When new analytical methods become available, the OCCL Network performs inter-laboratory collaborative studies in order to assess their relevance and validate their suitability and performance. This allows laboratories to become familiar with methodologies that are always robust, fit for purpose and ensure accurate results. PTS studies provide the grounds for the laboratories to build trust in each other’s analytical capacity and validity of results, an essential aspect for avoiding duplication of tasks and streamlining efficiency.

Proficiency testing is a form of external quality control and covers the overall performance of a laboratory. This includes the entire process from reception and storage of samples, to the experimental work in the laboratory, and the interpretation of results. PTS studies within the OCCL Network are co-ordinated by the EDQM; they are an essential tool to demonstrate technical competence and identify scope for technical improvement. Conducting PTS studies is part of a quality management programme to ensure an appropriate level of performance in the different OCCLs. Participating laboratories in several countries test the same sample for pre-defined parameters following a common test protocol. Results are then evaluated against a set of acceptance criteria according to international standards.

Find out about all the Proficiency Testing Scheme studies in Cosmetics:

  • The PTS study programme for 2015 included testing titanium dioxide in sunscreens, fluorides in toothpastes and hydrogen peroxide in tooth-whitening products.
  • The 2014 study programme focus on testing for formaldehyde released from preservatives and on the determination of UV filters in sunscreens.
  • The PTS study programme 2012-2013 included the analysis of allergens, diethylene glycol, p-phenylenediamine, phthalates and thioglycolic acid in various cosmetic products.

In 2011, the EDQM initiated a PTS for cosmetic products. 16 national laboratories located in Austria, Cyprus, France, Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands, Portugal, Slovenia and Sweden participated in the pilot studies and compared their analytical results obtained for the chemicals formaldehyde and hydroquinone.

publications on cosmetics

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: [email protected]

learn more

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