Over the weekend, news broke that Monica is expecting a new baby!  Hearing about Monica’s bun in the oven got us thinking about just why we love her so much. When Monica landed on the music scene in the ’90s, not only were we captivated by her rich, soulful voice, but we also fell in love with her short and sassy hairstyle! Ever since, Monica has wowed her fans with every hairstyle in the book, from long ombré waves to cropped, spiky cuts.

We sat down with the star to talk about her can’t-live-without hair care products and best beauty secrets.

PHOTOS: Monica’s Tress Transformation Over the Years

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ESSENCE.com: How would you describe your beauty philosophy?
MONICA: My beauty philosophy has nothing to do with the outside. You meet some of the most beautiful people and their inside is tarnished. To me it changes everything. I’m always trying to do self work to be better on the inside and I think it shows on the outside when you’re happy and you’re treating others the way you want to be treated. It exudes something different on the outside.

ESSENCE.com: What would you say are your must-have beauty products?
MONICA:  I’ve used Cetaphyl for almost 10 years. I use it on my face, hands, body, everywhere. That’s the one thing that I always use. People always ask me what I do especially when I have to wear makeup for work which can be a little tricky, but that’s the one product that has kept my skin even for many, many years.

ESSENCE.com:  What are your favorite hair products?
MONICA: I’ve got a few of those because I’m serious about my hair! [Laughs] I like hair color and a lot of different hairstyles so I’m a little dramatic when it comes to hair. I keep Nairobi Wrapp-It Shine Foam around because my hair is natural and has been for 12 years. So if I ever get in a situation where I’m swelling up due to humidity that always kind of lays it down but keeps it soft. That’s my one must-have product.

ESSENCE.com:  I love that you said your hair has been natural for so long. Would you ever consider rocking a natural look?
MONICA:  I’ve worn my hair natural a couple of times. Whenever I have my hair curly, I use the Nairobi foam and pull it through my hair, especially when I’m on vacation or where it’s summertime. I live in Atlanta and Phoenix so when you start seeing 100 degree days, natural is just about the only way to go.

ESSENCE.com:  When we first met you in ’90s, you were wearing your hair super short and set the trend for the short hair movement similar to Anita Baker and Toni Braxton at that time. What was it like for you being a ’90s hair icon?
MONICA: You know I never looked at it that way. My mom was really pissed that I got my hair cut and that is the one thing that comes to mind every time I think about that hair cut. People don’t realize I was only 13 years old.  I was getting ready for my first photo shoot and my hairstylist was supposed to be streaking my hair. My hair started out black and when I looked up, every streak was green. Let’s just say she didn’t know what she was doing. I just looked in the mirror and I told her to cut it all off. I didn’t think to get permission or ask my mom. All I can think about when I think about that short hairstyle is getting home and seeing the look on my mother’s face. She looked like she wanted to pack me up and send me somewhere for a while. That was how the short hair came about for me.

PHOTOS: Monica’s Tress Transformation Over the Years

ESSENCE.com: Tell us about how you make your hair transformations from long to short, straight or curly?  What inspires you to change up your look?
MONICA:  Everything depends on my mood. I love changing up my hair. It’s the one thing that I’m never afraid to try something different. I’ve been red, brown, blond, black and I just have a good time with it. I don’t think you have to be so structured with the way that you wear your hair because it’s about self-expression. If I feel that I want to wear a ponytail, I do. That’s actually what I wear a lot right now because the boys are busy, my husband is busy and I’m always on-the-go.  The convenience of long hair gives me the option to do a bun or a ponytail or a braid to one side. Those styles are for convenience more so for anything else.

ESSENCE.com: What beauty or hair secret would your fans be surprised to learn about you?
MONICA: Probably that I use baby lotion on everything. People always ask me what kind of moisturizer I use.  It’s no $300 product.  I go in the baby section and I grab Johnson & Johnson and that’s it. [Laughs]