Handheld High-Pressure, Massage & Combo Fixtures

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We’ve rounded up a few gems in the handheld category to show you! These are our favorite handheld options on the market today. They’re built ruggedly, they’re ergonomic, and they’re reliable investments for the long haul.

Our in-depth reviews will help you understand why we think our picks are so much better than the competition. Then, in our in-depth buying guide, you’ll learn how to find the best model for you!

Here’s a glance at our favorites, to get you started:

cheapest handheld model on the market
favorite handheld models
silver shower head
Moen Engage MagnetixHigh Sierra's Solid MetalHansgrohe Axor
Our Rating: 4.5
Popularity: High
Our Rating: 4.8
Popularity: Low
Our Rating: 5
Popularity: Low
Buy on Amazon
Buy on Amazon
Buy on Amazon

Handheld shower heads are one of life’s greatest pleasures. You can use them to massage sore muscles, to reach tricky spots, and to complement an overhead fixture.

Sadly, the majority of handheld shower heads on the market these days are crappy plastic junk. They break quickly, and are frustrating to use even when they’re intact.

Our recommendations are rarities on the market today. They’re built solidly, they’re user-friendly, and they should last you for years of relaxing service!

Best Handheld Shower Head Reviews

  • Moen 26100srn Engage Magnetix 2.5 GPM Handheld Shower Head Packagetop rated handheld shower head
  • Grohe Sena Stick Hand Shower
  • High Sierra’s Solid Metal Low Flow Handheld Shower Head Kit
  • Hansgrohe 28507821 Raindance E 120 AIR 3-Jet Hand Shower
  • Hansgrohe 16320821 Axor Montreux Handshower
  • Grohe Euphoria Cube 25” Retrofit Bundle
  • Hansgrohe 28110821 Raindance Allrounder AIR

1. Moen 26100srn Engage Magnetix 2.5 GPM Handheld Shower Head Package

cheapest handheld model on the market

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This Moen fixture isn’t the cheapest handheld model on the market, not by a long shot. However, we think it’s the cheapest one that’s actually worth your money. It’s made primarily from plastic components, but it gives you a metal hose and lots of value for your money.

This one’s our recommendation to folks on a tight budget who want an affordable handheld shower head! It’s no wonder the Engage system is one of This Old House’s “Best New Products”!

*This one’s also available in an “eco performance” model at 2.0 GPM. That’s our recommendation for Californians and anyone concerned about conserving water. Here’s a link for anyone who wants the water-saving model.*


You get a lot for your money. While some of our more expensive recommendations only come with the handheld shower head in the box, the Engage includes the shower head, a magnetic holder, and a 5’ hose all for well within the budget range.

The shower head itself is designed for handheld use, but also functions as an overhead fixture. It stays in place with an overhead magnetic bracket. That screws onto your shower pipe, so there are no extra fittings to install.

The magnetic holder is really great. While so many handheld showers can be tricky to fix in an overhead position, this one clicks into place every time. You don’t have to worry about it slipping out of angled sockets. You can tilt it however you please without worrying that the head will fall!

It’s highly adjustable, in both overhead and handheld modes. There are 6 different spray settings to choose from. They range from an intense massage spray to a gentle rain shower.

On any of the settings, flow feels refreshingly full and powerful for something so inexpensive!

It comes with an all-metal hose. That’s the biggest difference in quality between the Moen set and cheaper options. Sure, the plastic parts are sturdier as well, but having a metal hose will make the most difference longevity-wise.

Everything’s coated in a brushed nickel finish that resists fingerprints and spots better than other coatings we’ve seen on plastic fixtures.

Unlike most other models, especially at this price, we do also recommend the Moen in the chrome finish option. That’s because both the nickel and chrome versions have mostly plastic components, and both have the same metal hose.

It’s covered by a lifetime warranty.


This is an almost entirely plastic model. It looks and feels pretty cheap, and it definitely won’t last forever. If you can afford to spend more, we recommend that you do. However, if you’re on a tight budget, this is far better than anything else in or below its price point.

The dull gray plastic parts are especially a let-down from an aesthetic point of view. They’re no worse than what you’ll find on other inexpensive handheld options, but they don’t exactly give the impression of high-end plumbing.

It can be hard to get a perfect seal with plastic fittings such as the ones on the Moen. You need to be careful not to over tighten with models like this one.

2. Grohe Sena Stick Hand Shower

mic looking shower head

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This Grohe stick model is our least expensive pick for a hand shower that’s designed for use alongside an overhead fixture. It’s more expensive than some other secondary hand models, but the solid metal and ABS construction make it the better choice, especially for long-term savings!

This is the best budget option for folks who want a second hand shower to go with a fixed overhead unit.


It puts out a strong flow which is Grohe’s “normal” pattern. In objective terms, it’s a fairly strong output that’s more on the rinsing and massage side of things. It’s definitely not a rain shower spray. So, this is an excellent complement to an overhead rain shower head!

It’s built very well compared to other models of the same price. The Grohe is solid metal nearly all the way through. The only parts that aren’t metal are the silicone spray nozzles and the ABS fitting. You want the spray nozzles to be flexible for cleaning anyway, so that’s not a letdown at all.

Overall, it feels much higher quality than anything else under $150. The finish is a real standout, too. It doesn’t hold fingerprints easily, and it really shines after a quick wipe-down.

As with the Moen, we recommend the chrome version of the Grohe as well as the sterling version. They’re made with exactly the same materials.

It looks great in either finish. This one’s ideal for anyone who wants to create a sleek, modern look in their shower.

It’s easy to clean. There aren’t any nooks and crannies for mold to build up, and the spray nozzles are flexible enough to dislodge debris as you wipe across.

It’s ADA-certified. A lot of cylindrical, wand-style models like this are hard enough for the average person to use, let alone someone with disabilities. This one’s both intuitive and ergonomic for all users.

It’s covered by a lifetime warranty.


The ABS fitting is disappointing given the quality of the rest of the piece. However, we don’t think you’ll run into problems with it as long as you remember to avoid overtightening.

2.5 GPM isn’t an absurd amount of water to be using for a shower head, but it’s worth considering that since this is a secondary fixture, it’ll probably be used alongside an overhead unit. So, you could easily end up using twice as much water, unless you run both off a splitter valve. Be sure you think about how much water you want to use overall before you pull the trigger on this one.

This has just one spray mode. You can’t make any adjustments.

Since this is purely a handheld unit, you’re going to need a separate fixture for overhead.

It doesn’t come with a hose or stand. They’ll cost extra, especially if you get the matching Grohe components.

There’s no shutoff valve on the head itself. So, it runs constantly unless you shut it off with a valve on your wall. On the bright side, that means there aren’t any moving parts to give you grief down the road!

3. High Sierra’s Solid Metal Low Flow Handheld Shower Head Kit

favorite handheld models

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High Sierra’s shower heads are some of the best new products we’ve seen in the last few years. They’ve totally raised the game in terms of build quality and low-flow functionality compared to better-known manufacturers.

This handheld shower head kit is our top choice for anyone looking for a water-saving handheld solution. Its build quality and superb spray control also make it one of our favorite handheld models period! You can certainly find something more sophisticated, but you won’t find anything better-made or more efficient.

You can get these in both 1.5 GPM and 1.8 GPM versions. The company recommends the 1.5’s for most homes, but anyone with particularly high shower fixtures should go for the 1.8 GPM model. It’s also a good option for folks who know they need more volume for rinsing thick hair and so forth. Here’s the link for the 1.8 GPM version.


It’s made entirely in the USA! How rare is that in today’s market? High Sierra fixtures are all made here in the States, so you’re supporting domestic manufacturing when you buy one of these.

It’s also built like a tank. A lot of companies boast about metal components, but very few actually make solid metal fixtures these days. High Sierra’s handheld blows the competition away.

There’s not an ounce of plastic to be found on this thing. It’s all metal, from the spray head to the ball joint and the bracket! It’s as well-made as anything in this guide, including models 4x the price.

The only component that’s not metal is the rubber grip, which we can’t find anything to complain about anyway (there’s also a version of this model without the grip, if that’s your preference).

The High Sierra feels incredibly solid and sturdy in hand. It’s heavy-duty without sacrificing ergonomics. You might find something you like better from an aesthetic point of view, or something with more features, but from a simple quality perspective, they don’t get better than this.

It’s a real water-saver. Both the 1.5 GPM and 1.8 GPM models are WaterSense certified! You can pick how much water you want to conserve, and how much output you actually need.

We think most people will be more than happy with the 1.5 GPM version. The 1.8 is better for higher showers where you need some extra oomph to reach to the ground. Some people with longer hair to rinse may prefer it as well. Either will save you lots on your water and water heating bills!

Even though it’s a low-flow fixture, it makes incredibly efficient use of the water it does put out. The single orifice is unique to High Sierra fixtures, and it’s one of the best design elements we’ve come across. It produces a clean, contained cone without the clouds of misty spray that most others produce. So, more water ends up on your body instead of in the air.

It does wonders on even low pressure feeds, and it doesn’t feel like you’re missing anything to lower your water usage. This is a full, powerful, and consistent spray cone.

Since it’s just a single orifice rather than many little spray channels, it can’t clog. Plus, the channel is designed so that it cleans itself! There aren’t any little nooks and crannies for mold to develop, and there are no little nubs to clean.

A ball joint allows you to swivel the spray head without moving the bracket. So, you can change the direction of the water without worrying about the handle coming free.

It has a slip-free grip. The rubber material is stuck tightly onto the metal handle, and it doesn’t scuff.

We think it looks fantastic. There’s something classic about the shape of the handle and the simple nozzle. It works surprisingly well in rustic or vintage aesthetics, and the chrome version without the grip is equally modern. It’s available in chrome, nickel, and bronze finishes.

It includes a hose along with the bracket. As you’d expect, they’re both completely metal. And at 72” , the hose is also longer than the competition.

The bracket/valve combo screws right onto your overhead pipe, no additional fittings necessary!

You can get it with a trickle valve, too, if you want to save even more water.

This company has become one of our favorites in a big hurry. They offer fantastic service, and genuinely care about making a good fixture that performs and saves water at the same time.

If you run into issues with pressure or flow, they’ll work with you to customize something for your situation. They also have a great satisfaction policy, so you can try yours for 30 days and send it back if you don’t love it.


There’s only a 2-year warranty, while most other plumbing companies offer lifetime coverage. However, that’s really a formality in this case, since we can’t imagine how you could manage to break one of these things.

There aren’t any adjustment features or additional spray settings. This is going to be a love it or hate it fixture.

The look won’t be for everyone. This is definitely out of the ordinary compared to other handheld models on the market right now. Again, you’ll either love it or hate it. We absolutely love it.

4. Hansgrohe 28507821 Raindance E 120 AIR 3-Jet Hand Shower

top rated handheld shower head

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This Hansgrohe model is super “in” right now. It’s a lot more sophisticated than the High Sierra, even if it’s not quite as indestructible. This is a great midrange pick for people who want something versatile. Like the High Sierra, the Raindance E 120 Air works both overhead and as a handheld shower head.


While it’s not completely solid metal, it’s the next best thing. The vast majority of the components are metal, aside from the spray face and nozzles. This one has a good reliability record, so we aren’t too bothered that it’s a mix of materials.

It’s very versatile. There are three different spray patterns on the Raindance:

The first is called AIR. It’s a boosted flow with aerated drops, similar to a rain shower head. This is a good all-purpose, relaxing setting for washing and rinsing. It’s full without losing the gentle rain shower feel.

Whirl AIR, the second setting, is a boosted, pulsing massage flow. It’s more suitable for relaxing tired muscles and general unwinding.

Balance AIR, which mixes the two, is the final setting. It’s similar to the plain AIR setting, but it does introduce some of the pulsing element that you get from the massage setting.

Between the three settings, there’s something for nearly everybody!

It has a wide 5” spray face. That’s not as wide as an overhead rain shower, but it’s a lot wider than other handheld models. The wide spray face is one reason we prefer this over many other handhelds as a primary shower head.

It includes aeration to boost flow and enlarge water droplets.

It looks sleek and modern. This one’s unobtrusive enough to be a secondary shower head without getting in the way. At the same time, it’s stylish enough to be a respectable primary fixture.

It’s easy to clean, if not as low-maintenance as the High Sierra.


It’s starting to get into pricier territory. This one costs slightly more than the High Sierra, even though it’s not as rugged and doesn’t include any fittings.

It uses a lot more water than the High Sierra models above, even though it still meets the federal 2.5 GPM usage requirement.

This one’s only covered by a 1-year warranty. That’s disappointing, given the price tag. However, we haven’t heard of any reliability issues with the Raindance.

You’re going to need to buy an overhead or wall mount separately, as well as a hose.

Compared to the High Sierra, this one can feel pretty gentle as an overhead shower. If you like a strong flow rather than a rain shower effect, you should go for the High Sierra. This one doesn’t compare in the power department.

5. Hansgrohe 16320821 Axor Montreux Handshower

silver shower head

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The Hansgrohe Axor Montreux is our top quality pick for a hand shower. It’s a beautiful piece of work, with an elegant metal finish and a classic white grip. This one is perfect for anyone who wants a period look at home, or something Euro-inspired.


As with the Raindance, the Axor Montreux features an aerated spray. There’s a central intake port in the center of the spray face, which mixes air into the individual droplets.

That enlarges them to give them more volume, and it boosts your overall flow. This isn’t wide enough to really be considered a rain shower, but it feels as relaxing as one.

With 90 spray nozzles, you get a very smooth consistency across the spray area. It’s surprisingly immersive for a simple hand shower. It’s gentle without feeling weak. The word “spa” certainly comes to mind!

This one has the same easy-clean spray face as the other Hansgrohe. It has silicone spray nozzles which wipe clear of deposits, and it barely registers anything with hard water.

It’s dead simple. This model has just one spray mode, Rain AIR. It’s the aerated, boosted rain shower mode we’ve already described. Since that operates with a ceramic cartridge, there’s no worry that the internals will wear out!

The entire fixture is impeccably-finished and sturdy. It’s made from solid brass, so it’ll last for years of daily use. This is a classy piece which looks even more expensive than it is.

Speaking of looks, this one looks absolutely fantastic. This is ideal for a period-style spa look, especially if you’re inspired by mid-century European baths.

Even though it looks very traditional, it’s up to snuff in the modern age. This one is ADA-compliant and meets federal 2.5 GPM water usage standards.

It’s covered by a lifetime warranty.


You’ll need to buy a bracket and hose assembly separately.

It’s decent as an overhead shower, but better as a primarily handheld shower. The handle is too large and heavy to fit well in an overhead bracket.

It’s very expensive. You’ll pay quite a lot of money for one of these, depending on the finish you choose. That’s premium for something that’s probably going to be a secondary fixture.

It’s not particularly efficient, although it does meet 2.5 GPM usage standards.

6. Grohe Euphoria Cube 25” Retrofit Bundle

favorite dual setup

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The Grohe Euphoria Cube is our most expensive recommendation by a long shot. Don’t worry, though. You’re not paying this much for a handheld shower alone! This is a full conversion kit which comes with everything you need to retro-fit your shower with a hand shower and rain shower head all in one go!

This is our recommendation to anyone who wants a complete overhaul including a handheld shower.


While it’s expensive as a package, it’s value-packed. When you consider that you’re getting two high-end fixtures for a price that many single fixtures command, this looks like a heck of a bargain.

The first fixture is a hand shower on a sliding rail. It’s a squared-off chrome stick fixture which sits in a bracket. This one has an all-purpose, higher-powered spray mode which is designed to help rinse and relax tired muscles. You can use it by itself for a targeted approach, or keep it running to massage your back while you stand under the overhead fixture!

Having the hand unit on a bar allows you to choose lots of different heights for seated or standing showers. It’s super versatile, and gives you lots of options for how you configure your shower experience.

In addition to the handheld fixture, there’s also an overhead rain shower head. It’s a 6” square, with a wide rain shower flow pattern. This one’s probably going to be your primary fixture. It’s an immersive experience by itself, and it’s a gentle complement to the more powerful hand shower.

Both fixtures are super modern. They’re sleek, angular shapes in keeping with the “cube” theme. These are ideal pieces for a modern, contemporary home.

All the fittings have a unique cooling channel build in between the hot water and the outer surface. That prevents scalding, which can be a hazard with all-metal fixtures like these.

It comes with the fixtures, the rail, the shower heads, and an overhead extension arm. The whole assembly is designed to work with any existing valve configuration. You get all the mounting hardware and fittings you need to get up and running quickly.

It’s all relatively easy to install, with minimal modifications required. All you’ll need to do is fix the bar, then attach the fittings.

You can choose to fix the overhead arm in place, or leave it free to swivel.

The built-in diverter valve allows you to switch between shower heads, or to combine the two. There’s also an integrated balancing feature which keeps output even as you alternate, thanks to a concealed valve.

It actually has 6 modes. There’s one each for the shower heads and the combination mode, plus “eco” versions of all those options. Both fixtures are 2.5 GPM at the standard settings, but you can go slightly lower on the eco modes (exact rates aren’t listed)

You also get a supply elbow component, which is to angle the hose around your existing valve. That’s in order to prevent tangling. Little design touches like this elbow and the cooling channel make this one a premium system through and through.

It’s all extremely well-made. The Grohe’s components and fixtures are all solid metal aside from the tiny spray tips. The hose, brackets, arms, and everything else are built to last for years of daily use.

Everything’s easy to clean. The shower heads have flexible, silicone nozzles, which dislodge hard water deposits easily. The finish is impeccable, and surprisingly resistant to fingerprints for a shiny coating.

It’s covered by a lifetime warranty.


It’s pricey, despite the fact that there’s a lot of value here. There are certainly cheaper ways to go, so if you’re just focused on getting a handheld shower head, you might want to pass on this one.

If you don’t want to completely overhaul your shower, this is definitely overkill.

You can’t adjust either of the fixtures. They’re one-setting models, so you’ll either love or hate them. Having said that, there’s enough variety between the two of them to satisfy most tastes.

You’ll need to make some modifications to your shower wall to get the sliding bar from the Grohe Cube kit set up.


Which of our handheld shower head picks should be the latest addition to your bathroom?

If you’re on a tight budget and focused on getting maximum value, the Moen is the obvious choice. It functions well as an overhead, primary fixture, with the flexibility to work in a handheld mode. It’s versatile, more rugged than other plastic fixtures, and has an all-metal hose.

The downside with this one is that it does look and feel cheap. While it’s much better than anything else for the price, it simply doesn’t compare to more expensive options. If you can afford to spend more, we recommend one of our nicer picks.

The Grohe Sena is our most affordable pick for a secondary fixture. It’s a solid handheld-only piece that’s ideal for anyone who likes contemporary design. Unless you’re prepared to spend a few hundred dollars for the Euphoria, we think it’s the best choice for a modern bathroom.

It’s not completely metal, though, and it can’t work as a primary shower head.

High Sierra’s handheld models aren’t necessarily the most sophisticated or fashionable things on the market these days, but we think they ought to be getting a lot more attention. These are fantastic fixtures for anyone who’s concerned about conservation.

They offer incredibly low flow-rates without making you feel like your shower is lacking something. If you have low water pressure, live in an area with tight water resources, or simply want the most ethical option, these are for you! They’re built as well as any of the more expensive options in this guide, and they work absurdly well.

Just don’t expect any room for adjustments.

The Hansgrohe Raindance E 120 AIR is our most sophisticated choice for a hand shower to use as a primary fixture. It’s much more versatile than the High Sierra’s, since it has three different spray modes to choose from. It’s also slim enough to be a secondary, handheld-only shower head for folks who simply like more variety. The Raindance is sturdy and user-friendly.

It’s not as powerful as the High Sierra’s, though, and it won’t save you any money. If you don’t like rain shower heads, this one’s not for you.

The Hansgrohe Axor Montreux is our recommendation for anyone who wants a period-inspired, traditional hand shower. It’s not really designed to be a primary fixture, but it’s an elegant, timeless piece to have alongside your primary fixture. It’s ideal for adding to shower and tub combos, and it looks superb.

Of course, the traditional look isn’t going to work well at all in homes with contemporary decor. This is also quite expensive for something that’s an add-on fixture rather than a primary spray head.

Finally, if you’re looking to add a hand shower as part of a complete bathroom upgrade, Grohe’s Euphoria Cube kit is ideal for you. It’s definitely overkill for the average buyer, and isn’t appropriate for anyone who rents their home. However, if you’re a homeowner with ambitious bathroom renovations in mind, it’s an ideal upgrade. This is a very solid, stylish, and functional set.

See also:

The more expensive of our recommendations, such as the Hansgrohe and Grohe options above, are as much as we think most people need spend on a handheld shower head. Besides, they’re as much as most people can afford to spend. If price isn’t a barrier, and you’re looking for the absolute best hand shower experience on the market, we do have one more suggestion for you!

Hansgrohe 28110821 Raindance Allrounder AIR, Brushed Nickel

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The Hansgrohe Raindance All-rounder AIR is our ultimate recommendation for a handheld shower head. It’s simply too costly to recommend in our main picks, but it is absolutely superb!

It’s large enough to be considered a true rain shower head, without sacrificing handheld practicality. This one has power, versatility, and taste. It cleans easily, looks absolutely stunning, and is ADA compliant. There are also lots of spray modes to choose from!

The Hansgrohe has impeccable solid-brass construction with an ABS/silicone spray face. It comes with a 63” hose, with a fantastic flexible metal material that doesn’t kink or resist movement.

The adjustable holder allows you to move the angle all around, so that you can easily transition from overhead to side positions, and everything in between. In fact, the entire arm pivots, so you can adjust the height to fit any use. Then you can modify the shower head itself by swiveling.

Just be aware that it takes up a lot of space, and will take a sizable chunk out of your wallet.

Buying Guide

There are lots of different options out there in the handheld shower head market. As you’re thinking about which models would be the best for your needs, here are a few pointers to help you figure out exactly what you want:

Consider your budget

Handheld shower heads don’t necessarily cost more than your average overhead fixture. They start around the same price, and the most expensive handheld models aren’t any more expensive than premium rain shower heads.

The key difference is that to get a decent handheld model, you’re going to have to pay more than you would for a fixed overhead model. That’s because so many handheld models are made with cheap plastic components, plastic hoses, and crappy fittings.

With that in mind, plan to spend at least $75 for a decent handheld shower head that includes a metal hose and durable plastic fixture. If you want something that’s made entirely or mostly from metal components, you’ll be looking at spending $150+. We recommend that most buyers do so. While metal fixtures cost more up front, they’re a much sounder investment over the long term.

Our recommendations start around the $75 mark, and go to the top end of the handheld price range: ~$500. The more you pay, the better build quality you can expect to see. You’ll pay more for metal parts, longer-lasting finishes, and better-designed spray channels.

As you think about your budget, it’s important to consider the cost of any additional components you’ll need to buy. Think about how you’re going to mount your new handheld shower head, and whether you’ve already got the hose, fittings, and valve to make it work properly. If not, be sure to factor in the cost of those items when you’re deciding how much to spend!

*A special warning: avoid anything under $75!

There are a whole slew of horrible handheld shower heads on the market these days. If you shop online, you’re going to be inundated with listings for $20-$40 handheld shower heads and combination models, with glitzy promo photos and all sorts of claims and features attached. If you see something that looks too good to be true, it almost certainly is.

Many of the companies offering these incredibly cheap, crappy models don’t actually make any real plumbing fixtures. They import generic plastic shower heads from China and rebrand them. They’re essentially crappy knock-off models of things that are made by plumbing firms.

You might think one of these shower heads is a good way to get the same basic product as brand-name models without spending as much money. Trust us–we get it. But they’re not worth your money, and you should avoid them completely.

They’re made with unbelievably cheap plastic, with finishes that can flake off within days. There are often harmful materials are used in their construction, which leach into your water and air as you use them. They don’t work well, they crack almost instantly, and the hoses are worthless. Plus, many don’t even meet basic USA water regulations for usage and materials.

It’s well worth your money to spend a bit more for something by a legitimate company. Even if you can’t afford to buy an all-metal model, a plastic model by a reputable plumbing firm will be a better long term investment than a generic version. You’ll have an actual warranty to rely on, and even the cheapest models usually have some decent proprietary features that you simply aren’t going to get on generic junk.

So, in short, stick with the models we’ve recommended here, or comparable models from these brands. If you’re not finding what you’re looking for in this guide, be wary when you do your own shopping. Avoid made-up sounding names with misspelled words and random acronyms. If you see super-long product names that list features, or generic photos which look like every other ultra-cheap fixture, you’re looking at something that you should avoid.

Know what you want

Before you start doing any serious shopping, you want to sort out exactly what you’re looking for. Figure out whether you want your handheld shower head to be your primary or secondary fixture. Consider how versatile you want your new shower head to be, and which kind(s) of flow pattern you want it to have.

If you’re shopping for a handheld model as your primary fixture, make sure it does everything you want in one package. If it’s your secondary fixture, you should focus on how it complements your overhead piece.

Figure out the logistics

Most standard shower heads simply screw onto an overhead supply pipe. That’s not the case with all handheld models! So, before you make a purchase, be sure you understand exactly how you’re going to install and operate your new handheld shower head.

If you don’t want to make any modifications to your setup, you should go for something which fits neatly on your overhead pipe. That’s the best option for anyone who rents their place, as well as anyone who either lacks plumbing aptitude or the budget for professional installation.

If you want to go for something premium, you’re probably going to be looking at adding a sliding bar in your shower or installing some sort of bracket/holder. Some of these setups are easier to deal with than others, so choose something that you can confidently install yourself or afford to have done by a pro.

Know what you’re getting

Depending on the model you choose, you could be buying everything you need to get showering, or the shower head itself with no additional components. Be sure you know what your shower head comes with, and what you’ll need to add to your cart on the side. In general, you’ll need the shower head, a metal hose (plastic ones aren’t worth dealing with), and some sort of bracket or holder.

Pay attention to quality

Handheld shower heads can be made surprisingly crappily, given than they see a lot more wear and tear than a fixed overhead piece. You have to be especially careful to avoid the junky models and get something with quality components in this category.

We always recommend buying shower components made entirely (or almost entirely) from metal parts. Be aware that metal handheld shower heads are less common than equivalent overhead fixtures, though. They’re expensive but we think they’re more than worth it. Plastic fixtures will crack if you drop them, and they feel so chintzy to hold in your hand. So, be prepared to pay more for something high-quality, but know that it’s worth it in the long run!

Even if you can’t afford a metal shower head, it’s still our advice to never buy something with a plastic hose. The best budget option is to buy a decent plastic fixture that comes with an all-metal hose. You’ll find those models for $75 and up, in most cases. As long as you’re buying from a reputable company and getting a long warranty policy with your new shower head, you’re still making a solid investment.

One difference between handheld models and most overhead fixtures is that chrome isn’t necessarily an indicator of shoddy quality on these models. Don’t worry about chrome in most cases, because handheld models are either made entirely of plastic, or almost entirely of metal. They don’t tend to vary much in terms of finish.

If you buy something between $75 and $150, you’re going to be getting a plastic head with a metal hose, no matter which finish you opt for. Above $150, you should expect an all or nearly all-metal fixture regardless of whether it’s chrome, nickel, or bronze.

Mind your water usage

Last, but certainly not least, you should always consider how much water your handheld shower head will be using.

If it’s your primary shower head, you don’t need to put too much thought into this. 2.5 GPM is the federal standard for water usage. All our recommendations meet or exceed that conservation standard.

However, some parts of the country (such as CA) have tighter water restrictions. You should make sure you know what your local regulations require.

If you’re looking to conserve water, or trying to meet a local/state regulation, you should choose a WaterSense-certified model. These use 1.8 GPM or less.

For those buyers who are planning to install a handheld shower head in addition to an overhead fixture, we want to urge you to either consider a diverter valve which runs only one fixture at a time, or to make sure that at least one of your fixtures is a water-saver if you’re running two at the same time. It’s better for the planet, and much better for your wallet.

What’s Next

By the time you’ve gotten to the end of this guide, you should have a clear idea of exactly what you want from your new handheld shower head.

We hope you’ve seen at least a model or two here which could complement your own bathroom. If so, great! Simply click on on the links in our reviews to find out more about our picks.

If you’re still shopping around for your ideal fixture, no worries! This guide only features our recommendations in the handheld category. You can find lots of other high-quality fixtures reviewed on our home page!

We also have other specific guides to low-flow shower heads, high-pressure fixtures, and more.