We spent over 40 hours testing and researching handheld shower heads to find the ultimate showering accessory. Our overall favorite, the Speakman Rio VS 1240, provides spa-like coverage and a wide variety of spray modes. We recommend it if you’re looking for a luxurious experience but also want to cut down on your water consumption, as it has an effective pause setting and an eco-friendly, WaterSense-certified option. We also recommend the Waterpik PowerSpray+ Twin Turbo – a great value pick – and the well-designed Moen Engage Six-Function hand shower.
Top 10 Bestseller Handheld Shower Heads
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Speakman Polished Chrome VS-1240 Rio Multi-Function
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The Speakman Rio takes our top spot because it provides a satisfying shower with great water coverage and pressure while also (somewhat paradoxically) helping you cut back on your water use. You might think that its larger face and 147 individual sprays would spread the water a bit thin and result in poor water pressure – as was the case with some other products we reviewed – but the Rio put out a consistently luxurious spray across all its five modes.
The spray modes are all distinct to cater to different showering preferences; there’s an intense drenching spray, a massage setting, rainfall, a pulsating spray, and a pause. Its pause setting is noteworthy because it was the most effective water-saving function of all the products we tested. For further water-saving, the Rio is also available in a lower flow rate option that meets WaterSense regulations. Aside from giving a great shower experience, the Speakman Rio is also a breeze to set up and start using. The product comes with everything necessary for installation and use, including plumber’s tape, an adjustable bracket, and a five-foot flexible metal hose. Though it’s larger than other showerheads we tested, the Rio is not awkward or unwieldy. The soft-grip handle prevents drops and slips when sudsy, and the lever that switches spray modes is easy to flip with your thumb.
- Effective pause feature
- Great coverage
- Distinctive spray settings
- Other models have slightly better massage functions
- Included bracket can be difficult to adjust
Waterpik Twin Turbo Handheld Shower Head
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The Waterpik PowerSpray+ Twin Turbo hand shower offers a lot of dynamic options and the most relaxing massage for a great price. Its spray modes stood out among the products we tested for their variety and wonderful water pressure. This shower head is definitely for you if you like higher-pressure showers, though it should be noted that some of the sprays could be a little too harsh for some people.
Waterpik doesn’t use significantly more water than other models, its OptiFLOW technology helps to maximize the force of the water. You can feel this in its six versatile settings, especially the Twin Massage setting in which two powerful streams of water converge and blast a single point. Though the shower head itself is easy to use and set up, the hose that comes with it doesn’t actually work well. In our testing, it got stuck in the holder and could be difficult to maneuver. However, this is relatively easy to fix. We recommend replacing the hose with something more flexible because even with the added cost of buying an extra hose, this showerhead is still less expensive than many other products we reviewed, and it gives you a satisfying, powerful shower.
- Best massage
- Great water pressure
- Unique settings
- The included hose is rubber and sometimes unwieldy
- No spray mode utilizes all nozzles
- Not the most visually appealing
Moen 26009 Engage Magnetix 2.5 GPM Handheld/Rain Shower Head
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The Moen Engage with Magnetix has a sleek, simple design, and its magnetic holder was our favorite feature of any shower head we reviewed. Apart from the novelty of it, the magnetic mounting makes taking the head on and off the shower arm completely effortless. Plus, it eliminates the possible frustration (and mess) of the shower head falling out of the holder.
Since the attaching magnet sits on the head of the shower itself, this product sits a little lower than other hand showers. It also comes with a kink-free metal hose and extremely straightforward installation instructions. We found that setting up the shower was almost as easy as using it. This product perfectly marries form and function. The design is great, but its performance also shines. The main shower setting is one of the best we tried with great, drenching pressure but not too much force. Its other five settings deliver good versatility, including a decent jet massage. The Engage is available in standard and Eco-Performance options with flow rates of 2.5 gallons per minute (GPM) and 2.0 GPM respectively.
- Magnetic holder
- Variety of spray options
- Water Pressure
- Other products provide better massage features
- No pause feature
- Sits lower than other shower heads, so maybe too short for tall people
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How We Tested
We started our evaluation process by doing a little online shopping. After compiling a list of shower heads that we might buy for ourselves, we made a really big spreadsheet with a dozen qualifiers to track each shower head’s features and attributes, and that helped us narrow down the selection. We decided to focus on handheld showers with multiple spray settings.
Once we arrived at our top 10 picks, we acquired them for testing. In order to test these shower heads for our side-by-side comparison, we figured that we would need to be able to test them side by side. We built a contraption, affectionately named the Multi-Shower, out of PVC pipe. It has 10 shower arms and flow diverters that let us install all 10 shower heads simultaneously. A series of volunteer testers showered, using each of the shower heads at least once, rating each on their performance (including water pressure, coverage, ease of use, setting variation and overall effectiveness), as well as noting the best and worst qualities of each. We also tested the showers for their advertised vs. actual flow rates at 48 psi and other metrics.
Our overall evaluations are heavily based on the products’ performance in testing, though we used our prior research to inform our scoring. We included important information such as color and finish options, product warranties, and whether or not the shower head was available in a WaterSense-certified option (required for some states).
Choosing a Shower Head
For many people, an invigorating shower is the best way to start the day. Since shower heads see so much use, it is important to find one that not only provides a satisfactory shower but also looks nice, is easy to upkeep, and maybe even helps you save some money on your water bill.
We found that the combination of water pressure and water coverage was the most important part of a good shower, much more so than the actual amount of water used. In fact, some of our favorite shower heads ended up using a gallon less water per minute than their advertised maximums. The actual amount of water each hand shower used did not seem to affect testers’ opinions on the product’s performance.
The best shower did not necessarily come from the largest shower heads, though our top pick is on that end. Other large products we reviewed scored far lower because of lackluster pressure, even though they had a wide coverage area. These products also tended to be on the high end of water use (though still lower than the advertised maximum).
Low water pressure can be caused by a number of things, including old plumbing or clogged equipment. Sometimes a good cleaning or replacing old pipes can fix your problem, but even with relatively low water pressure, you can still get a good shower. Some of the products we tested, like the YOO.MEE High-Pressure Handhelds were designed specifically to work under low-pressure conditions to give you a high-pressure shower.
Shower heads all tend to follow a similar form factor, but they’re definitely are choices and details that make some shower head designs stand out. Look for beautiful finishes that coordinate with your existing bathroom hardware. All the products we reviewed are available in a chrome finish, with some having one or two additional colors (one product we tested came to us in a bronze finish instead).
Apart from a product’s appearance, the design of the product can also affect its ease of use. You want to look for a shower head that is easy to maneuver, so an adjustable bracket and a long, flexible hose are great additions. Easy-to-clean or anti-clog nozzles can help prevent lime buildup and keep the water flowing. And because nothing ruins your groove like dropping your shower head and accidentally getting water everywhere, hand contouring or grip is important. Also, consider the quality of the product’s construction and what it’s made of; it’ll probably get dropped at some point, and you want to make sure it’s durable enough to survive.
WaterSense is an EPA certification that guarantees a shower head is designed to perform well with a maximum flow rate of 2.0 gallons per minute. This is a lower flow rate than the current maximum (2.5 GPM) allowed throughout most of the U.S., but the 2.0 GPM rate is required for some areas like California and Colorado, which have passed stricter statewide regulations.
For consistency, we tested product models with a max flow of 2.5 GPM, but all of our recommendations are available in both flow rates, and since the WaterSense certification process requires that products perform as well or better than non-certified, higher flow rate options, we’re confident you’ll get the same quality shower power we experienced throughout our tests with either option.
“But wait,” you might think, “Won’t low-flow fixtures actually wastewater since I’ll have to take longer showers to get clean?” Not necessarily. Low-flow water fixtures got a pretty bad rap in the early days for not being effective or efficient, largely because companies often kept the same product designs and just used less water to comply with regulations. However, these shower heads are now specifically designed to make the best use out of lower flow rates so you still get a satisfactory shower. Jackie Kossoff, a California resident who recently replaced all the bathroom fixtures in her house with WaterSense-compliant ones told us, “I don’t feel a noticeable change. I think my shower head is perfect, and I actually prefer it over my old one. And if a shower is great and you can also say it’s helping the environment, that’s cool.”
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