Sao Thai Duong Vietnamese Herbal Cosmetics

Sao Thai Duong started with two co-founders hoping to bring the power of Vietnamese herbs to all.  Some 20 years later, the company has over 1,000 employees and more than 200 products on the market ranging from body care to medication.

Nguyen Thi Huong Lien, Deputy General Director of Sao Thai Duong Company
(Photo: Sao Thai Duong)

Nguyen Thi Huong Lien is the Deputy General Director of Sao Thai Duong Company, a pharmacist, a researcher, and an entrepreneur.  She is the Vice-President of the Vietnam Science and Technology Business Association, and in 2022, she launched the Science and Technology Community, a platform for entrepreneurs and scientists to exchange ideas and promote technology transfer from the laboratory to science and technology enterprises.  She was a recipient of a Gold Award from UN Women in 2020.

After graduating from Hanoi University of Pharmacy in 1994, she worked as a researcher in a pharmaceutical company. However, her life took another direction when a heart condition worsened after giving birth in 1998.   At the time, doctors with allopathic medicine could not solve her health issue. She had been studying oriental medicine since 1994 and formulated her own cure from plants. She realized that hospitals extensively used chemical medicines, which brought several adverse side effects.

This episode pushed her to continue studying and researching the medicinal properties of herbs used in traditional medicine.  She shared her interest with her husband, Nguyen Huu Thang, also a chemist, and they decided to launch a small business to bring her research to market in 2002. They named their company Sao Thai Duong, a lucky star in astrology, intending for their products and services “to bring happiness and luck to everyone; customers, employees, partners, and the disadvantaged communities,” she said.

Sao Thai Duong Herbal Cosmetics and Herbal Medicines 

From one Hair Care Formula to over 200 Health-Related Products in 20 Years

Recalling the early years, Ms. Nguyen said the company started with just one product.  It was a water-mixable herbal solution for hair cleaning.  “My mother used to clean my hair with herbs.  We did not have shampoo in the countryside 40 years ago,” she said.

Twenty years later, with a team of 100 pharmacists and three factories, the company has 196 cosmetic products ranging from hair care and skin care to oral care, and 26 functional food products to help with brain, heart, stomach, bones and joints, kidney, liver, and circulation conditions. 

Sao Thai Duong also produces 14 herbal medicines, one of which is for COVID-19 (SUNKOVIR) treatment.  Sao Thai Duong’s herbal medicines are considered medicine in Viet Nam.  The company also offers five medical devices and 40 essential oils products.

A box of Sunkovir tablets on a wooden slate and some wooden sticks and leaves
(Photo: Sao Thai Duong)

Hair products remain Sao Thai Duong’s customers’ favorite.  The company has a line of herbal shampoos and hair care products that help against hair loss and promote healthy, thickening hair.

The most famous product, however, is SUNKOVIR, the first and only herbal medicine to treat COVID-19 in Viet Nam.  SUNKOVIR had undergone an extensive clinical trial test following the World Health Organization protocol guideline.

All products are available in over 100,000 points of sale nationwide, in pharmacies, beauty stores, supermarkets, minimarts, and grocery shops.  They are also available online from Sao Thai Duong’s e-store and other platforms, including Facebook and TikTok.  Close to 20,000 products are sold online every month, according to Ms. Nguyen.

Organic Medicinal Herbs – The Key Ingredients of Sao Thai Duong products

Sao Thai Duong uses organic plants and herbs for its products.  Viet Nam is one of the world’s most biodiverse countries.  According to Ms. Nguyen, Viet Nam hosts about 3,000 plants that can be used for health and beauty care.  “Vietnamese people have a tradition of caring for their health and beauty with herbs.”

The company uses about 200 different kinds of plants for its products.  “Developed countries also understand the health value of herbs, and the demand for organic, vegan, herb-based products is rising,” she said.

Two lemon halves and several herbs used by Sao Thai Duong Company on a chopping board
(Photo: Sao Thai Duong)

Sao Thai Duong is testing a model farm growing organic medicinal herbs according to American, European, and Japanese standards on 30 hectares in the mountains of North Viet Nam.  The company provided technical guidance to farmers to produce clean, high-quality medicinal herbs for its factories.  The project aims to create jobs, help people in remote areas have a better income, increase their capacity to access knowledge, and improve connections between disadvantaged communities.

The project also includes research on wild herbs and how to cultivate them.

The company has a small research lab but collaborates with other research centers, academics, universities, and the Ministry of Health for new medicines or products.  The basic research is done in Sao Thai Duong’s lab in Hanoi, while research on animals and clinical trials in hospitals are done with partners, Ms. Nguyen explained.

Two chemists in white lab coveralls, seating on stools, working with products
(Photo: Sao Thai Duong)

Corporate Social Responsibility paramount to Sao Thai Duong

Mindful of the environment, the company uses solar power, wastewater treatment technology, microorganism-based waste treatment to turn waste into bio-fertilizers, and energy-saving systems for extraction, drying, ventilation, and air conditioning in its factories.

The company is also involved in several community projects.  One of them is the “classroom bookcase” program that has been giving away books to children in poor rural and mountainous schools since 2005.  The Vietnam Children’s Fund program now operates the project to expand its activities nationwide, according to Ms. Nguyen.  Other programs involve libraries for children, free medical access, and cultural activities.

Nature Queen Shampoos – Premium Haircare Products for the EU & US

After the Viet Nam market, Sao Thai Duong wanted to expand to the international market and in 2017 launched a new line of premium haircare products for export, named “Nature Queen,” available in the United States and some European markets: the United Kingdom, Germany, Sweden, Poland, and the Czech Republic.

Nature Queen has its own packaging and formula to follow the standard requirements of the US and EU markets and regulatory authorities.  Sao Thai Duong brand is the national brand, also exported to China.

Four bottles of Thai Duong Nature Queen’s brand shampoo and hair conditioners on a mirror stand
(Photo: Sao Thai Duong)

IP Protection – A Key Business Asset

Sao Thai Duong is no stranger to IP protection.  The company has eight patents, five utility patents, and 50 trademarks.  Patents are registered in Viet Nam and some other countries through the PCT, in the US and the EU.  Trademarks for Nature Queen and Sao Thai Duong are registered in some 60 countries through the Madrid system.

Ms. Nguyen underlined the importance of IP protection against infringement.  Scientists, she said, should be more aware of the importance of IP.  “Patents are very attractive.  When I have a patent, I feel inspired,” she said, adding, “Having patent protection gives you the confidence to start commercializing your product and invest more money in it.”

In the next few years, Ms. Nguyen hopes the company will increase its export of cosmetic products made from Vietnamese herbs and raise awareness about nature-based health and beauty care products.  She remarked positively that the WHO now has a distinct category for traditional medicine.  She said Sao Thai Duong is also conducting intensive research on drugs to prevent and treat strokes and heart attacks.

Last update:

June 26, 2023

Viet Nam

Company name:
Sao Thai Duong Vietnamese Herbal Cosmetics

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