In the European Network of OCCLs, Market Surveillance Studies (MSS) are designed as multilateral studies of commercialised cosmetic products of the same type. Products are sampled by the national authorities and checked for compliance with European regulations or, in some cases, for information on trace levels of ubiquitous substances such as metals. The results are shared with national and European authorities.

Find out about all the Market Surveillance Studies in cosmetics:

  • A market surveillance study was started in 2011 to monitor the quality of cosmetic products for children. The third investigation period was conducted on cosmetic products collected in 2017-2019 in 9 countries. One quarter (25%) of the cosmetic products that are designed to appeal to children was considered non-compliant and several samples contained relevant amounts of nitrosamines, forbidden colorants or lead. A summary of these findings can be obtained in the Summary Report “Cosmetics for kids still failing to comply with regulations” (January 2022).
  • A market surveillance study was conducted to survey cosmetic products for allergens. In 2018 and 2019, 932 samples were collected in eight countries at various places along the distribution chain. Results showed that 7.7% of samples tested were non-compliant with legislative requirements due to a missing or false declaration of allergenic fragrance compounds and that 3.1% of products marketed as “perfume-free” contained fragrance compounds. More detail can be found in the Summary of the Market Surveillance Study on Allergenic Fragrance Compounds (published December 2020).
  • The quality of tooth whiteners and whitening strips was assessed in a Market Surveillance Study carried out by Official Cosmetics Control Laboratories (OCCLs) in 12 European countries and completed in 2018. The findings, based on the testing of 261 samples of tooth whitening products, indicated that a large number of products were non-compliant with European Union or national regulations for cosmetic products: 78% of paint-on (brush-on) whiteners and more than 50% of tray-based tooth whiteners and whitening strips. Non-compliance issues identified concerned the hydrogen peroxide content (higher than permitted), the presence of a CMR substance – those which are carcinogenic, mutagenic or toxic for reproduction – (sodium perborate) and labelling issues. In the study conclusions, the European Network of OCCLs recommended that these products should be more closely monitored by national competent authorities and OCCLs. More detail can be found in the Summary of the Market Surveillance Study on Tooth Whitening Products (published April 2019).
  • The quality of cosmetic products that are designed to appeal to children was tested in an MSS completed in 2014. More than one third of the samples was considered non-compliant and several samples contained relevant amounts of nitrosamines, forbidden colorants or lead. A summary of these findings can be obtained in the Summary Report "Cosmetics for kids fail to comply with regulations".

In 2011, several countries collected samples of decorative cosmetics (make-up, eye-shadow, eye liner, lip gloss, etc.) to measure the content of certain metals that may give rise to health concerns: antimony, cadmium, chromium, lead, mercury and nickel. Traces of some of these metals may be unavoidable for technical reasons but, in most countries, maximum tolerable limits have not been set. The results of this MSS have been shared with authorities and may be used to establish common guidance values.

Publications on cosmetics
Guidance

The European Committee CD-P-COS is currently focusing on ensuring participation of national OCCLs in its pan-European network and is expanding further its database of test results for childcare and children cosmetics.

What is an OCCL?

An OCCL is a public institution tasked with performing laboratory testing of cosmetics for the purpose of market surveillance. More than 50 OCCLs participate in the OCCL Network. Participation is open to member states which are Parties to the Convention on the Elaboration of a European Pharmacopoeia of the Council of Europe and to observers/observer states.

Network membership is open to publicly funded, independent laboratories, which have implemented a quality management system as laid down in ISO/IEC 17025:2017 (or equivalent), and have suitable rules in place for sub-contracting certain types of work.

OCCLs Network members at a glance

How to join?

Official Cosmetics Control Laboratories in eligible member states may join the Network.

Official observers of the European Pharmacopoeia are also invited to participate in Network activities such as coordinated market surveillance studies, proficiency testing and different types of expert meetings.

To enquire about membership and projects, contact the OCCL Network Secretariat.

learn more

Learn about activities, some of the projects so far and their work and experiences.