A Forehead Protector (額当て, Hitai-ate) is a headband that is worn by almost every shinobi, composed of a metal plate engraved with the symbol of the ninja's Hidden Village, and normally a band of cloth which can be in different colours. The forehead protector is received once a ninja graduates from the Academy, and genin-level or higher ranked ninja are the only ones allowed to have and use them.
Despite the name "forehead protector", it can be worn in many different styles. For example, while the majority do wear theirs in the traditional manner, Sakura uses hers as a hair-band, Shikamaru has his on his upper arm, whereas Rock Lee and Might Guy wear theirs as a belt when they wear their green jumpsuits, while Temari (in Part 1) and Hinata wear theirs as chokers. Tobirama Senju, Kisame Hoshigaki, and Yamato also wear a mask-style forehead protector that frames their faces, rather than a cloth wrapping around their heads. Kankurō wears his on his hood. Gaara wraps his on his sand gourd. Chōjūrō uses it like a badge on his chest. Kakashi Hatake wears his as a makeshift eye-patch.
The forehead protector is meant to symbolise pride in one's village, as well as a symbol of fealty. Ninja consider it an honourable, important part of their tradition, and make a point of wearing it at all times. There are also some ninjas who do not wear their forehead protectors, despite still being loyal to the village (such as the Sannin, Shizune, Konan and Ino. Some characters such as Shino Aburame still wear their forehead protectors under their clothing stopping it from being visible being under his hood (worn in the conventional style).
Several missing-nin do not stop wearing their forehead protector, while others (such as Orochimaru) may discard them. Akatsuki members who do retain their forehead protectors carve a long, horizontal scratch across the symbol, to show they have rescinded their allegiances and rejected their villages.
Jiraiya also wears a special forehead protector, which, instead of a piece of metal with the village's symbol attached to a cloth, it is a thick metal band, shaped like a frog's head, with the kanji "oil" (油, abura) on the centre.
Colours and Styles
There have been many different colours of cloth of the ninja forehead protectors and worn in many different styles.
- Navy Blue: This is the most common colour of forehead protectors. Many ninja keep this colour for the entirety of their ninja career.
- Crimson: Some ninja have a crimson-coloured forehead protectors such as Rock Lee and Might Guy. Other ninja changed from blue to crimson over the time-skip including Sakura Haruno. Iwagakure ninja also tend to use crimson coloured forehead protectors.
- Black: Many ninja also wear black forehead protectors such as Kakashi Hatake, Sai, Itachi Uchiha, Neji Hyūga, Gaara, and Temari. Many ninja changed from blue to black over the time skip, including Naruto Uzumaki, Tenten, and all of Team Kurenai.
- White: While hardly ever seen, forehead protectors can be pure white in colour such as Killer B and several other ninja from Kumogakure.