TikTok mirror trend: optical illusion explained as people left confused by ‘magic mirror’ effect

The trend has racked up millions of views as people try to make sense of it - but it can be explained using simple science

Watch more of our videos on Shots!
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now

TikTok users have been left scratching their heads by a new trend which involves an everyday household object and doesn’t appear to make a whole lot of sense at first. The mirror trend appears simple, but people can’t understand how it works.

It involves people holding up a small object against a mirror with a piece of paper in between the object and the mirror. Most people seem to expect that the paper would block the reflection of the object, but this is not the case. Users have been left baffled by the fact that they can still see not only the object in the mirror, but also their own hand.

Videos showing this effect have been viewed a total of 115 million views on TikTok as people try to understand how the effect, which has been dubbed an optical illusion by some, really works. Keep reading to find out the science behind it.

What have TikTok users been saying about the mirror trend?

Some TikTok users have reacted with confusion to the trend. One person called the effect “a conspiracy while another simply declared the effect to be “mad”. Another person admitted that seeing the videos was hurting their head. One user even said they thought the effect was a result of “magic”.

TikTok users have been left baffled by a magic mirror trend.TikTok users have been left baffled by a magic mirror trend.
TikTok users have been left baffled by a magic mirror trend.

How does the mirror trend work?

The mirror trend can be explained using simple science. As some TikTok users have pointed out, the reason why you can still see the reflection in the mirror, despite the paper, can be explained using physics.

Put simply, although the paper is opaque, and therefore common sense would seem to suggest that it would therefore block the reflection, the light is actually still reflecting off the object the person is holding and also their hand. That light is then hitting the mirror and bouncing back to a person’s field of vision, meaning the reflection is still visible. The paper is just a background for the image and doesn't have any impact on the reflection at all.

Some have still been left confused by this explanation. One person said: “I've had it explained a few times, I get it but my brain still doesn't want to, if that makes sense. It feels wrong, like it shouldn't work this way.”

Another user said that, although they understand how the trend works, it is still “weird to see”.

It’s not the only TikTok trend to have bewildered people in recent weeks. Users have also been filming themselves eating oranges in the shower and also talking about mascara on the popular social media platform, but all is not what it first appears with these trends either.

In addition, there are also many other optical illusions which test what people are really looking at, including one with a hidden snow leopard and another which reveals what kind of person you are based on what animal you see first. You can see even more optical illusions by looking at our dedicated optical illusions page.