For many brands, the increasing presence of competitive products on store shelves could be daunting. Not Alterna Haircare, which has found success at Sephora stores, where it’s been carried, alongside a growing number of other luxury hair brands, since 2011. “There certainly is competition there, but I think in terms of Sephora the changes have been good because they are really getting behind hair care and they want to grow their hair care business and become a hair care destination,” said Mary Burns, Alterna’s vice president of marketing. “Right now, let’s be honest: they’re more known for color cosmetics and skincare than for hair care, but they are committed to growing that business and committed to letting their customers know that they are a hair care destination and carry multiple brands of hair care: that benefits all the brands that are in Sephora.”

Recently purchased by Germany-based Henkel SA from TSG Partners, Alterna will likely benefit from a dose of international distribution from the buy, and in turn will give Henkel access to its strong US retail base. The brand received a boost in marketing power in 2013 when actress Katie Holmes bought a percentage of the brand and appeared in its ads. Other key differentiators that possibly attracted Henkel to the brand included their diverse ingredients range, are particularly resonant with consumers, like caviar and bamboo. The entire line is free of parabens, sulfates, phthalates, and offering items in recyclable packaging is a priority.

Alterna’s partnership with Sephora has been a key factor in the brand’s growth. Having launched in 1997 as predominantly a professional brand, in 2010 it began to be sold on Sephora’s website, with brick-and-mortar stores following a couple years later. For Alterna, the alliance was as much about marketing as sales. “We really looked at expanding into Sephora as a brand awareness driver, really driving awareness of our overall Alterna brand to help all channels, both retail and professional,” Burns recalls. “We’re seeing an uptick in our sales because of the brand awareness and the attention and support Sephora is able to give us.”

While Alterna continues to launch products—like Caviar Anti-Aging Replenishing Moisture Milk, which launched in June, and a curl definer that’s coming out as part of the Bamboo line in September–a main focus right now is overseas expansion. “As Sephora grows we’re growing as well,” Burns explains. A few months ago, the brand was rolled out into all of Sephora’s French doors (330, including key cities like Paris and Marseilles), 20 of Sephora’s main Spanish haircare doors (like Madrid, Barcelona) and all of Sephora’s Scandinavia stores. It is also launching in Sephora’s Australia stores in November.

Douglas, the German chain that’s essentially Sephora’s equivalent in some countries, is firmly aligned with Alterna as well. The brand is currently in more than 400 Douglas doors, and is launching this month June in its locations in the Czech Republic and the Netherlands. For next year, they will continue to roll out more stores in both chains, and will expand, as Sephora does, deeper into Southeast Asia and Latin America. Alterna is also currently in the registration process for China.

But although Alterna’s strategy overseas is to expand overall, the company has learned that the appeal of products can vary dramatically in different markets. In Mexico and Brazil, for example, the anti-frizz properties of the brand’s Bamboo smooth collection do particularly well, while in the United States and Germany, the volume collection is a big seller. A caviar dandruff control collection was launched in Europe and Asia late last year, with the company seeing a greater need for the line there as opposed to the U.S., where it will also have to go through FDA regulatory process before being introduced. “We sometimes have a different focus in different markets,” Burns explains. “When we expand into certain markets we may hand pick the sku assortment based on what consumer need is in those markets.”