The Green Room is a series of interviews that I conduct with fellow saltwater fanatics, including up-and-coming brands, surf world personalities and industry leaders. This particular interview is with Steffen Kratz. He’s the founder of a skincare brand for watermen and women who want to look after their skin using a product that’s eco-friendly, non-greasy and most of all, effective. Main image credit: Felix Gänsicke

Hi Steffen. Nice to catch up with you. Can you introduce yourself? Where are you from? Where do you live?

My name is Steffen, I am 44 years old and I come from the north of Germany. For the last 12 years, I’ve lived together with my husband and our two dogs in Sitges, a small coastal town south of Barcelona.

Steffen Kratz from AiguaDolç
Image: Miguel del Rio

And what brought you to Spain?

For as long as I can remember my parents always had a VW van.

First a T2, then a T3 and a T4, and with it we always went on vacation to France, Spain and Portugal. My parents are both teachers, so we were on the road often and for long periods of time. So even as a child I spent a lot of time in the south of Europe, especially in Spain, which is how I got the desire to live here later on.

What about Aiguadolç? Can you tell the readers what it is? How did it begin?

My husband worked for a wholesaler of cosmetic raw materials for a long time and knew the industry well.

I myself spend every free minute on the beach and in the water. I go swimming or surfing when there are waves or I paddle along the coast in my kayak. At some point, our two interests gave rise to the idea of a skincare product for water sportsmen.

You have to know that we are both typical northern Europeans with fair skin and blond hair (my husband) and many freckles (me), so we have to protect ourselves from the sun and always take good care of our skin.

Why did you make a product specifically for watermen and women?

As a water sportsman, my skin is often very stressed due to the sun, wind and saltwater which all dry out the skin quickly and make it age faster… but I don’t want to look like old leather in my mid-forties!

So first we looked around at what can be done and what skin care products are already available. We then purchased and tried many of them.

A person using a bottle of AiguaDolç skincare lotion
Image: Luisvi Cristofori

Most of the products for men are gels. They usually look good and smell good, but to moisturise and really care for your skin after a surf session of several hours, it’s just not enough! With the products for women, it’s the other way around, they are often much too rich and greasy. What we wanted is for the cream to be absorbed quickly and not leave a greasy film on the skin.

And there’s a second point that’s very important to us: the ingredients!

Many skin care products are filled to the brim with chemicals, especially sun care products. This is not only bad for the skin, but also bad for the environment and especially for the marine ecosystem.

We searched for a long time but couldn’t find a brand or skincare line that really convinced us as water sportsmen, so we founded our own start-up.

Were there any big challenges with starting the brand?

Time and money are definitely two factors.

Many cosmetic start-ups rely on so-called private-label solutions.

That means they buy a finished product from another manufacturer and sell it under their own name. In this way, they save a lot of time and money for the development of their own product and, above all, invest only in their marketing.

For us, this was out of the question, because the demands on our products are very individual.

The development of our skincare with microalgae took longer than expected – a whole three years! But the work has been totally worth it and we get very good feedback from the watersports community plus excellent reviews from platforms like and

Of course, it’s also a big challenge to become known as a brand. But I’m actually quite relaxed about that, we have a great product and the rest will fall into place.

Female using a bottle of AiguaDolç skincare lotion
Image: Ana Grau

Love to hear it. So what makes Aiguadolç so special? What’s the thing that would make someone choose it over another brand?

We have very close relationships with many water athletes, which means we know their needs intimately and ultimately better than any other skincare brand.

Makes sense. Any big lessons that you learned from running Aiguadolç?

A lot of things are still new to us so our learning curve is steep and steady.

For example, the fact that we positioned our brand as a skin care product for watermen and are now finding that women in particular are also interested in our product is one such experience.

Bottle of AiguaDolç skincare lotion on a beach
Image: Ana Grau

And what about the algae that you use? Where’s it sourced from?

Most after-sun products contain aloe vera, which is okay if I’m only in the sun and water once in a while.

But we spend almost every day in the water, often for hours. So we’ve been looking for ingredients that are highly moisturising and help our skin recover from a long day at the beach and in the water.

Microalgae are perfect for this because they produce a range of unique bioactive complex lipids and fatty acids – building blocks that our skin urgently needs to regenerate and restore its natural protective function. Incidentally, algae will also play an important role in the development of natural UV filters for sun creams. However, it will still take a few years before this is the case.

Bottle of AiguaDolç on the rocks
Image: ©Felix Gänsicke

I’m sold! Now for some personal questions. What were you doing before you started Aiguadolç?

I’ve done a lot of different things in my life, for example working at the advertising agency Jung von Matt in Hamburg, working in bars and restaurants or spinning records in clubs.

That was a pretty wild but also very nice time. Nevertheless, I’m always drawn back to the sea. This is perhaps also due to the fact that I was born and raised in a harbour district.

Who’s your all-time favourite band or musical artist?


Favourite male or female surfer?

John John Florence.

Favourite food or dish?

Seafood Paella or Fideuà.

A book that changed how you live your life?

Lost Horizon by James Hilton.

A Netflix or Amazon Prime series that you recommend to everyone?

May sound boring, but I prefer to read books, most recently: The Shards by Bret Easton Ellis.

Last but not least, where can people go to learn more about your brand and buy your products?