of benefit without any of the filters, especially in areas where water pressure is low. Shower heads with this design - without any filters or aromatherapy add-ons - are known as 'ionic' and are both inexpensive and widely available. They are often marketed as environmentally-friendly, water-saving gadgets. They can also make your hair feel softer due to helping to reduce limescale; something that is particularly prevalent in hard water areas
and can cause the hair to feel dull and the scalp to become dry.
An example of a basic ionic shower head
The neck of these types of shower head is filled with mineral balls; as the water shoots up the hose it filters through these balls, which can result in a more powerful spray. Surprisingly this tends to feel gentle and provide better saturation than when the water shoots straight from the hose attached to the shower head. We have tried them and the effect is similar to the difference between the softness of champagne bubbles versus the harsh bubbles you find in fizzy drinks such as cola, or the soft rain that always leaves you soaked through, versus normal heavy rain fall, for example.
Though these types of gadgets appear to be more gimmicky than scientific, as long as the ingredients - particularly those used to provide fragrance - are not drying or likely to irritate the scalp, it's improbable that they would worsen the condition of your hair, and you may enjoy using them.
If you are experiencing thinning hair or excessive hair fall we would recommend consulting a professional so you can get a confirmed diagnosis as to what's causing it. From there, a specialist can also recommend a custom hair loss treatment
course tailored to your needs, if appropriate.
They can also suggest ways to improve the condition of your hair, whether that means dealing with breakage by getting a trim and using intensive restorative conditioning treatments, switching up your hairstyling practices, avoiding regular heat-styling
, or looking at aspects such as your diet
and how you can improve your intake of hair-friendly vitamins and minerals. In this respect, whilst not a substitute for a balanced diet, targeted food supplements
may be worth considering.