Tetraacetylphytosphingosine (TAPS) is an acetylated derivative of phytosphingosine. Phytosphingosine is a phospholipid, a type of lipid that is a major component of all biological membranes. Phytosphingosine can also be used in skin care products as a skin-replenishing ingredient. However, tetraacetylphytosphingosine has been shown to have better efficacy than phytosphingosine in terms of stimulating in vivo synthesis of glucosylceramide because of its high solubility.
Glucosylceramide is a component of the skin’s natural barrier, along with other lipids such as ceramides, cholesterol, and fatty acids. Without these essential lipids, the barrier is weakened. A weak or damaged barrier leads to loss of moisture, and also allows harmful things like allergens, bacteria, and irritants to pass through into the deeper layers of skin. This can cause symptoms of dryness, itching, irritation, inflammation, and even signs of aging. By stimulating synthesis of glucosylceramide, tetraacetylphytosphingosine helps to improve the skin barrier and reduce these symptoms.