The Internet loves optical illusions, but they most just feature ugly articles of clothing, rather than the one truly beautiful thing that exists in this world: celebrities. In that way, this optical illusion stands alone, although the pretty faces in it—like those of Jennifer Garner and Gwyneth Paltrow—get real weird, real quick. Keep your eyes on the pale cross between the two pictures in the optical illusion, and watch everyone morph and distort.
The pictures of the celebrities aren't melting; your eyes are just being weird. Foiled by your own sight again! The illusion comes from a study exploring how the human brain processes faces by the researcher Matthew Thompson, who wrote this on his website:
Like many interesting scientific discoveries, this one was an accident. Sean Murphy, an undergraduate student, was working alone in the lab on a set of faces for one of his experiments. He aligned a set of faces at the eyes and started to skim through them. After a few seconds, he noticed that some of the faces began to appear highly deformed and grotesque. He looked at the especially ugly faces individually, but each of them appeared normal or even attractive. We called it the "Flashed Face Distortion Effect...
The effect seems to depend on processing each face in light of the others. By aligning the faces at the eyes and presenting them quickly, it becomes much easier to compare them, so the differences between the faces are more extreme. If someone has a large jaw, it looks almost ogre-like. If they have an especially large forehead, then it looks particularly bulbous.
And that's with really, really pretty people. Can you imagine how weird your face could get in one of these optical illusions?