Don’t know about your neck of the woods, but here in the California bay area, most stores are pretty lenient on helmet returns. Both of my MSF instructors basically said take a helmet you think you like home with you for the day and try watching TV with it on for a few hours. If you don’t get a headache, you should be good to go. Also make sure on a brand new helmet that it’s kinda tight since over time, the padding inside will settle in and the helmet will fit looser.
For shopping, here in Cali anyway with the lenient returns, if you find a helmet you like, it works in your favor, since you can just grab the model number and shop for price online. I like to support my local store though, so I’ll give them first crack at price matching and if they come reasonably close, I’ll just do biz with them. But like uncle_bernie stated, DOT and Snell approved is the way to go, although legally, the helmet only needs to be DOT approved.
And I forgot, if you get a full face shield, make sure you either look for anti-fogging in the list of features or make sure to test the helmet with the breather add-on. Having a visor full of fog while riding is um… not fun…
If there’s anything more important than my ego
around, I want it caught and shot now…