The Independent’s journalism is supported by our readers. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn commission.

9 best shower heads: Practical designs to refresh any bathroom

From oh-so-chic to water saving designs, these are sure to make a splash

Tamara Hinson
Friday 16 July 2021 16:52
<p>If you’re in a hard water area, go for a protruding rubber-coated nozzle to make it easier to remove any limescale </p>

If you’re in a hard water area, go for a protruding rubber-coated nozzle to make it easier to remove any limescale

Today’s shower heads are easy to fit, easy to use and incredibly clever, offering multiple spray patterns which can be changed with the flick of a switch or the press of a button. And we’re not talking about wall-mounted controls either – a growing number of shower heads have headset controls, making it ridiculously easy to fine-tune your shower power.

We’ll try and keep the technical talk to a minimum, but the majority of wall-mounted shower heads have universal fittings, which means they’ll almost always be easy to replace. However, we’d advise keeping a pair of pliers to hand, some WD40 (if your old shower head refuses to budge) and a roll of PTFE tape, which can be used to wrap around the thread of the new shower head to ensure a watertight fit.

It’s also worth thinking about the GPM (grams per minute) although frustratingly, it’s rarely listed. The GPM relates to the water force, and most UK showers have a GPM of around 2.5. A shower head with a lower GPM is generally considered a water-saving one. However, make sure you consider the placement of the nozzles. Some shower heads feature nozzles placed at angles which help to create the sensation of a torrential downpour without using ridiculous amounts of water.

Another nozzle-related tip? Take a second to think about how hard your water is. If you’re in a hard water area, concealed nozzles are more likely to become clogged with limescale, while protruding, rubber-coated ones will be easy to clean. If limescale is a big concern, look for a shower head with coatings made from hydrophobic polymers, which can help to resist limescale build-up.

So how did we test our shower heads? With a lot of showering, to put it simply. And while we’re probably cleaner than we’ve ever been in our life, we also put in the hours, unscrewing and screwing on heads and hoses and obsessing over nozzle placement, size and depth. In summary? You can guarantee these shower heads won’t let you down. In fact, we’re pretty sure baths will look rather boring from this point on.

Read more:

The best shower heads for 2021 are:

  • Best for power showers – Croydex aqua air varone 5 function shower handset: £22.99, Robertdyas.co.uk
  • Best for fun – Red Candy roarsome dino shower head: £19.90, Redcandy.co.uk
  • Best for practical design – Triton iris shower head: £29.99, Screwfix.com
  • Best for ease of use – Wilko 3F push button hand shower: £8, Wilko.com
  • Best for looks – Harbour status matt black shower rail kit: £69.99, Drench.co.uk
  • Best for toughness – Triton 8000 care five spray shower head: £28.60, Amazon.co.uk
  • Best water flow – Methven aio aurajet handset: £74, Homebase.co.uk
  • Best for minimalistic style – Grohe rainshower 130 SmartActive cube hand shower: £89.42, Grohe.co.uk
  • Best value – Dunelm bathroom basics 3 function excel shower head: £8, Dunelm.com

Croydex aqua air varone 5 function shower handset

Best: For the power showers

Rating: 10/10

Upgrade your shower power with this super shiny head, which offers five different spray patterns (bubbling, massaging, saturating, saturating bubbling and saturating massaging) and weighs next to nothing. A pre-installed eco function means you’ll use 50 per cent less water than with a standard shower head (but trust us, you won’t notice the difference) and it was incredibly easy to connect to our existing shower hose. The blurb states that a so-called Aqua Air feature creates supersized water droplets and although we can’t say we noticed the difference, we were blown away (not quite literally, but almost) by the force of the water spray, most notable when used on the massaging setting.

Red Candy roarsome dino shower head

Best: For fun

Rating: 8/10

If this shockingly bright dinosaur-shaped shower head won’t jolt you awake in the morning, nothing will. It will fit onto most shower pipes – you’ll simply need to use an adjustable wrench to remove the existing shower head, wrap a few lengths of the Teflon tape provided around the shower pipe’s thread, then attach your roarsome new shower head. A word of warning, however, while Red Candy’s dino-themed delight is a brilliant option for eco warriors, if you prefer a power shower this probably isn’t for you – it’s marketed as a water-saving head, and has a GPM (gallons per minute) rating of 1.8, while standard shower heads have a GPM of 2.5 GPM.

Triton iris shower head

Best: Practical design

Rating: 8/10

Say hello to one of the most stylish shower heads we’ve ever seen – an o-shaped head with a strangely beautiful petal-like pattern of water jets and an ultra-shiny chrome finish. We found the smooth, flat head surprisingly easy to clean, and it’s incredibly light, something which enhanced its maneuverability. Its universal design means it will fit onto any shower hose, and we appreciated the presence of a meshed rubber bung to catch any unwanted extras being flushed along the pipe from the water tank towards our shower head.

Wilko 3F push button hand shower

Best: For ease of use

Rating: 7/10

The downside about this shower head? You’ll wonder why you spent so much money on your last shower head, when this one does everything offered by models costing three times the price. It’s incredibly light, took seconds to fit and has mist, shower spray or shower spray and mist functions, which can be selected using the button on the handle (we loved the button’s chunkiness – a godsend during those inevitable moments of soap sud-induced blindness). We also appreciated the paddle-like width of the head itself – laser-like streams of water simply mean more time in the shower but with this one, a wide dispersal area meant we were sud-free in seconds.

Harbour status matt black shower rail kit

Best: For looks

Rating: 8/10

A minimalistic, monochrome marvel, this beautiful matte black shower head (and yes, we did just use those words in conjunction with what’s effectively a piece of plumbing) is part of a kit which includes an all-black shower hose and wall rail. There aren’t any options to tweak the spray pattern, but we suspect the target customer isn’t the kind of person who’d be bothered by their absence – this shower head is all about stylish simplicity. It’s also a fantastic option for anyone who loves a bit of bathroom-related coordination; products from the same range include everything from bathrobe hooks and soap dishes to toilet roll holders and heated rails for towels.

Triton 8000 care five spray shower head

Best: For toughness

Rating: 9/10

This is another stylish shower head with a great range of spray options – choose from jet, massage, rain, full or drench, and switch between each with a simple tweak of a lever-like on the bottom of the head. We loved the rugged feel of this shower head, especially given that we live in a hard water area, where shower heads which stand up to thorough, regular deep cleans are worth their weight in gold. Like most shower heads, it’s got a universal hose fitting which makes it incredibly easy to attach.

Methven aio aurajet handset

Best: Water flow

Rating: 7/10

Picture a supersized sewing needle and you’ve got the Methven aurajet – a sleek, sexy sculpture-like shower head which blasts out a circular spray of water. So how does it do this? The secret’s in the concealed nozzles embedded in the contours of the halo-shaped head, as well as the angle of the nozzles, which apparently causes them to collide with surfaces inside the halo, resulting in the unique spray style. The blurb states that the spray force is 20 per cent more powerful than the average shower (which we can definitely believe), although we’re somewhat sceptical about the claim that there’s 20 per cent more water-on-skin contact – or why we should care. Afterall, if we step out of the shower feeling clean and refreshed, that’s good enough for us. On the plus side, there’s no denying this is a seriously powerful shower head, and one which will retain its looks too, thanks to the use of a hydrophobic polymer which resists the build-up of limescale.

Grohe rainshower 130 SmartActive cube hand shower

Best: For minimalistic style

Rating: 9/10

This shower head got an immediate gold star – it came with a hose (and a smooth-edged one at that) along with a wall fitting. Speaking of which, why do so many hoses have ridges? Because as someone who lives in a limescale-prone area (we suspect we might have mentioned our limescale issues before), we know all too well that limescale accumulates far more quickly on rigid hoses. Another downside to slinky-like ridged hoses? They’re more likely to twist, unlike this one, which stayed wonderfully kink-free. The individual rubber water spouts are also much easier to clean – rub a damp cloth over the head and the limescale simply breaks away. A button on the back changes the water pattern (choose between rain, massage or the surprisingly powerful jet setting).

Dunelm bathroom basics 3 function excel shower head

Best: Value

Rating: 9/10

We struggle to understand the high prices of certain shower heads. Unless it’s going to lather up the soap, crank up the temperature using voice control alone or clean the shower cubicle afterwards, is it really worth huge amounts of our hard-earned cash? This shower head is a brilliant example of one which does everything a shower head should do, but doesn’t cost the earth.  It’s incredibly easy to fit (and trust us, we’re notoriously bad DIYers), has three powerful spray settings and a gorgeous chrome finish which wasn’t just easy to clean, but stubbornly resisted the limescale build-ups which quickly tarnished previous shower heads. We also loved the extra-wide head, which ensured a waterfall-like drenching.

The verdict: Shower heads

Croydex’s aqua air varone 5 function shower handset looks fantastic, does everything that other far more expensive shower heads do and is effortlessly easy to install. And then there’s Red Candy’s roarsome dino shower head, which cranks up the fun factor without compromising performance. Finally, there’s Triton’s surprisingly beautiful iris shower head, which blasts out a wide, powerful spray guaranteed to blow away the cobwebs in record time.

Voucher codes

For the latest discounts on home fixtures and appliances, try the links below:

Why not upgrade your shower time with our best organic body washes that are kinder to your skin

IndyBest product reviews are unbiased, independent advice you can trust. On some occasions, we earn revenue if you click the links and buy the products, but we never allow this to bias our coverage. The reviews are compiled through a mix of expert opinion and real-world testing.