Is Your Motorcycle Helmet Causing a Red Forehead? Here’s Why

Is your motorcycle helmet causing a red spot on your forehead? I mean, helmet hair is bad enough, right? That’s just unnecessary! My previous bike helmet used to cause a red line on my forehead so I had to ride to work a bit earlier for it to clear up before everyone else arrives. What causes this and how can you prevent a red forehead from your motorcycle helmet?

If your motorcycle helmet causes a red spot on your forehead it is most likely the wrong shape for you head. A round helmet will put pressure on the forehead of an oval-shaped head and result in discomfort and a red mark. The foam can be reshaped with the back of a spoon but it is best to get the right shape helmet for your head.

Commuting on a motorcycle is very convenient and a lot of fun. But something that is not fun is sitting at work, or a restaurant, with a large red spot on your forehead.

If you are self-conscious, one solution is to put the helmet next to you on your desk so people understand that it’s the cause and that you don’t have some weird condition. A better solution it to make sure it doesn’t happen at all.

Why Does Your Motorcycle Helmet Make a Red Spot on Your Forehead?

If your helmet causes a red spot on your forehead it is most likely due to it being the wrong shape for your head. A motorcycle helmet should fit snug, but not too tight, all around your head. There should not be one particular spot where there is more pressure than the rest of your head.

If there is no specific pressure point on your forehead and the bike helmet fits snug all around, but it still leaves a red mark on your forehead, the impact padding may just need time to settle in. You should not feel any discomfort or headaches after wearing the helmet for an extended period of time. There should also not be too much pressure on your ears.

Head shapes

When fitting a new helmet you need to consider the shape of your head. Some people have a much more rounded head where the ear to ear measurement is almost the same as back to front. Others, like me, have a more oval-shaped dome. The distance between my ears is less than the distance from the front of my forehead to the rear of my head. This oval shape can vary from person to person and are referred to as intermediate-oval or (in more extreme cases) long-oval.

Revzilla filters helmets according to head shape (Image:

Sticking a long-oval head into a round helmet will cause a pressure point on the forehead of the rider, especially when the rest of the helmet fits snugly (as it should). If you go for a larger helmet to prevent the forehead pressure, it will fit too loose on the sides and move around. A motorcycle helmet should not be able to rotate or move up and down. In a crash you want the helmet to stay in one place.

When buying a new helmet, make sure you know what shape of head you have and look for a brand that will accommodate you. This is where buying from a physical store, where you can try on the helmet, may be a better idea than buying online. Some online stores, however, filter the helmets according to head shape.

Helmet needs to break in

If the pressure around your forehead, the sides of your head and your cheeks are even, but you still develop a red spot on your forehead, it may be as a result of the helmet fitting too snugly.

If there is no discomfort while wearing the helmet and it doesn’t cause a headache after a few hours inside, then the size is probably not your problem. It may just be that the padding inside needs time to settle in. Over time the padding will conform to your head and the pressure should subside.

Which Helmet Should I Get?

The first thing to determine before buying a motorcycle helmet is the shape of your head. If you look from above (someone else will need to help), is the distance between your ears, and the front and rear of your head the same? If so, you’ve got a round noggin. If the length of your head is longer from front to back, then it is oval.

The best way to know which shape of helmet to get is to fit as many as you can in the store. If you are buying online, on you can filter helmets according to the shape of your head.

The helmet should fit snugly, but there should be no hot spots or pressure points around your forehead, the back of your head or your temples. For more on how to fit a helmet, check out this short video:

How to properly fit a new helmet

Once you know the shape of your head, you can try on different sizes until you find the right fit for you. If you pull the front of the helmet up, your chin should follow. There should be no free play in the helmet and it should not be able to move around on your head. In a crash, you want the motorcycle helmet to stay in position and not move up or down or rotate from side to side.

Only after you’ve found the right shape and size for your head, should you start worrying about the graphics on the helmet. I know this is difficult and usually the starting point for many riders, but what good is a cool looking helmet in the hands of a guy or gal with a big red spot on his or her forehead!

Specific Brands Best Suited to Oval Shaped Heads

Some brands or specific models are better suited to intermediate- and long- oval shaped heads. My previous helmet caused a big red spot on my forehead every time I wore it. It was very annoying and I always wore a buff underneath. It helped with the lines, but it still caused a red spot.

Then I bought an Arai Quantum and the red spot is gone. I didn’t know about head shape back then, but by chance I’ve picked a round-oval-shaped helmet which was just perfect for my head shape. I was lucky, as they are very expensive. Next time I will make sure to consider head shape before I buy.

My Arai Quantum
My Arai Quantum is the perfect shape (intermediate-oval) and size for my head

Arai helmets are mentioned more often than any other helmet on forum threads about red foreheads and helmet shapes. For intermediate-oval head shapes, the Arai Quantum-X (for street riding) or the Arai XD-4 (for dual sport riding) are the correct shape. For a long-oval head, the Arai Signet was mentioned most often as a long-oval shape. They are all available on Amazon.

I’ve Already Bought the Wrong Shape Helmet, Now What?

If you are getting red spots on your forehead, chances are that you’ve already purchased the wrong shape helmet. My best advice is to take it back to the store and exchange it for the correct shape. If you bought the helmet from a bike shop, they should have given you better advice. If you bought it online and it is still new, send it back for a refund and start again doing proper research.

If taking it back is not an option, many riders have ‘fixed’ the shape problem by massaging the Styrofoam behind the padding at the front of the helmet with a ball peen hammer or the back of a spoon. At the exact spot where you feel the pressure, compress the foam a little at a time and refit. Repeat this process until the pressure is even all around your head.

The riders that suggested this online all reported getting rid of the pressure and the red forehead. There is the caveat that by compressing the foam you are reducing the absorption ability of the helmet in the event of a crash.

Messing with the structure or integrity of the helmet is not something that I would personally recommend.

You could also go for new padding for a larger head. Many different helmet sizes use the same size outer shell but with different thickness of padding inside for different sizes. A medium and large may have the same outer shell but with different thickness of padding inside.

The downsize to going for a larger size (i.e. thinning padding) is that the helmet may no longer fit snugly around the rest of your head, which will be dangerous in a crash as the helmet may not stay in place. Unfortunately, the only safe option is the get the right shape helmet.

Final Thoughts

If your helmet is causing red spots on your forehead it is likely not the right shape for your head. If you can’t return it, I would seriously consider getting a new lid. I rode around with the wrong shaped helmet for many years and it is amazing what difference it makes when you finally stick your head into the right helmet.

Before you buy, make sure you understand what shape head you have and how to fit a helmet properly. I always suggest getting the very best helmet you can afford. And when you pay that much for a lid it better be the right one for you.

Francois Steyn

I've been riding motorcycles since I was in school and have traveled thousands of miles on various bikes through more than 10 countries. For more info, check out my about page:

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